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TallDrinkOfWater

New Generation Gins

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I was given a bottle of Darnley's View gin (http://darnleysview.com/) this week to review on my blog. I've not written it up yet but intend to on the 23rd July.

It's a relatively new London Dry (from Scotland), with predominant juniper and coriander balanced against layers of citrus and elderflower. A very interesting gin...


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Regarding Bluecoat, I tried it once at a bar and thought it was horribly distilled and harsh. I thought maybe it might have been the bartender's technique and bought a bottle on the strength of other people's recommendations. I again found it horribly distilled and harsh.

As someone who spends their own money on booze, that's all the chances I'm going to give it.

The last straw was an article I read with the distiller, where the interviewer asked about the base spirit for the gin. He replied with words to the effect, "We use really cheap Grain Neutral Sprits as the base for our gin. They wouldn't work in a vodka, where you can actually taste the base spirit, but in a gin, where the botanicals cover the flavor of the base spirit, it is fine." That tells me about all I need to know, and no, the botanicals don't cover the flavor of your cheap base spirit.

Which sort of segues to a larger point, with the explosion of micro-distilleries in the US, how many great distillers are there in this country? 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?

Another point, Americans tend to take the attitude of following their own muse, when it comes to making spirits (and other things). I've met distillers who hadn't even tasted Absinthe before deciding to make their own. They just asked their friends for their opinions, finalized the recipe, and released it to the public.

One of the reasons I kind of like Square One Botanical, not just because it is a quality product, but because they DIDN'T release it as a gin.

If you're going to go as far outside of the box as some of the modern gins have, why even bother labeling it Gin?


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Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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If you're going to go as far outside of the box as some of the modern gins have, why even bother labeling it Gin?

Amen, brother.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Which sort of segues to a larger point, with the explosion of micro-distilleries in the US, how many great distillers are there in this country? 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?

According to The Book of Gins and Vodkas: A Complete Guide, by Bob Emmons, there are four major grain processing companies in the U.S. that distill grain alcohol:

ADM

Midwest Grain Co.

Grain Processing Corporation

Seagram's

Together, they make 99% of the potable grain spirits used to make vodka in the U.S. Basically, according to Emmons, nearly all vodka makers in the U.S.(I imagine this applies to gin producers as well), with the exceptions of few true micro-distilleries, purchase grain alcohol by the tank-car load, (possibly re-distill it, though that's actually the exception), and add their own water to bring it to bottle proof. Even Tito's does this. He dilutes the base (190 proof) spirit to 100 proof, redistills it, then dilutes it again to 80 proof. Seagram's is probably the only mass market vodka/gin producer that manufactures its own neutral grain spirit.

In some European countries, the distilleries are government-owned and the neutral grain spirit is sold to rectification companies.

Interesting fact about British gins: British law forbids the making of gin on the same premises where neutral grain spirits are made. So even British gin is made from neutral grain spirit that purchased or made elsewhere.

I do know that Pennsylvania Pure Distilling in Pittsburgh, for example, who make Boyd & Blair Vodka, do make their own mash from locally grown potatoes and distill the vodka themselves in small batches.

Philadelphia Distilling's website, however, contradicts the statements quoted from that interview, but they're certainly not going put that on a website.


Edited by brinza (log)

Mike

"The mixing of whiskey, bitters, and sugar represents a turning point, as decisive for American drinking habits as the discovery of three-point perspective was for Renaissance painting." -- William Grimes

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Yes, I understand this. Very few distillers produce their own Grain Neutral Spirits for Gin or Vodka.

Even those that do, often only produce a small portion of "flavoring spirit" and then blend it with purchased Neutral Spirits.

And it makes sense, the types of large scale continuous stills which are able to produce highly refined GNS are not really economical for a micro-distillery.

However, when talking to the folks at House Spirits they told me there are many different grades and types of Grain Neutral Spirits which can be purchased from these companies. From stuff that will be used for perfume to basically unaged whiskey, they allow you to specify what grains, proof, quality, etc.


---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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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?


