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TallDrinkOfWater

New Generation Gins

370 posts in this topic

You've yet to answer the questions I posed to you, or address the points I brought up, so I've no idea why you are asking me these questions? I am happy to answer them, but the reason they have been posed is to suit your agenda. ;)

I don't see that there are meaningful points or straightforward questions you asked that it would be availing to answer. If you have something specific and germane to this discussion you would like me to respond to, ask straightforwardly and I will attempt to respond.

Personally speaking, I wouldn't be massively opinionated on a subject if I didn't fully understand it. In this case, you don't seem to know what exactly defines 'London Dry gin'.

Is there some reason you are not sharing this massive store of knowledge that enables you to fully understand all things gin-related? I'm not above changing my opinion if you can show me where it is legally incorrect or historically mistaken to suppose that gin as a category of spirit is defined by having a primary character of juniper. But you haven't offered any such thing, other than to assert that you know better. And to which definition of "London dry gin" do you refer? The 2008 EU definitions? Is there is some UK-specific legal definition or historical tradition you can use to elucidate this conversation? If so, then why not trot this evidence out instead of asserting that you know something I don't know, which makes you right and me wrong? While you're at it, I'd also be interested in knowing the date of such regulation or definition, and if it is of modern provenance, why we should care. Seriously. If you have this information, then by all means share. I like learning as much as the next guy, if not a good bit more.

As for the 2008 EU definitions, they're pretty easy to track down:

Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 Annex II (Categories of Spirit Drinks at No. 20 says:

20. Gin

(a) Gin is a juniper-flavoured spirit drink produced by flavouring organoleptically suitable ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin with juniper berries (Juniperus communis L.).

(b) The minimum alcoholic strength by volume of gin shall be 37,5 %.

© Only natural and/or nature-identical flavouring substances as defined in Article 1(2)(b)(i) and (ii) of Directive 88/388/EEC and/or flavouring preparations as defined in Article 1(2)© of that Directive shall be used for the production of gin so that the taste is predominantly that of juniper.

21. Distilled gin

(a) Distilled gin is:

(i) a juniper-flavoured spirit drink produced exclusively by redistilling organoleptically suitable ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin of an appropriate quality with an initial alcoholic strength of at least 96 % vol. in stills traditionally used for gin, in the presence of juniper berries (Juniperus communis L.) and of other natural botanicals provided that the juniper taste is predominant, or

(ii) the mixture of the product of such distillation and ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin with the same composition, purity and alcoholic strength; natural and/or nature-identical flavouring substances and/or flavouring preparations as specified in category 20© may also be used to flavour distilled gin.

(b) The minimum alcoholic strength by volume of distilled gin shall be 37,5 %.

© Gin obtained simply by adding essences or flavourings to ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin is not distilled gin.

22. London gin

(a) London gin is a type of distilled gin:

(i) obtained exclusively from ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin, with a maximum methanol content of 5 grams per hectolitre of 100 % vol. alcohol, whose flavour is introduced exclusively through the re-distillation in traditional stills of ethyl alcohol in the presence of all the natural plant materials used,

(ii) the resultant distillate of which contains at least 70 % alcohol by vol.,

(iii) where any further ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin is added it must be consistent with the characteristics listed in Annex I(1), but with a maximum methanol content of 5 grams per hectolitre of 100 % vol. alcohol,

(iv) which does not contain added sweetening exceeding 0,1 gram of sugars per litre of the final product nor colorants,

(v) which does not contain any other added ingredients other than water.

(b) The minimum alcoholic strength by volume of London gin shall be 37,5 %.

© The term London gin may be supplemented by the term "dry".

I note this significant text from above: "a juniper-flavoured spirit drink [distilled] . . . in the presence of juniper berries (Juniperus communis L.) and of other natural botanicals provided that the juniper taste is predominant." (Emphasis added.)

