Gin & Tonic Exploration
Posted: May 31, 2013
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Not to be ignored, of course, is the huge spectrum of gins now available. For small brands and microdistillers, making a great whiskey takes a lot of maturation time, but some have made very interesting gin right off the bat.
Think of Death's Door gin, which has a recipe pared down to juniper berries, coriander and fennel, all sourced from its native Wisconsin. Ransom revives the far sweeter profile of Old Tom Gin, a type that was almost as common as London Dry Gin a century ago. Professor Cornelius Ampleforth's Bathtub Gin is made in a pot still and smacks of orange, cloves and cinnamon.
From the unexpected origin of France we get Citadelle and G'Vine. The former is made with wheat and, in the case of its 88-proof Reserve marque, revives the tradition of slightly aging gin. The latter is not only grape-based, but involves the infusion of flowers from the Ugni Blanc grape used to make Cognac.
Fifty Pounds revives an 18th century recipe and is quite warming. The organic and patriotic Bluecoat has earthy notes and Old Amsterdam is a sweet concoction that fools you with a spicy nose. Hendrick's has distinguished itself with the addition of cucumber flavor, which since has become very popular in cocktail making.
My favorite is Nolet, a dry gin made in Holland by the same maker that produces Ketel One vodka. The Silver edition is elegant and full of roses. The Reserve, probably the most expensive gin in the world at $700, is probably best appreciated in a very dry Martini.
Lest we forget, the most familiar brands are all known for their ability to play well with tonic. Beefeater is the quintessential juniper-heavy gin and makes a very bracing cocktail. Tanqueray 10 already has huge citrus notes with other fruits, and its Rangpur ramps that up with the taste of lime. One of the fruitiest (particularly in the orange direction) is Bulldog. Spicy, but less junipery, Bombay Sapphire has perhaps been foremost in reviving the gin category in recent decades. Its new Bombay East alluringly adds lemongrass and pepper to the mix. Plymouth, a gin category unto itself, is one of most balls-out examples, with plenty of cardamom, orange and juniper.
If none of those gins fit your fancy, you can always pursue the DIY route by getting a bottle of vodka and some of the dozen or so botanicals and aromatics that typically inform gin (e.g. Juniper berries, orris root, fennel, angelica, licorice, cinnamon, coriander, cassia bark, orange peel) and infusing the flavors for a couple days.
But please don't use the bathtub.
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