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I think it speaks to micros in general. There are a zillion of them out there selling $35 bottles of gin or $40 bottles of "aged apple vodka" or $50 bottles of whiskey, but very few of them are turning out anything that approaches being as good as a $22 bottle of Tanqueray or a $19 bottle of Laird's bonded or a $23 bottle of Wild Turkey.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I think it speaks to micros in general. There are a zillion of them out there selling $35 bottles of gin or $40 bottles of "aged apple vodka" or $50 bottles of whiskey, but very few of them are turning out anything that approaches being as good as a $22 bottle of Tanqueray or a $19 bottle of Laird's bonded or a $23 bottle of Wild Turkey.

Do you think this is a function of not being able to take advantage of economies of scale to the same degree or is it something else? I know a lot of small wineries basically set their prices arbitrarily, pricing their stuff as high as they think they can while still selling all of what they make each year; the amount you pay often has little to do with what it takes to produce what is in the bottle. Do small distillers follow a similar pattern? I'd love to be able to support small distillers (there are even a few in TX now making something other than vodka) but the pricing makes that challenging.

I consider (perhaps not accurately) St. George in California to be a relatively small distiller, and yet their product lineup tends to be pretty reasonably priced for what it is. Same with Anchor. Compare with Clear Creek, which I imagine to be about the same size; even accounting for the presumably higher cost of making fruit distillates, the disparity in pricing is remarkable. Both great companies making great products but what gives?

Another problem is that when small distilleries aren't making stuff for the masses (ie vodka) they are making things with such a limited novelty value (white whiskey, for example) that any given customer is going to take some time to go through the first bottle--very little repeat business so they have to price higher to make more per unit, meaning the bottle is more dear and gets consumed slower. Vicious cycle.

Apart from the economy of scale and the startup delay (4 years minimum to age the first batch of "good" whiskey), what keeps the small guys from being able to make something competitive in terms of quality and pricing? Whole thing makes me wonder if perhaps liqueurs aren't a better option for people interested in microdistilling.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Another way to do it is like what Redemption Rye does: Release a young product and hold some back for more aging so that eventually you'll find the sweet spot. I should hasten to point out that they're selling it at a reasonable price and seem to know plenty about the tradition and history of rye whiskey, so that they're able to do something somewhat unusual (much higher percentage of rye grain in the mashbill) that still doesn't break them out of the category.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Getting back to new generation gins for a moment, one of the interesting aspects of these low-juniper gins, I think, is that the other botanicals are more readily discernible. However, it seems that most of the low-juniper gins tend to lean heavier on the citrus. What would be an example of a new generation gin that isn't citrus-heavy, ie, one that tastes more distinctly of the herbaceous botanicals? (However, maybe such a thing would be closer to being an aquavit than a gin.)


Edited by brinza (log)

Mike

"The mixing of whiskey, bitters, and sugar represents a turning point, as decisive for American drinking habits as the discovery of three-point perspective was for Renaissance painting." -- William Grimes

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What strikes me is the growing need for a term that describes some of these new, largely juniper-free gins. "Infused vodka" doesn't capture the thing. Lines seem to be blurring here.


Pip Hanson | Marvel Bar

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I dunno. There was an incident at Tales this past week that I only heard tell of (from mulitple sources), since I wasn't present at that particular seminar, but I understand this same rant against Bluecoat was carried out in front of a huge group of people, in response to a question that seemed to be asked by a planted audience member. I find it interesting that Mr. Pacult has to be so vitriolic in his bashing of products he doesn't like. Isn't taste completely subjective? If there's inconsistencies then point that out that way. No need to squash a small company that's trying to do good work. Bringing attention to a distilling issue is one thing. Making someone your whipping boy is entirely another. Smacks of unprofessionalism and a personal grudge to me. :shrug:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

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What would be an example of a new generation gin that isn't citrus-heavy, ie, one that tastes more distinctly of the herbaceous botanicals? (However, maybe such a thing would be closer to being an aquavit than a gin.)

Except that aquavit is supposed to have the primary flavoring of caraway.