Both of these items in the EU definition would seem to go directly to my points that a major qualifier as to the designation "gin" is having a primary flavoring of juniper. Now, whether or not a 2008 EU definition necessarily speaks to the overall tradition of gin or "London dry gin" is another question entirely. If you have some other knowledge or more authoritative and historical definition, I'm happy to see it. I'd certainly be interested at any evidence you have of the widespread historical common usage of "gin" to define a category of spirit that is not differentiated from other categories of spirit on the basis of having a primary character derived from juniper.

Since you've brought it up, I'm curious... Do you know for a fact that Tanqueray Ten is legally prohibited from calling itself a "London dry gin." If so, on what basis? The only thing I can think of is that maybe they don't distill up to 70% abv, or maybe they add too much sugar? Or is it possible that they don't say "London dry" on the bottle simply to differentiate it further from their flagship product?

And to talk about the history of gin and then bring US regulations into it. There is a mighty flaw in your logic there...

I think it was pretty clear that I was only offering that as an example of a regulation. And in the context of asking what the UK regulations are.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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What makes every one of these little distilleries think they can make a product and instantly come to market with a product that can compete with the resources and traditions of decades or centuries old producers?

I don't really get this point? Are you talking about 'new-world' gins versus London dry?

I was indeed generalizing about micro-distilleries in general, not specifically gin manufacturers.

Though, I guess I am frustrated by all the newer distilleries who seem to see their niche as creating products for people who don't enjoy the best example of that category. Those who create Gins for people who don't like Gin, Absinthe for people who don't like Absinthe, or Tequila for those that don't like Tequila.

In general, I believe these companies are going about this wrong.

In my opinion, what they should be doing is making a unique product which follows the rules of the category, then educating the spirits professionals and retailers about why their product is great. Then these people will (hopefully) pass this along to the consumer. If the producer doesn't love the spirits in the category they are working with, that is sort of a red flag for me. Gin distillers who don't like gin, or Absinthe makers who don't like Absinthe. C'mon!

I also agree with Sam's point, as much as I like to support local distilleries and local products, if your "gin" (or whatever) doesn't behave as a gin should in cocktails, and I can only use it in specifically formulated cocktails, the odds of it seeing much use around my house are slim.

Heck, I have had better luck with Square One Botanical in some classic gin cocktails, than I have had with many "New world" or "New Western" gins.


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Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I don't see that there are meaningful points or straightforward questions you asked that it would be availing to answer. If you have something specific and germane to this discussion you would like me to respond to, ask straightforwardly and I will attempt to respond.

I have made many meaningful points and asked some valid questions like the one that I am about to repost, but you have avoided them for your own agenda. For example;

You said - The threshold being when the presence of juniper goes below what can at least reasonably be argued is "primary flavoring."

To which I asked - Which is decided by who?

A valid point at the crux of the current debate...

As I've already said, the issue isn't necessarily about them being called gin (because who is it that decides whether something tastes predominantly of juniper?), the problem is the designation.

Is there some reason you are not sharing this massive store of knowledge that enables you to fully understand all things gin-related?

Is there some reason that you shout the loudest and are dismissive of anyone who doesn't agree with everything you say?

I'm not above changing my opinion if you can show me where it is legally incorrect or historically mistaken to suppose that gin as a category of spirit is defined by having a primary character of juniper.

I'm not aware that I said it was historically or legally incorrect (in fact I said the opposite), so I've no idea where you are getting this from?

But you haven't offered any such thing, other than to assert that you know better.

Likewise, where did I say, "I know better?"

And if I did say that (which I didn't), it sure makes a change from you doing it. :wink:

Since you've brought it up, I'm curious... Do you know for a fact that Tanqueray Ten is legally prohibited from calling itself a "London dry gin." If so, on what basis? The only thing I can think of is that maybe they don't distill up to 70% abv, or maybe they add too much sugar? Or is it possible that they don't say "London dry" on the bottle simply to differentiate it further from their flagship product?

I live in the UK, I try to attend every training possible, and I am inquisitive. Tanqueray often host trainings.

I'm 99.9% sure that it's not a London Dry, the 0.1% doubt is because I haven't watched it be made.

