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njduchess

All About Gin, Generally

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The gin in my liquor cabinet is drunk infrequently.  (We have a preference for Vodka.)  Does is lose quality after a period of time?  If it does, how long would that time be?

I'm not sure if this is a really dumb questions, but I ask at the risk of looking foolish.

Marie

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Hah!  Since Gin doesn't taste like anything when its fresh, maybe it gets better with age. ;)

But seriously... as far as I've heard the types of alcohol most likely to change taste with time (for good or ill) are those highest in sugar content.  I don't think Gin qualifies, but I could be wrong...

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One of the cool things about hosting a big Thanksgiving dinner is that my guests, being the souses they are, bring lots of alcohol and wine.  I make specific requests for Tanqueray No. Ten and Bombay Saphire with proclivities leaning towards No. Ten.

So after turkey day, the Ten was gone within a week but I still have a third of a bottle of Saphire and after six months, I haven't noticed any degredation.

I only make the very dry martini's with the good stuff, only 1/4 teaspoon of Vermouth to about a double shot of gin.

Now I always heard that Churchill liked his martinis without Vermouth, but upon a quick a web check I found this on the official Churchill website:

Which in turn was quoted from a '99 of Food and Wine and then was debunked by Churchill's grandson:

"I never saw WSC drink gin, nor indeed CSC whose tipple, at least in later life, was Dubonnet. Have just bounced this one off Lady Soames, who thunders: 'Absolute b---s; and you may quote me! [but we will not!] Of course he would have had the odd Martini, especially when staying with the Roosevelts--FDR mixed a mean one--but he was certainly not a gin drinker by habit.'" So once again the media has it wrong and Mr. Wells and Food and Wine are contributing nonsense.

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Gin and other distilled spirits do not have a shelf life.  They will not change or oxidize in the bottle.  Spirits left in wood or allowed to soak with fruit, herbs, etc. to age will continue to change and take on more flavor from the wood or botanical.  Items like wine, fortified wine and aromatized wine once opened will oxidize and eventually go bad/turn to vinegar.  So keep that bottle of gin for a rainy day.

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Has anyone heard of a gin by Bols? I just finished a book (The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte, made into a movie by Roman Polanski starring Johnny Depp...The Ninth Gate) that mentions it throughout and I'm wondering if it was just a fabrication or actually a gin popular in Europe. An Internet search revealed nothing.

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Has anyone heard of a gin by Bols? I just finished a book (The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte, made into a movie by Roman Polanski starring Johnny Depp...The Ninth Gate) that mentions it throughout and I'm wondering if it was just a fabrication or actually a gin popular in Europe.  An Internet search revealed nothing.

Mmmm. Might I suggest a lesson in internet search techniques? Bols do, of course, make gin - Silver top, and they also make Genever, the Dutch forerunner of what we now know as Gin.

Hint. Go to Google and search for Bols gin. You may be surprised at the number of results.

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Items like wine, fortified wine and aromatized wine once opened will oxidize and eventually go bad/turn to vinegar.

I've read that wines were originally fortified with brandy to survive long ocean voyages through wide ranging climates without deteriorating. Wouldn't this mean wines like port, sherry and madeira last longer when opened than non-fortified wines? I would think that sugar would also tend to act as a preservative.

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Items like wine, fortified wine and aromatized wine once opened will oxidize and eventually go bad/turn to vinegar.

I've read that wines were originally fortified with brandy to survive long ocean voyages through wide ranging climates without deteriorating. Wouldn't this mean wines like port, sherry and madeira last longer when opened than non-fortified wines? I would think that sugar would also tend to act as a preservative.

Fortified wines will last considerably longer than non-fortified, but will eventually go off. The period will vary according to the style and alcohol content, for instance a delicate fino sherry will lose its freshness within a few weeks once opened but will remain "drinkable" for months. A sweeter Madeira will probably last years and remain tolerable, but ultimately it will turn.

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Bols actually makes one of the better Genevers, although I have never tried the Gin. Genever is less versatile than gin perhaps, but to my mind the oude genever is generally far preferable on its own. Bols makes a very nice oude genever. Guests to my house, many of whom profess to dislike gin, are almost invariably pleasantly surprised by a nice glass of chilled Bols oude genever.