What strikes me is the growing need for a term that describes some of these new, largely juniper-free gins. "Infused vodka" doesn't capture the thing. Lines seem to be blurring here.

Fundamentally, of course, gin and aquavit and absinthe, etc. are all infused-then-redistilled vodka. The difference between one of these largely juniper-free spirits and what one would generally call "infused vodka," is really just level of complexity. Most self-identified "infused vodkas" are one or perhaps two-flavor infusions, whereas the spirits we are talking about may have from a half-dozen to a dozen or more flavor constituents.

I think you're right that a new vocabulary might be helpful. We wouldn't call a spirit that moved the anise and bitter flavors way to the background "absinthe," after all. In some ways, I wonder whether some of these "new generation gins" bother including juniper in the mix simply so that they can hold onto the notion that it's still "gin." It's interesting to note now often one reads a quote from a microdistiller making "gin" who says some version of, "I wanted to do something different, so I put juniper in the background and highlighted the flavors of [something that isn't juniper]." Nowaways, of course, it would really be "something different" to hear a microdistiller say he wanted to make a juniper bomb that tasted like being spanked in the mouth with a Christmas tree.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I've been using a lot of aquavit recently and it's gotten me thinking about the points you raise. Gin is to juniper as aquavit is to caraway, or so goes my thinking. So what if someone makes a spirit with several botanicals, most prominently cardamom? Or a spirit with heavy lavender notes? What do we call those?

It's as you say, Sam - the difference is in the complexity, the layering of botanicals that separates these "gins" from "infused vodka". Perhaps there may be some marketing forces at work there? "Gentian Lavender Citrus Grapefruit Rhubarb Anise Chamomile Vodka" sounds like a train wreck, of course. (On the other hand, in my part of the world, "gin" still sounds like a train wreck to some people.) Whence the need for new, more accurate nomenclature.

ETA: With all due respect, Katie, smacks of wounded local pride to me. I'm not sure where the personal grudge would be derived from on Mr. Pacult's part, but if you had experienced the bottles of Bluecoat that I came upon, you would see his point. Suggesting there was a plant in the audience borders on conspiracy theorist.


Edited by Kohai (log)

Pip Hanson | Marvel Bar

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I thought I made it clear that I wasn't present for the incident in question. I'm basing my reporting of it on MULTIPLE re-tellings of the story to me from several sources at Tales. It was the talk of Tales, from my read of it. The words "unprofessional", "bashing" and "rant" were all words that were used by others to describe the scene to me. The way in which the question was asked made it seem like a plant. I'm hardly paranoid or a conspiracy theorist. This was exactly as described to me using the same words that were used to describe it to me. Not all of the people I heard talking about this were local Philly natives with any sense of local pride. It was very odd and I was stunned when I heard about it the first time, and even more so when I kept hearing about it from so many different people.

In March of this year, when you posted about your "icky" bottles, I immediately forwarded that information on to Robert Cassell, the distiller at Philadelphia Distilling Company. He was very pleased that I'd let him know about the problem. My understanding was that he'd offered to replace your bottles for you. Did that not take place? Did he not follow up with you directly?


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I never heard another word from anyone at the distillery. No replacement bottles were offered.

Look, Bluecoat - when it's right - is a lovely product. I enjoy it, with the caveat that it has quality-control problems that are apparently widely acknowledged at this point.

I'm a little taken aback at the hysteria around this particular subject. Some guy panned some product in a geeky book that very few people even know exists! Horrors! (And hey, no one's complaining about his savaging of many other Not Recommended brands.) I like reading Pitchfork rip bands to pieces, I like reading panned movie reviews, and I enjoyed this spirit review. And it's probably not going to influence me unduly anyway.

I can understand dismay at the undermining of local efforts, but it's not like he bombed the distillery or anything. Let me buy you a drink to soothe momentary frazzled nerves.


