When I began my career behind the stick in 1980, gin drinkers were very loyal to their brand of choice, as well as how they preferred it mixed in a Martini. But the next generation of imbibers had discovered vodka and did not share their parents’ love for gin; gin consumption today remains low compared to other spirits.
The category has been expanding, though—it seems like a new gin launches every week, which is wonderful. But some of the great classics continue to drive the group, so for this tasting we’ll focus on the earlier gins.
47% ABV; distilled from juniper berries, Seville orange peel, coriander seed, orris root, bitter almond, Sicilian lemon peel, angelica seeds and root, licorice.
Aroma: Juniper forward, lemon and orange citrus notes, floral notes but no perfume scents. Spices like black pepper, coriander, anise, and licorice root.
Taste: Alcohol forward, with juniper, spice and light citrus.
Mouthfeel: Dry, intense at first, pleasant acidity.
Finish: Medium in length, with a friendly juniper reminder.
43% ABV; distilled from almonds, lemon peel, licorice, juniper berries, orris root, angelica, coriander, cassia bark.
Aroma: Juniper forward, eucalyptus, pine needles, grassy, spices—pepper and cumin, grapefruit peel.
Taste: More aggressive flavors, big and bold, explodes with citrus and juniper.
Mouthfeel: Big flavor, round and full bodied, not as refined.
Finish: Medium in length, but much bigger flavor at first, very light warming sensation.
47% ABV; distilled from almonds, lemon, licorice, juniper berries, orris root, angelica, coriander, cassia bark, cubeb berries, grains of paradise.
Aroma: Soft alcohol, muddled juniper aroma, floral and fruity at first, with hints of licorice.
Taste: Juniper jumps after first taste, reveling orange and lemon citrus notes and softer, more delicate flavors.
Mouthfeel: Burst of flavors, elegant, refined; great acidity.
Finish: Medium to long in length, with a wonderful warm reminder throughout the chest.
45.2% ABV; distilled from juniper berries, coriander seeds, angelica root, angelica seeds, cassia bark, caraway seeds, nutmeg, rosemary and sage.
Aroma: Rather light, with a hint of juniper and coriander spice; slight citrus notes giving way to herbal tones.
Taste: Rather sweet at the start, with cinnamon and cassia opening up to the coriander/black pepper spice notes and leading to the herbal tones of rosemary and sage.
Mouthfeel: Starts rather silky but dries out quickly.
Finish: Warm, medium in length with just the lingering memory of bitter almonds.
40% ABV; distilled from juniper berries, coriander seeds, angelica root and one other (secret) botanical.
Aroma: Pronounced juniper but not over the top, leading to a unique perfume feature, a touch of vanilla, bright floral notes with light alcohol.
Taste: Juniper, followed by sweetness, with light coriander spice and a nod of bitter almonds.
Mouthfeel: Silky at first, dries out nicely with a fair amount of acidity.
Finish: Rather short, but very smooth and pleasant.
41.2% ABV; distilled from angelica root, coriander, lemon peel, juniper berries, orris root, orange peel, cardamom.
Aroma: Big citrus immediately, followed with pronounced juniper, coriander spice and pleasant floral notes.
Taste: A delightful mix of citrus, juniper and spice.
Mouthfeel: Round, full bodied and just slightly oily.
Finish: pleasant, warm, long and lingering, with notes of fresh herbs and citrus.
47.3% ABV; distilled from juniper berries, coriander, orange and lemon peels, licorice, angelica root and cassia bark.
Aroma: Pops of juniper instantly, pine, eucalyptus, lemon citrus, floral—lavender.
Taste: Big blast of juniper, lemon and orange citrus notes, with just a mingling of black licorice.
Mouthfeel: Viscous, silky, and leading to a bone dry finish with amazing acidity.
Finish: Long, long finish, warming in the chest, masculine intense flavors that linger endlessly. ·
Tony Abou-Ganim is the founder of Las Vegas-based cocktail consultancy The Modern Mixologist and the author of The Modern Mixologist—Contemporary Classic Cocktails and Vodka Distilled.