I think it was pretty clear that I was only offering that as an example of a regulation. And in the context of asking what the UK regulations are.

Do you not see the irony in bringing the historical aspect into it then citing a US definition? :smile:


Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

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Since you've brought it up, I'm curious... Do you know for a fact that Tanqueray Ten is legally prohibited from calling itself a "London dry gin." If so, on what basis? The only thing I can think of is that maybe they don't distill up to 70% abv, or maybe they add too much sugar? Or is it possible that they don't say "London dry" on the bottle simply to differentiate it further from their flagship product?

I live in the UK, I try to attend every training possible, and I am inquisitive. Tanqueray often host trainings.

I'm 99.9% sure that it's not a London Dry, the 0.1% doubt is because I haven't watched it be made.

I've certainly had a disagreement or two with Sam in the past, but it's painfully clear even to me that this is the type of comment he's talking about when he says you seem to have some sort of information that you are withholding.

What information makes you 99.9% sure Tanqueray 10 is not London Dry Gin? The world needs to know...what did they tell you at these trainings? What did you glean on account of your inquisitive nature?


True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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I was indeed generalizing about micro-distilleries in general, not specifically gin manufacturers.

Thanks for your reply and for clarifying Erik.

Though, I guess I am frustrated by all the newer distilleries who seem to see their niche as creating products for people who don't enjoy the best example of that category. Those who create Gins for people who don't like Gin, Absinthe for people who don't like Absinthe, or Tequila for those that don't like Tequila.

In general, I believe these companies are going about this wrong.

Don't get me wrong, it irritates me as well when producers make a product within a category which is nothing like what you'd expect* and is intended to compete with a completely different category (usually vodka). I guess that's business though, the good thing is we don't have to associate ourselves with that brand if we don't want to.

However, it's not just the micros and new companies that are doing this, the large producers have been at it for decades, so maybe it's only fair that the little man is getting their slice of the action?

*If I have to taste another bitters that isn't even bitter... :angry:

In my opinion, what they should be doing is making a unique product which follows the rules of the category, then educating the spirits professionals and retailers about why their product is great. Then these people will (hopefully) pass this along to the consumer. If the producer doesn't love the spirits in the category they are working with, that is sort of a red flag for me. Gin distillers who don't like gin, or Absinthe makers who don't like Absinthe. C'mon!

Once again I completely agree and would love it were every producer to go down this road, sadly it's not the case. I do see it as an opporunity to turn a negative into a positive though, as it's easier to introduce someone to what I feel is a better product when they are a fan of another brand within the same category.

I also agree with Sam's point, as much as I like to support local distilleries and local products, if your "gin" (or whatever) doesn't behave as a gin should in cocktails, and I can only use it in specifically formulated cocktails, the odds of it seeing much use around my house are slim.

That's fair enough, we can all make our own informed choices though. It's not as if there isn't an abundance of brands to choose from...

The reason I've joined in with the discussion in this thread is that I've gotten extremely bored of the whole new western gin debate (specifically all the bashing); there's a grey area within the gin category as I've pointed out (who decides if something tastes predominantly of juniper?) and that's where the problem lies.

I see it as an evolution of the category, genever to Old Tom to London Dry and now the new breed. The great thing is that we can now get our hands on all of these styles of gin, some good, some bad, some great, some mind-blowing.

Whether or not these new bottlings (which are not juniper-led) are deserving of the title is not for me to decide. What I can decide though is whether or not I wish to part with my hard-earned for a specific product...


Edited by evo-lution (log)

Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters - Bitters

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What information makes you 99.9% sure Tanqueray 10 is not London Dry Gin? The world needs to know...what did they tell you at these trainings? What did you glean on account of your inquisitive nature?

I have asked (on more than one occasion) if it is (by definition) a London Dry, and if it is, why it doesn't say so on the bottle. Tom Nichol has been present on one occasion when I asked.

I am led to believe that they use an essence for one botanical as opposed the actual botanical, making it a 'distilled gin' as opposed to a 'London Dry gin'.