Pip Hanson | Marvel Bar

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It's interesting to note now often one reads a quote from a microdistiller making "gin" who says some version of, "I wanted to do something different, so I put juniper in the background and highlighted the flavors of [something that isn't juniper]." Nowaways, of course, it would really be "something different" to hear a microdistiller say he wanted to make a juniper bomb that tasted like being spanked in the mouth with a Christmas tree.

I think Leopold Bros. is doing something like this with their gin. They aren't making it a juniper bomb, but they are very earnestly trying to make the "true" flavor of juniper the heart of the finished product. They distill each botanical separately and only keep the heart of the juniper distillate for inclusion in the final distillation. Their opinion is that most people have a misconception that juniper = pine tar because the "tails" of juniper distillation are so unpleasant and dominate the true flavor in many juniper-dominated gins. A "juniper bomb" would be the result of haphazard or careless distilling...

Leopold Bros. is far and away my favorite "new generation" gin. There's some more info on their process here.


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.

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I never heard another word from anyone at the distillery. No replacement bottles were offered.

I am sorry about that. My impression was that it would be/had been taken care of.

Look, Bluecoat - when it's right - is a lovely product. I enjoy it, with the caveat that it has quality-control problems that are apparently widely acknowledged at this point.

In my email exchange regarding the funked bottles, it was acknowledged that the corks on a particular batch of stoppers were the issue. Much like the occasional bottle of corked wine...

I'm a little taken aback at the hysteria around this particular subject. Some guy panned some product in a geeky book that very few people even know exists! Horrors! (And hey, no one's complaining about his savaging of many other Not Recommended brands.) I like reading Pitchfork rip bands to pieces, I like reading panned movie reviews, and I enjoyed this spirit review. And it's probably not going to influence me unduly anyway.

Glad to hear it won't influence you, but that's not my concern. I'm not hysterical, just really puzzled. You're correct that a review in a geeky book that few are reading isn't really a big issue, but my real concern is that there was a room full of high end bartenders from all over the world that had paid good money to attend this particular seminar. This product was apparently damned with a level of vitriol that made virtually every person present that I knew/was acquainted with repeat the story to me and any one else that would sit still long enough to listen. I'd be surprised to hear that story about any particular product, given the descriptions I heard about the scene. Those Tales attendees are opinion leaders for spirit products, and that level of disrespect for a particular product seems rather out of balance with any other recommendations/cautionary advice for any other products being discussed or sponsored at the conference.

An example I can offer up as an analogy to my discomfort with this is the June 2007 article in Food & Wine in which Editor-in-Chief Dana Cowin stated that there are no maverick chefs in Philadelphia (Shola Olunloya of Studiokitchen, Matt Levin formerly of Lacroix?), no destination restaurants (Amada, Morimoto, Le Bec Fin, the late Susanna Foo?), no decent wine lists (Panorama at the Penns' View Inn boasts the largest cruvinet [at 120 bottle capacity] in the world according to Guinness book of Records, or the lists an any of the previously mentioned restaurants?), no decent fresh ingredient markets other than DiBruno's (Reading Terminal is the oldest indoor farmers market in the country, not to mention the famed Italian market and the wealth of Asian markets here?), no decent cocktail scene (an extremely personal stake through my heart and the hearts of my esteemed colleagues behind the stick), etc. Really? Was any research done at all before the hatchet job?? When someone with that level of influence disses something out of hand, unfortunately people listen, because they're the "experts". With just a tiny bit of research, both Mr. Pacult and Ms. Cowin could have had better answers. Mr. Pacult could have simply called the distillery to see if there was a problem with any particular batch. He would have been told about the corks, just as I was. It strikes me as particularly absurd that not a single one of the overworked and underpaid interns/fact checkers at Food & Wine would have Googled "Philadelphia +wine list" and seen several results with Panorama close to the top of that list. Believe me, the Pacult-Bluecoat Tales scandal pales compared to the true hysteria that comment about "no cocktail scene" in Philly brings out in me. :angry: My point remains about "experts" making broad sweeping statements about anything, especially when they're addressing the opinion leaders in any given crowd, be they high end geek bartenders/mixologists or foodies with magazine subscriptions that are potential travelers to my city and/or potential customers in my restaurant. And there's definitely more than a little bit of local pride backing that up. gallery_7409_6069_13.jpg

I can understand dismay at the undermining of local efforts, but it's not like he bombed the distillery or anything. Let me buy you a drink to soothe momentary frazzled nerves.