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I have to confess I keep my genever in the freezer, certainly well chilled! And for those of you that don't speak any Flemish "oude" is old or aged, which is also how I like my Gouda.

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Mmmm. Might I suggest a lesson in internet search techniques? Bols do, of course, make gin - Silver top, and they also make Genever, the Dutch forerunner of what we now know as Gin.

Hint. Go to  Google and search for Bols gin. You may be surprised at the number of results.

Thanks britcook. I was using Yahoo, which is supposedly powered by Google but I only got some info on Lucas Bols, founder of the distillery. I couldn't find anything current.

So, how does Genever differ from Gin? I see that Genever is readily available and some describe it as a smoother taste. What do you say?

The thing I've never liked about gin is the biting quality and overpowering juniper aroma. Was hoping that Bols might be smoother.

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Genever is made from malted grain mash, like whisky, rather than straight grain so it gives a fuller body and more pungent taste. Similar to German Schnapps and Scandinavian Aquavit, best served chilled by itself (hence mine in the freezer), not really suitable for cocktails. All gins (and genevers) have juniper as their principal flavouring, so you're never going to escape that but American gins, like Seagrams, tend to be softer than British gins so may have less of that biting quality.

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Whiskey aka usquebach aka any distilled spirit WILL oxidize in the bottle once a certain level is reached. Unopened shelf life is forever, if you can keep the cork moist, so the bottle won't leak. Opened, shelf life is still forever, if the bottle is above 1/3 full. Below 1/3 full there will be a noticable difference in a year's time. Most experts will tell you that once a bottle is less than 1/3 or 1/4 full, you have at best 5 years to drink it.

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I couldn't agree more mick, when there is ambient air in the bottle, the oxygen that has been introduced will oxidize the contents of any spirit but this will be much more apparent in wine than in distilled spirits.

5 years sounds like a long time, I don't think I've ever had a bottle of spirits last that long, but then it was drunk before it had a chance to oxidize. I serve spirits that have sat around a while taking up space on those nights when I need to stretch the punch, works fine.

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I used Madeira as an example because it's oxidized during the process of making it, therefore it will take longer for it to succumb to excess oxidization. I've one or two odd spirits, mixers admittedly, in opened bottles that have sat around the back of the cocktail cabinet for several years but don't seem to have got appreciably worse. I suppose I'm not familiar enough with their taste to decide how good they are, and I suppose if I compared them to a freshly opened bottle they would not show well, but they seem to work well enough in cocktails.

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FYI, if you haven't already seen it, there's a very informative article on genever and its artisinal revival in December's Saveur magazine

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I've been searching all over for descriptions of the different flavors of gin brands and I can't find anything very comprehensive, just that "so-and-so brand is better just because I say so" and comments like that. I'd like to take the time to compare flavors myself, but I can't get myself to buy a bottle of every brand at one time just to have a tasting (especially if I don't like some of them). Plus, that would be quite an expensive endeavor and I would prefer to only spend my money on gins that I would expect to like. So, can someone please give a fairly thourough description of the flavor of many of the leading brands of gin including Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, Boodles, Beefeater, Gordon's, etc... I know right now that I really like Gordon's, so maybe even a comparison to that one might help, but I also know that every brand is very unique with juniper being what holds them together. Anything would be greatly appreciated just so that I can expand my gin repretoire without wasting too much money. Thanks.

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I wish I could help you more but I discovered that I liked (in this order) Bombay (& not Sapphire--I just prefer the taste of regular Bombay), Boodles, Seagram's and that is what I order and how I buy it. My only rational is "so & so is better b/c I say so" ":^) Gin, as you mentioned, & like so many other spirits, is such a personal taste that no one can argue that your taste is wrong. They can argue that this gin is better made or has better ingredients but can not say that you do not like it.

