In the recent years of mixology and extreme bartending, Gin sort of lost it’s luster. Vodka overtook the marketplace, and this drink was left in the dust for old-timers and traditionalists. Everyone knows what a gin and tonic is. You may not like it, but you know what it is. We did a little scouring around to find a few gins that might truly surprise you…and switch your ‘Vodka Cranberry’ to a ‘Gin and Tonic,’ please.
Not all gins are created equal…here is our tried & true review of four very unique spirits.
Our first impression of this classic ‘Americana’ Bluecoat gin was the smooth way it slicks down your throat, leaving a woodsy traditional sort of aftertaste. They use a slower heater process and a copper pot still to make the juniper berry softer on the tongue than most gins. The slower process, organic ingredients and customized still allow for the alcohols to separate, leaving Philadelphia Distilling Co. time to detract all impurities and leave only the best Bluecoat gin behind. Andrew Auwerda, Philadelphia Distilling President, says “It’s not pungent and overly ‘Christmas tree’…if you know what I mean.” We know what he means. Bluecoat Gin was one of the only ones that we were up for third tastings of. It has that distinct juniper feel that gin ought to have, but it’s still safe and ‘nice’. Like a girl you’d bring home to your mother. Bluecoat isn’t too outlandish, and though their motto is “Be Revolutionary!” it feels colonially revolutionary, not like a new contester in the recent gin uprising. How do the Bluecoat guys drink their gin? Andrew takes a Clover Cocktail: Gin, Lemon Juice, Raspberry Syrup & an Egg White. MSRP: $29.99
Breuckelen Distilling’s Gin
A new take on the definition of ‘gin’. Breuckelen is 100% NY state grown wheat, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. The name is the original Netherland namesake of its current hometown. It’s a very cool micro-distillery with beautiful bottling and branding. I wish we could have said as much for the gin. While we found some nice caramel vanilla tones (I don’t know that we were supposed to), it’s hard to believe that this decidedly unpleasant flavor would be used for anything other than industrial purposes. We gave it another go after the first rocket fuel injection to the esophagus, but the flavor refused to improve with continued effort. Breuckelen distills the juniper in such a way to remove the heavier pine pitch, wood and tar. If you’re looking for an experimental new gin, Breuckelen is your guy. The flavors were too sharp and not refined enough for a straight up martini, but it did lend itself well to a few mixed drinks, evening out the immediate ‘Jesus!’ reaction we couldn’t help but shout out. How does Breuckelen’s founder, Brad Estabrooke, drink his gin? He’s been experimenting with a Gibson: dry with pickled onions. MSRP: $39.99
Bulldog really bites! Since the brand is named after Winston Churchill, it’s only appropriate. This spirit hits the back of your throat and kicks and screams all the way down. We couldn’t get enough. “Gin is all about balance. We’ve perfected that,” said Bulldog’s founder, Anshuman Vohra. They use 12 botanicals, more than almost any distiller out there. They quadruple distill the gin, bringing out more and more flavor with each batch. Bulldog’s goal is to make sure the moment it hits your tongue to the finish it you have a special experience the whole way down. “Other (nameless) products burn so much it takes away from the experience. We want it to be pleasant from start to finish.” While we definitely felt the kick, it was the welcome kind, and mixing this with a bottle of Q Tonic has proven to be an office favorite. How does Anshuman take his gin? On the rocks, like a true bulldog. MSRP: $29.99
Greylock, named after the tallest peak in Berkshire Massachusetts, is an earthy, sweet gin. It hits your nose as soon as you drink it, but stays smooth and silky the whole way down. It’s a London dry style, distilled slowly with seven different botanicals—they also use a historic naturally sweet spring water. You can taste the definitive sweetness, a lovely juxtaposition with the robust botanicals. Greylock feels traditional and light…for us, it brought back waves of nostalgia from punk rock British youth with a girl named Margaret. Chris Weld, Berkshire Mountain’s Distiller, says they were painstaking in developing the recipe they wanted to put out. “We’re very cautious as to what we keep in the final product…resulting ultimately in a very clean, fresh product.” Why won’t you find a a fancy wax seal around their bottle head? “I’d rather be making hooch! The wax these days is just for looks. It’s a pain in the ass. We focus on the gin.” It pays off. We went for round two of this one. How does Chris take his gin? An Aviation: Gin, Maraschino Liqueur, Lemon Juice, Crème de Violette. MSRP: $29.99