Given the level of anger directed toward them, I'm glad the distillery wasn't bombed. It's a nice place run by hardworking, talented people. And I'll gladly take you up on that drink offer should you find yourself in Philadelphia. It's nice to be on the other side of the bar from time to time. We can taste test a bunch of gins and discuss it to death, but without dissing anyone and without unduly influencing anyone. How's that sound? :smile:


Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I was actually in the seminar where Pacault talked about Bluecoat (it was the spirit tasting workshop on Friday morning). In the Q&A section, someone asked for Pacault's opinion of Anchor and Bluecoat. He didn't respond about Anchor (although he might not have heard the whole question), but he talked about how much he disliked Bluecoat.

A plant? I seriously doubt that. But judging from the tone in which the question was asked, I gathered the questioner knew what the response would be.

After flipping through Pacault's book, it's clear that when he dislikes a spirit he really hates it. His scorn for Rogue, for example, is pretty fierce. His comments about Bluecoat certainly aren't out of line with his opinions of his other least favorite spirits.


Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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I wasn't suggesting that Mr. Pacult placed the questioner in the audience, but clearly someone had an agenda. Whether it was another party that might own competitive brands, or even just the questioner themselves, there's little doubt someone wanted to see some fireworks and see Bluecoat get verbally crucified in a large format meeting.

So maybe the problem is that there's a better way to state one's dissatisfaction with a product without leaving a scorched earth??


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I think it speaks to micros in general. There are a zillion of them out there selling $35 bottles of gin or $40 bottles of "aged apple vodka" or $50 bottles of whiskey, but very few of them are turning out anything that approaches being as good as a $22 bottle of Tanqueray or a $19 bottle of Laird's bonded or a $23 bottle of Wild Turkey.

I don't get what the problem is? If you don't like the bottlings being churned out by micro-distilleries because they're not as good as Tanqueray, don't buy them. I mean, if you're comparing every micro-distillery's gin to Tanqueray then you're looking for a particular style of gin (juniper-heavy) so you should only really compare those that are claiming to be juniper-led.

Regarding the price 'issue' the overheads of micros will be significantly higher compared to the likes of Tanqueray, et al which goes a long way to explaining the price difference. The large corporates also churn out ridiculous amounts of pap giving them a tremendous advantage in the monetary stakes.

As for this current issue regarding new-world gins not being juniper led, wasn't it Tanqueray who started the craze with Malacca and Rangpur? And their own Tanqueray 10 isn't even a London Dry, yet I don't hear anyone shouting them down...


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I'm not sure I understand the basis of your strident tone, but will attempt to address your points raised...

I think it speaks to micros in general. There are a zillion of them out there selling $35 bottles of gin or $40 bottles of "aged apple vodka" or $50 bottles of whiskey, but very few of them are turning out anything that approaches being as good as a $22 bottle of Tanqueray or a $19 bottle of Laird's bonded or a $23 bottle of Wild Turkey.

I don't get what the problem is? If you don't like the bottlings being churned out by micro-distilleries because they're not as good as Tanqueray, don't buy them. I mean, if you're comparing every micro-distillery's gin to Tanqueray then you're looking for a particular style of gin (juniper-heavy) so you should only really compare those that are claiming to be juniper-led.

That's not the problem at all. There are plenty of micros out there turning out quality products, and many of them are doing so at a decent price. I am simply stating the fact that the preponderance of them are turning out an inferior product at a higher price. More to the point, and as Erik points out, many of them are turning out product despite a clear insufficiency of knowledge and experience in the spirit categories which they propose to "interpret" or "improve." If you don't take exception to the practice of creating an "absinthe" without actually having tasted, yanno, absinthe -- then that's where you and I part ways.