There is a decent book on spirits that rates & evaluates not only gins but all distilled spirits & fortified wines called Kindred Spirits that I purchased several years ago. Paul Pacult wrote it and Hyperion published it. I found it on the close out rack so do not know if it has been updated or not. I do not necessarily agree w/ all of his ratings but it is nice to read the evaluations and that sounds like the information you seek. Good luck.

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Try Tastings.com's Spirit Search

They rate and describe various liquors/beers/wines.

Here's there blurb on their highest rated gin, Bombay Sapphire:

97 • Bombay Sapphire Gin $18.69.

Clear. Perfumed juniper, bitter citrus, and brown spice nose. A very smooth entry leads to a glycerous, medium-bodied palate with intense orange and lemon peel flavors washed against a canvas of pungent, spicy juniper notes. Finishes for a mile. A great, ultra smooth gin.

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Try Tastings.com's Spirit Search

They rate and describe various liquors/beers/wines.

Here's there blurb on their highest rated gin, Bombay Sapphire:

97 • Bombay Sapphire Gin $18.69.

Clear. Perfumed juniper, bitter citrus, and brown spice nose. A very smooth entry leads to a glycerous, medium-bodied palate with intense orange and lemon peel flavors washed against a canvas of pungent, spicy juniper notes. Finishes for a mile. A great, ultra smooth gin.

Which brings up an interesting question . . .

Do you prefer your gin to taste like gin or your gin to taste like vodka?

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Try Tastings.com's Spirit Search

They rate and describe various liquors/beers/wines.

Here's there blurb on their highest rated gin, Bombay Sapphire:

97 • Bombay Sapphire Gin $18.69.

Clear. Perfumed juniper, bitter citrus, and brown spice nose. A very smooth entry leads to a glycerous, medium-bodied palate with intense orange and lemon peel flavors washed against a canvas of pungent, spicy juniper notes. Finishes for a mile. A great, ultra smooth gin.

Which brings up an interesting question . . .

Do you prefer your gin to taste like gin or your gin to taste like vodka?

Interesting question. My father in law recently retired from his job as a liquor distributor, and visits to his house were often marked by tastings of (by which I mean swilling of) new products his company carried. Once they were trying to break two new brands of "super-premium" gin, Van Gough and I forget the other. You know, the frosted bottle, understated label etc. The stuff had no taste -- it was as though they'd cut the gin with vodka so as not to offend anybody.

I cast my vote with Lan4Dawg and regular Bombay, not the too-sweet Saphire.

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I note that question as it's quite relevant to considering & comparing gin flavors.

I've noted the following on a different thread & I'll note it again . . .

Sapphire was born when Stoli USA--which distributes Bombay in the States--wanted to increase its gin sales. So, Stoli USA approached Bombay & basically said, "We can sell more of your gin but you need to make it taste more like vodka." Thus, Bombay created Sapphire.

When broadly comparing gins, I tend to begin with two huge categories: gin that's meant to taste like gin & "gin" that's intended to taste (? :laugh: ) more like vodka.

FWIW.


Edited by MatthewB (log)

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And to answer the original question . . .

I try to keep two bottles of gin in the freezer: either Bombay (regular, not the vodka clone) or Beefeater's and Plymouth.

I'm slowly coming to the notion that I should pare down to just a bottle of Plymouth. (Based on taste rather than lack of freezer volume.)

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Which brings up an interesting question . . .

Do you prefer your gin to taste like gin or your gin to taste like vodka?

Depends on mood with me. There are times I want my drink **smooth** when neat or with a touch of ice. Sapphire is good for this, Beefeater is not so good. Then there are times a want a Gin & Tonic - Sapphire is not so good, Beefeater is much better. There are times I just want to get punched out - hell, then I just go to vodka. :biggrin:

I'm actually a Rum drinker, and I prefer the smooth, complex ones with many other tastes that ripple through the nose and tongue and mouth and finish. IMHO Gin doesn't really lend itself to this type of taste experience like a Whisky or Rum or Cognac does.

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This may be a little off topic but it seems like the place to drop this quyestion...

Does anybody else find that drinking gin yields a distinctly different buzz than drinking, say, vodka or just sipping wine? Scientists say "no", but I find there's nothing quite like the narco/alcohol effect of a good martini or two.

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