I love a good gin – I’ll make no bones about it, and I won’t hide the fact by any means. A good, solid gin and tonic at the end of a long day is perfect for helping your troubles melt away, and a good gin straight is a perfect nightcap: you hardly need anything else to go with it. That said, I tend to be a Bombay Sapphire kind of guy – that is until this article over at The Kitchn describing four new and different gins you’ve probably never had but should got me thinking about other types of gin that I could try that weren’t necessarily one of the big three: Tanqueray, Bombay, or Beefeater (and no, I’m not even including that crap in the plastic bottle down there underneath those three. That’s not gin.)
Anyway, they have some great suggestions for gins that you can probably get at a local liquor store that you may not have even thought to try – I know I certainly hadn’t.
While Hendricks isn’t one of the gins in their article, I’ll have to toss it in because I’ve heard such wonderful things about it that I couldn’t bear to keep it off the list. People who drink Hendricks swear by it, and if you’ve never tried it, its worth expanding your palate to give it a whirl. Again, I’m following my own advice from my Must Have Bar Essentials guide: never buy to mix a spirit that you wouldn’t drink straight. Sure, it means you’ll spend a bit more money on spirits that will eventually be diluted and mixed into other beverages, but you’ll never worry that the beverage you’re making will taste awful because you put low-quality alcohol into it, thinking “it’ll all get mixed up anyway, I won’t be able to taste it.”
Anyway, give Hendricks a try if you aren’t familiar with it.
Moving on to the piece at The Kitchn, they propose four very interesting gins that I’ve never tried before, although I’d heard of some of them. Death’s Door, for example, is famous by name, but it’s not always easy to pick up. Here’s what they had to say about it:
Death’s Door Gin
Price: $35/750 ml
The Story: Hailing from Washington Island, Wisconsin, this gin is all local all the time. (Its ominous-sounding name doesn’t refer to the spirit’s after-effects, but to a nearby body of water.) Distilled from local wheat and malted barley and flavored with juniper berries that grow wild on the island, as well as locally-sourced organic coriander and fennel seeds. One percent of the company’s annual revenue go to Great Lakes causes.
Flavor: Clean, simple, and direct. Juniper-forward with notes of coriander and fennel.
Now that’s something I wouldn’t mind in a rocks glass straight, maybe with a couple of whiskey stones in it to give it a little chill. I also dig the nice play on the name – making it sound spookier than it is, but really referencing the area in which it’s made. Extra points for that.
I’m also intrigued by their next entry, the Farmer’s Botanical Gin, which comes in a bottle that looks more at home in an apothecary’s lab than in your liquor cabinet. It harkens back to the days when spirits like gin were more than frequently imbibed for their “medicinal” properties as well as their drunken-making ones. Still, the bottle is gorgeous, and if you can’t tell already, I’m a fan of interesting and unique packaging. Anyway, here’s what The Kitchn had to say:
Farmer’s Botanical Organic Gin
Price: $32/750 ml
The Story: From the makers of Crop Harvest Earth Vodka comes a certified USDA organic small-batch gin.
Flavor: The botanicals really shine through in this one: Besides juniper, we have elderflower, lemongrass, coriander, angelica root and other spicy, floral accents. Smooth, nuanced, and fragrant.
Smooth? Gin? Say it isn’t so, and why don’t I have a bottle right now?
I won’t spoil the other two for you, but I will say they’re worth a look. I’m a big fan of gin and I think it’s an incredibly underrated spirit, especially on the high end. Sure, if you don’t like the smell and taste of juniper berries, you’ll probably dislike much of it, but like many liquors and spirits, if you don’t mind the over-arching characteristics and can expand your palate beyond them, there’s a world of delicious nuance and other flavors underneath waiting for you to explore.
Plus, imagine how awesome you’ll feel when you go to a bar and order a gin and tonic with your friends, and then specify the gin? How cool will that be? Enjoy – before the summer’s over.