As I say above, however, there are plenty of good micros out there. I like what Redemption Rye is doing. Practically everything Anchor Distilling touches is gold. House Spirits' Krogstad aquavit is very good. I could go on, but hopefully you're catching my drift by now.

Regarding the price 'issue' the overheads of micros will be significantly higher compared to the likes of Tanqueray, et al which goes a long way to explaining the price difference. The large corporates also churn out ridiculous amounts of pap giving them a tremendous advantage in the monetary stakes.

Obviously we know that the larger and more established makers have advantages of scale, etc. Although I should point out that the local micros don't have to pay import tax and incur the cost of shipping their products across the ocean. The point is, however, that regardless of your size, if you're going to charge 35 bucks for a bottle of gin, it had damn well better compete with a $25 bottle of gin on a quality basis. This would seem to be eminently possible, as the quality and conception of the product are entirely in the hands of the maker. Nevertheless, far too many of them don't come close to meeting this bar.

As for this current issue regarding new-world gins not being juniper led, wasn't it Tanqueray who started the craze with Malacca and Rangpur? And their own Tanqueray 10 isn't even a London Dry, yet I don't hear anyone shouting them down...

This doesn't make much sense. Rangpur gin came out in 2006, long after this trend was underway. Malacca came out in 2000, and has plenty of juniper character (I am in a position to know this, having a little less than a case stashed in my apartment). I'm not sure what makes Tanqueray 10 "not a London dry" other than the fact that it doesn't say that on the bottle. But, for whatever it's worth, it's not a gin I particularly like and I wouldn't pay 40 bucks for a bottle of it. But at least you can't accuse them of not knowing the traditions of gin. It's clearly a gin maker trying to make money in the "premium gin for vodka drinkers" market. Beefeater is doing the same thing. Not their flagship products, though.

My guess at the bottling that started this trend would be Bombay Sapphire, which was the first gin of which I am aware that downplayed juniper and backed off the botanicals overall in order to create a "gin for vodka drinkers." This was back in 1987, and of course subsequent exploration in this direction makes Sapphire seem downright flavor-packed and juniper-forward in comparison to some modern examples. And yea, I think you will find that there are plenty of people who don't have lots of great things to say about Sapphire and will suggest that Bombay Dry is a better product that is more true to the style. Hendrick's, introduced in 1999, is my guess as the gin that really kicked off the trend of moving juniper to the background and bringing nontraditional flavors to the foreground.

To be clear, although many of these spirits may not be interesting to me, I'm not necessarily saying that they aren't good spirits. There is just a question in my mind as to whether or not they are properly called "gin." Many of these could drop juniper altogether and it wouldn't change the fundamental character of the spirit and its mixing characteristics one iota. This, in my opinion, is a problem if you are going to call the product "gin." Consider that a large number of these products simply do not work -- do not "act like gin" -- in the vast catalog of gin cocktails that has grown up over the decades. This, in my opinion, is a problem if you are going to call the product "gin." It seems pretty simple to me: If it looks like a gin, smells like a gin, tastes like a gin, acts like a gin, mixes like a gin... then it's a gin. If not... then it's not.

So, the fact that we're talking about the "issue regarding new-world gins not being juniper led" says everything, because gin by definition is juniper led. Having a primary flavor of juniper is not a "style" of gin, it is its defining characteristic. Now, of course there is room within that defining characteristic for some variability. But there are also limitations. The threshold being when the presence of juniper goes below what can at least reasonably be argued is "primary flavoring."


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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How you interpret my tone is completely up to you, I asked Erik a question to which you replied;

"I think it speaks to micros in general."

Hence my reply.

That's not the problem at all. There are plenty of micros out there turning out quality products, and many of them are doing so at a decent price. I am simply stating the fact that the preponderance of them are turning out an inferior product at a higher price.

Taste is subjective, who is it that decides whether something is inferior/superior?