I am happy to be proved wrong.


Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

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What information makes you 99.9% sure Tanqueray 10 is not London Dry Gin? The world needs to know...what did they tell you at these trainings? What did you glean on account of your inquisitive nature?

I have asked (on more than one occasion) if it is (by definition) a London Dry, and if it is, why it doesn't say so on the bottle. Tom Nichol has been present on one occasion when I asked.

I am led to believe that they use an essence for one botanical as opposed the actual botanical, making it a 'distilled gin' as opposed to a 'London Dry gin'.

I am happy to be proved wrong.

That's fascinating stuff...and I have no plans to gainsay it. Thanks for sharing.


True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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I've read the main difference between the regular Tanqueray and Tanq 10 is the inclusion of fresh citrus.

It would make sense to me that they would need to do the distillation of the fresh citrus separately from that of the main gin botanicals, given the water content.

London Dry cannot be a compounded gin, all the botanicals must be present at the distillation.

If they have to do some sort of blending of essences, it can't be called a London Dry.

PS. Sounds like a question for Angus Winchester!


Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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That's fascinating stuff...and I have no plans to gainsay it. Thanks for sharing.

As said, I'm not privvy to definitive fact as I've not been present to watch it be made but from what I gather it's not strictly a London Dry (for whatever reason, the essence explanation may not be exactly right).

I just had a quick look at Gary Regan's Gin Compendium and it lists Tanq 10 as 'Distilled Gin'.


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Rather interesting sounding gin recently released by a micro in Brooklyn, New York:

Breuckelen Distilling Company Starts Selling Booze Early

From Robert Simonson's article:

Aside from being a Brooklyn-produced gin, Estabrooke's enterprise is unique in other ways. For one, he makes his own neutral spirit (which he calls "wheat spirit," because it's distilled from New York State wheat and he endeavors to retain much of the flavor the wheat imparts), using a column still he had made in Germany. Most gin makers buy their neutral spirit elsewhere. Estabrooke also distills each component of his botanical recipe (juniper, lemon peel, grapefruit peel, rosemary and ginger) separately, and then blends the results, much as a winemaker might. It is a small-batch process; each distilling run produces about 65 bottles.

Sounds like a very similar process to that used for Bols Genever, I would be interested in how it compares.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Has anyone tried the North Shore line? I didn't see any mentions upthread.

They seem to be striving for heavy juniper in their products, perhaps much like the Leopold products...


Pip Hanson | Marvel Bar

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Has anyone tried the North Shore line? I didn't see any mentions upthread.

They seem to be striving for heavy juniper in their products, perhaps much like the Leopold products...

Yes, I've enjoyed the North Shore line (including their more limited releases). While I find them well made, I haven't found room for either of the gins in my bar. The #11 is a fine example of a London Dry, very good in a negroni, excellent juniper flavor. The #6 is a bit harder to pin down. Not too long ago a trusted bartender demurred at the request for a drink featuring #6. If I had to guess, I'd say he probably was thinking along the lines of others in this thread who question whether it's appropriate to be calling these new-style products "gin". It's a very floral product.

Derek & Sonja are very passionate about what they do, and are excellent ambassadors here in the Chicago beverage community.


True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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In the spirit of making a few replies here to see if the discussion can move forward...

You said - The threshold being when the presence of juniper goes below what can at least reasonably be argued is "primary flavoring."

To which I asked - Which is decided by who?

A valid point at the crux of the current debate...

I don't think the issue of who decides matters overly much to the general subject at debate. Clearly, whoever makes the regulatory determination has decided that some products with very little juniper character are allowed to call themselves "gin." Otherwise these products wouldn't be on the market. Whether this continues, who knows. I imagine that it will, so long as the big producers are able to make money selling a product labeled "gin" that doesn't particularly taste like gin. It's a bit like the SUV loophole that allowed these vehicles to be legally classified as trucks rather than cars, and therefore subject to lower emissions and efficiency standards. It still didn't make them actual trucks. But everyone was making money on them and no one was complaining, so on it went.