More to the point, and as Erik points out, many of them are turning out product despite a clear insufficiency of knowledge and experience in the spirit categories which they propose to "interpret" or "improve." If you don't take exception to the practice of creating an "absinthe" without actually having tasted, yanno, absinthe -- then that's where you and I part ways.

I cannot speak for any of these inexperienced people and what they claim they are trying to do, but if they haven't a clue what they are doing and don't understand the industry then I obviously take exception.

But, and I guess this is the stance they would take, what's the difference between them and an enthusiast/blogger who has an opinion on a specific subject that they have no experience of being in? You have to start somewhere.

As I say above, however, there are plenty of good micros out there. I like what Redemption Rye is doing. Practically everything Anchor Distilling touches is gold. House Spirits' Krogstad aquavit is very good. I could go on, but hopefully you're catching my drift by now.

Your drift was caught long ago.

Obviously we know that the larger and more established makers have advantages of scale, etc. Although I should point out that the local micros don't have to pay import tax and incur the cost of shipping their products across the ocean. The point is, however, that regardless of your size, if you're going to charge 35 bucks for a bottle of gin, it had damn well better compete with a $25 bottle of gin on a quality basis. This would seem to be eminently possible, as the quality and conception of the product are entirely in the hands of the maker. Nevertheless, far too many of them don't come close to meeting this bar.

You've just pointed out costings to suit your point, relatively weak they are as well.

That's just business, there are always stand-outs, it's the consumer who ultimately decides. If you don't like it, don't buy it. If you think a product could be improved, tell the producer. Don't just write if off straight away unless they repeatedly make the same mistake.

This doesn't make much sense. Rangpur gin came out in 2006, long after this trend was underway. Malacca came out in 2000, and has plenty of juniper character (I am in a position to know this, having a little less than a case stashed in my apartment). I'm not sure what makes Tanqueray 10 "not a London dry" other than the fact that it doesn't say that on the bottle. But, for whatever it's worth, it's not a gin I particularly like and I wouldn't pay 40 bucks for a bottle of it. But at least you can't accuse them of not knowing the traditions of gin. It's clearly a gin maker trying to make money in the "premium gin for vodka drinkers" market. Beefeater is doing the same thing. Not their flagship products, though.

Of course it makes sense.

Rangpur - The point is that it's a gin that's not juniper-led.

Malacca - I agree the juniper is there but it is very, very subdued (I am also in a position to know this having tried it and also being in possession of it). It was released at the beginning of the recent surge.

Tanqueray 10 - There's a reason it doesn't say 'London Dry' on the bottle, because it isn't one.

I must point out that I have nothing against Tanqueray, I love their products, I merely used it as an example of a large producer making products that aren't 'London Dry' that aren't being shouted down.

And it has nothing to do with knowing the traditions, the point I am trying to make is that they are no different.

My guess at the bottling that started this trend would be Bombay Sapphire, which was the first gin of which I am aware that downplayed juniper and backed off the botanicals overall in order to create a "gin for vodka drinkers." This was back in 1987, and of course subsequent exploration in this direction makes Sapphire seem downright flavor-packed and juniper-forward in comparison to some modern examples. And yea, I think you will find that there are plenty of people who don't have lots of great things to say about Sapphire and will suggest that Bombay Dry is a better product that is more true to the style. Hendrick's, introduced in 1999, is my guess as the gin that really kicked off the trend of moving juniper to the background and bringing nontraditional flavors to the foreground.

Going a bit off-track here as Bombay Sapphire is widely acknowledged for revitalising the category which was in no fit shape prior to the release of Sapphire. The recent influx of gins has been in the last decade.

I agree that Bombay Dry is superior to Bombay Sapphire, in my opinion anyway.

To be clear, although many of these spirits may not be interesting to me, I'm not necessarily saying that they aren't good spirits. There is just a question in my mind as to whether or not they are properly called "gin." Many of these could drop juniper altogether and it wouldn't change the fundamental character of the spirit and its mixing characteristics one iota. This, in my opinion, is a problem if you are going to call the product "gin." Consider that a large number of these products simply do not work -- do not "act like gin" -- in the vast catalog of gin cocktails that has grown up over the decades. This, in my opinion, is a problem if you are going to call the product "gin." It seems pretty simple to me: If it looks like a gin, smells like a gin, tastes like a gin, acts like a gin, mixes like a gin... then it's a gin. If not... then it's not.