But this is quite separate from one's ability to debate or indeed complain about the prevalence of products out there calling themselves "gin" that don't seem to have the predominant flavor of juniper which is the single most important defining characteristic of the spirit. As to this point, naturally, people who agree that a defining characteristic of gin is having a predominant flavor of juniper may reasonably disagree as to whether a specific product does or does not have such predominant flavor. This is why we have these discussions. Suggesting that one shouldn't debate or complain about these things is a bit like saying that one isn't allowed to debate or complain about bitters that aren't bitter or transplantation of American rootstock onto European grape vines because that water has run under the bridge.

What you seem to be arguing -- and perhaps I have simply misunderstood you -- is that having a predominant flavor of juniper is not a defining characteristic of gin, but only a defining characteristic of London dry gin, and that the so-called "new western dry gins" simply exist as a different designation of gin that does not include having predominant flavor of juniper as a defining characteristic. If it is incorrect or mistaken, I would like to hear your position on this stated in a similarly clear manner. Or are you, rather, arguing that it's all a judgment call so we should stop debating/complaining because who can say one way or the other (more on which below)?

Anyway, what's unclear to me is what difference it could make one way or the other as to the "right" or propriety to criticize self-proclaimed gin products that do not appear to have a predominant flavor of juniper. All that means ultimately is that one disagrees with the judgment of some governmental panel. My strong suspicion, for whatever little it may be worth, is that so long as some amount of juniper can be detected, these products are all getting a pass. If one is arguing that predominance of juniper flavor is not important, that is a different story.

As I've already said, the issue isn't necessarily about them being called gin (because who is it that decides whether something tastes predominantly of juniper?), the problem is the designation.

It seems to me that both the United States and EU regulations as to what can be called a "gin" under any designation quite clearly specify that the spirit must have a predominant flavor of juniper. Would you agree that's true?

You seem to have argued (and again, please correct my misinterpretations of your arguments where they exist) that it's only "London dry gin" that needs to be "juniper led." Perhaps you could start by explaining what "juniper led" means? This is a term I have only heard used by you. How is this different from "having a predominant flavor of juniper"?

It also seems to me from reading the EU regulations, that many of the "juniper deprived" new gins out there should be able to qualify as London dry gins if they wanted to. The main difference between "distilled gin" and "London gin" as outlined by the EU regulations is that "London gin" has to be made exclusively by distilling high quality ethyl alcohol in the presence of natural plant materials to 70% abv, whereas "distilled gin" only has to distill juniper berries with a lower quality of ethyl alcohol, is allowed to use essences, etc. for the other flavorings and does not seem required to distill up to a specific percent abv. In fact, the EU regulations for London gin don't say anything about the presence of juniper flavor at all, except to say that it is "a type of distilled gin" which presumably means that it is subject to the same requirement that the "juniper taste is predominant." So, for example, if Hendrick's gin (which has already apparently passed the "predominant flavor of juniper" test) were flavored exclusively by distillation instead of adding cucumber and rose essences, there is nothing about the flavor profile that would prevent if from proclaiming itself a "London gin" despite not being "juniper led."

Genever, by the way, is not classified in the EU regulations as a "gin" but rather a "juniper flavored spirit drink," the requirements for which are simply that ethyl alcohol be flavored with juniper berries and possibly other flavorings, and that "the organoleptic characteristics of juniper must be discernible, even if they are sometimes attenuated." "Discernible, even if attenuated" strikes me as a significantly lower bar to clear than "juniper taste is predominant."

Again, whether or not these EU regulations are the absolute last word as to the traditional characteristics of these spirits is another matter. But, needless to say, I think part of the issue is absolutely about them being called gin if they barely taste of juniper, or if what juniper character there is is obscured behind a bunch of other flavors. Really, that's what it comes down to. I don't think it's a matter of debate that these new-generation gins are moving juniper character ever increasingly into the background. And, as I said earlier, one can disagree as to whether a particular gin does or does not have a predominant character of juniper. Personally, I'd say that a pretty decent bar is to nose a glass of it and if the first thing you notice is juniper, then it has a predominant character of juniper. If the first thing you notice is cucumber or citrus or something other than juniper, then it probably does not have a predominant character of juniper.