Are you being paid to say the word gin as many times as you can?

The problem shouldn't be about them being called gin, the problem is the designation.

So, the fact that we're talking about the "issue regarding new-world gins not being juniper led" says everything, because gin by definition is juniper led. Having a primary flavor of juniper is not a "style" of gin, it is its defining characteristic. Now, of course there is room within that defining characteristic for some variability. But there are also limitations.

London Dry gin is a style of gin that is governed by strict laws and has a primary flavour of juniper.

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

Which is decided by who?


Edited by evo-lution (log)

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The problem shouldn't be about them being called gin, the problem is the designation.

So, the fact that we're talking about the "issue regarding new-world gins not being juniper led" says everything, because gin by definition is juniper led. Having a primary flavor of juniper is not a "style" of gin, it is its defining characteristic. Now, of course there is room within that defining characteristic for some variability. But there are also limitations.

London Dry gin is a style of gin that is governed by strict laws and has a primary flavour of juniper.

Some questions here:

1. What are the British laws governing what can be called a London dry gin? There are no such laws in effect in the United States.

We have our own regulations in the United States, by the way. 27 C.F.R. § 5.22c says: " 'Gin' is a product obtained by original distillation from mash, or by redistillation of distilled spirits, or by mixing neutral spirits, with or over juniper berries and other aromatics, or with or over extracts derived from infusions, percolations, or maceration of such materials, and includes mixtures of gin and neutral spirits. It shall derive its main characteristic flavor from juniper berries and be bottled at not less than 80° proof. Gin produced exclusively by original distillation or by redistillation may be further designated as 'distilled.' 'Dry gin' (London dry gin), 'Geneva gin' (Hollands gin), and 'Old Tom gin' (Tom gin) are types of gin known under such designations." (Emphasis added.)

2. What is any example of gin in any style from, say, before 1980, that did not have a primary flavoring of juniper?

3. Can you find any history or historical definition of "gin" that does not say that it is a juniper-flavored spirit or that it derives its predominate flavor from juniper berries or some such similar language?

4. What would you say are the defining characteristics of gin?


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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The problem shouldn't be about them being called gin, the problem is the designation.

So, the fact that we're talking about the "issue regarding new-world gins not being juniper led" says everything, because gin by definition is juniper led. Having a primary flavor of juniper is not a "style" of gin, it is its defining characteristic. Now, of course there is room within that defining characteristic for some variability. But there are also limitations.

London Dry gin is a style of gin that is governed by strict laws and has a primary flavour of juniper.

Some questions here:

1. What are the British laws governing what can be called a London dry gin? There are no such laws in effect in the United States.

We have our own regulations in the United States, by the way. 27 C.F.R. § 5.22c says: " 'Gin' is a product obtained by original distillation from mash, or by redistillation of distilled spirits, or by mixing neutral spirits, with or over juniper berries and other aromatics, or with or over extracts derived from infusions, percolations, or maceration of such materials, and includes mixtures of gin and neutral spirits. It shall derive its main characteristic flavor from juniper berries and be bottled at not less than 80° proof. Gin produced exclusively by original distillation or by redistillation may be further designated as 'distilled.' 'Dry gin' (London dry gin), 'Geneva gin' (Hollands gin), and 'Old Tom gin' (Tom gin) are types of gin known under such designations." (Emphasis added.)

2. What is any example of gin in any style from, say, before 1980, that did not have a primary flavoring of juniper?

3. Can you find any history or historical definition of "gin" that does not say that it is a juniper-flavored spirit or that it derives its predominate flavor from juniper berries or some such similar language?

4. What would you say are the defining characteristics of gin?

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. ;)

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'.

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


Edited by evo-lution (log)

Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters - Bitters

The Jerry Thomas Project - Tipplings and musings

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