Of course, different people have different sensitivities to different scent molecules and interesting disagreements can arise. But I don't get the sense from the foregoing that you have argued that a lot of these "new breed gins" do have a predominant character of juniper. Rather you have seemed to argue something along the lines of "this is a vast gray area because who gets to decide if something tastes predominantly of juniper so stop complaining about it." I say, on the contrary, that this is the whole point of having conversations like these.

Now... on the other hand, I could get behind your argument that there needs to be a different designation for these "gin like" spirits that have other flavors which are stronger than juniper, so long as the designation makes this clear. "New breed gin" or "new western dry gin" don't satisfy this requirement for me, because they still lead to the expectation that the spirit will have the traditional juniper flavor that defines gin. And they are clearly presenting themselves as being more or less in the same category of spirit. But, for example, "infused gin" or "flavored gin" wouldn't particularly bother me. Both those designations would make it clear that the product was going to have some prominent flavor other than the traditional flavor profile of gin, but that the traditional juniper component would be in the background somewhere. And these kinds of designations would also make clear that it isn't really gin. One doesn't expect a whole lot of whiskey character in "flavored rye whiskey," and one also doesn't expect that "flavored rye whiskey" is going to behave like rye whiskey. Perhaps this is what you're getting at? It would be a bit like Orangerie calling itself a "Scotch whisky infusion."

The reason I've joined in with the discussion in this thread is that I've gotten extremely bored of the whole new western gin debate (specifically all the bashing); there's a grey area within the gin category as I've pointed out (who decides if something tastes predominantly of juniper?) and that's where the problem lies.

I see it as an evolution of the category, genever to Old Tom to London Dry and now the new breed. The great thing is that we can now get our hands on all of these styles of gin, some good, some bad, some great, some mind-blowing.

What I see through all of these traditions except for some of the "new breed" is juniper. And I would argue that it is juniper character that has enabled gin to work in such a vast repertoire of cocktails throughout the ages.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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In honor of Mr. Kinsey's Tolstoy length post I will go home tonight,chop down my neighbors juniper bush, run it through my chipper, put it in a pot, dump all my non-juniper gin, which is not really gin, into it, lock it in the basement for a month, strain it out, and submit if for analysis by the S.L. Kinsey True Gin Examination and Approval Society.


Edited by lancastermike (log)

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In honor of Mr. Kinsey's Tolstoy length post I will go home tonight,chop down my neighbors juniper bush, run it through my chipper, put it in a pot, dump all my non-juniper gin, which is not really gin, into it, lock it in the basement for a month, strain it out, and submit if for analysis by the S.K. Kinsey True Gin Examination and Approval Society.

Wouldn't it be easier to just take a Sharpie® to the bottles and cross out "gin"? After all, the experiment above wouldn't produce "gin", but rather juniper-infused gin...if I read his post correctly.


True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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Not for nothing was it recently suggested to me that many of these were designed as spirits that don't particularly taste like gin by people who don't particularly like gin to be sold to to people who don't particularly like the taste of gin but for some reason want to drink something called "gin."

Honestly... if you don't like juniper, then why would you want to drink gin? And, again, I am in no way saying that any of these products is necessarily a bad quality product. The quality of the product is an entirely separate issue.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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The vodka field is so crowded right now that it must be nearly impossible to introduce a new product with any chance of getting a foothold; not so with gin. Lots more bar and store shelf space, in particular.

In addition, I've heard many people say, "I know you say you don't like gin, but you'll like this gin." Suddenly, people who hate gin like it. Or "it," depending on your perspective.


Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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for me i don't need some establishments authoritative definition of gin. i'm a connoisseur. i'm my own authority. i don't even need bottles labeled to conform to my opinions. we probably don't need consumer protection from bad art. if people want to make "sprite eau-de-vie" and call it gin let them. as long as i have buying options.

any liquor establishment would have a hard time regulating gin because we don't even know enough about the nature of aromas to force a quantifiable definition. "a gin must have X grams of extract from juniper per liter." this wouldn't cut it. the "dry" in london dry refers to the tension between aromas that decrease the perception of sweetness (and contributions from alcoholic proof) and aromas that increase the perception. its beyond our means to force a sense of tension and it constrains innovation. many potential gin botanicals exist on either side of that tension.

my definition of gin is:

1. contains juniper. my favorites being the juniper dominated. though i also like hops as an juniper alternative.

2. cheap. gin is full of opportunity for ingenuity. so many producers waste effort and money making their own intensely neutral spirits at poor economies of scale when the creative linkage of their botanicals is weak. you can make gins i'd call great for low dollars.

3. gin is full of protectionism and high art exclusivity. and its part of the fun! the science of producing gin is barely public knowledge. which is why so many new producers struggle to produce anything great. established producers also create barriers to entry by claiming the usage of botanicals that are insignificant to their recipes. new producers apparently fall for it. so many new products smells more like sprite or black pepper because bombay saphire tricked everyone into thinking their success was due to botanicals like cubebs and grains of paradise.

the evolutions of a less dry style to appeal to the vodka convert doesn't sum it all up for me. i believe it is because the most economically significant gin drink is/was the martini and many producers internalized the aromatic contributions of dry vermouth (stole vermouth's market share in the drink) and the lemon twist. for the last several decades barely a bartender knew how to effectively use a lemon twist. they only served inert pieces of rind so there was an incentive to internalize their effect.

now that the vermouth free martini is less economically significant, demand will grow for truly dry gins that create pleasurable tension when mixed with loud adjuncts (think grenadine) that increase the perception of sweetness (we love the tension).

people are also back to acquiring acquired tastes. through great bar experiences, the dissonant pine tree is becoming the consonant soul purifier.


Edited by bostonapothecary (log)

abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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It's remarkable even to consider that people might be trading on the cachet of the term gin...


True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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The vodka field is so crowded right now that it must be nearly impossible to introduce a new product with any chance of getting a foothold; not so with gin. Lots more bar and store shelf space, in particular.

Chris, I am sure that's part of it. It's true that there is a desire among people to drink something called "gin" for whatever reason. I do fear however, that these people can be a bit like those who wanted to drink a "Martini" out of the V-shaped glass without actually, yanno, liking Martinis.

In addition, I've heard many people say, "I know you say you don't like gin, but you'll like this gin." Suddenly, people who hate gin like it. Or "it," depending on your perspective.

Right. Part of the difficulty there is that this person likes the product they have been served, but doesn't necessarily like gin. But now having this idea that such-and-such product is "gin" they go and try an Aviation or a Ramos Fizz or a Martinez or a Clover Club or a Gin Gin Mule or a Gimlet with this product, and: "Yuck! It completely doesn't work. It's terrible. I'm sticking to my North Shore #6 'Fleur de Lys' cocktail that has those flowery flavors that go with it." An actual juniper-flavored gin, of course, would work in all those drinks. So what we have is not someone who likes gin. but rather someone who likes North Shore #6, which is more or less sui generis. (NB. I am using North Shore #6 purely as an example spirit based on KD1191's description of it as high quality and floral but not very gin-like -- not saying anything bad about it.)

It's remarkable even to consider that people might be trading on the cachet of the term gin...

Yea. I will say that that's pretty cool.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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...I could get behind your argument that there needs to be a different designation for these "gin like" spirits that have other flavors which are stronger than juniper, so long as the designation makes this clear. "New breed gin" or "new western dry gin" don't satisfy this requirement for me, because they still lead to the expectation that the spirit will have the traditional juniper flavor that defines gin. And they are clearly presenting themselves as being more or less in the same category of spirit. But, for example, "infused gin" or "flavored gin" wouldn't particularly bother me. Both those designations would make it clear that the product was going to have some prominent flavor other than the traditional flavor profile of gin, but that the traditional juniper component would be in the background somewhere. And these kinds of designations would also make clear that it isn't really gin. One doesn't expect a whole lot of whiskey character in "flavored rye whiskey," and one also doesn't expect that "flavored rye whiskey" is going to behave like rye whiskey. Perhaps this is what you're getting at? It would be a bit like Orangerie calling itself a "Scotch whisky infusion."

I'll jump in briefly to note that I've taken to calling these spirits "International Style" gins, since like International Style architecture they're not grounded in any one nation's historical tradition of spirit-making, they're cheap to construct, sleek and anodyne.

I think the real key to the sudden deluge of these things is the saturation of the vodka market, as has been pointed out here. Gin is almost as cheap to make as vodka, since it requires no aging before it can be sold (as opposed to, say, old rye whiskey, peach brandy or maple rum, to pick three things I'd like to see much more of) and the botanicals aren't all that expensive in the greater scheme of things. You're still working with GNS, and that's easy. Yet it has a marketable cachet (as has also been pointed out), if perhaps one that requires a little more work than vodka.


aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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I like this and I think there's a resemblance to international style wines, made with little local character and designed to appeal to the masses who don't like the subtlety and structure you tend to find in local traditions, especially those from the Old World.

As for gin having cachet, I do think that's kind of cool but when you boil it down to the fact that there's a saturated vodka market and the next best installed base is gin, with concomitant dollars spent by the likes of Tanqueray to market not just their brand but the spirit itself, this coat-tail riding has likely only just begun. But if I can get one or two good gins out of it, I can ignore the junk. I don't know if it fits this category, but I quite like Small's which I only use in some applications but when I do it shines (eg martini with grapefruit bitters, gin fizz). Still takes a bit of judgment to match it though, that's why Beefeater's is my go to.


nunc est bibendum...

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Well, ok, yeah. As long as there's a way to differentiate them from London gins (dry or Old Tom), Plymouth gins or Hollands, I'm fine with people calling them gin. I don't mind Canadian whisky being called whisky (kidding!). Seriously, American whiskey is a poor representation of Scotch/Irish whisk(e)y, although delicious in its own right, and English gin a piss-poor version of Hollands, although again wonderful in its own right. You can rarely make Scotch drinks with rye or Hollands drinks with Old Tom or London dry. (London gins' heavy use of botanicals was originally derided and held up as an example of adulteration, given that the Dutch only used juniper and perhaps a handful of hops, relying on expensive malt and rye to give flavor to their product.)

If you think about it, these International-Style things do function as gins--they emphasize the botanicals, not the base spirit (obviously this is where Hollands differs from its many and more successful children) and, more importantly, they're invariably mixed, not drunk straight. You just have to invent your own cocktails for them. That, too, is nothing new: the Dry Martini was an English gin drink, not a Hollands one, and indeed helped kill the category. As long as that doesn't happen to London dry, I'm cool.

What I'd like to see, then, is these things deciding on a goddamn subcategory and identifying themselves with it, so when I'm fixing to Mart up or drink some Aviations or whatnot i won't drop $35 on something that tastes like my grandmother's potpourri boiled in drilling mud.

Chances o them doing that? Slim. Ah, well.


aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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So, of course as soon as I get done talking about how I don't particularly care for North Shore #6, I sidle down to the watering hole and order up a "Bronx with Bitters" from a new (to me) bartender...he looks me over and extracts a North Shore bottle from the back bar. "I don't normally care for the Bronx, I find it far too flat," he says (insulting my favorite classic cocktail), "so, I'm going to amp it up a bit with this." He produces North Shore "Mighty Gin"...according to him, a bar/restaurant-only (for now, at least) over-proof version of #6. I didn't catch the exact proof, but I know it was well over 100. To put it bluntly, it was wicked. I still don't know how much juniper I was tasting, but the finished cocktail was really nothing short of amazing...

Words partially eaten, they went down fine with a shot of Fernet.


True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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