Gin as a spirit category “has come back from the dead more times than Dracula,” according to David McNicoll, New York market manager for Brockmans gin. Speaking at a tasting and lunch at Mother’s Ruin on Feb. 4 in New York, McNicoll provided a history of gin and a background on Brockmans new-style gin.
Juniper—a key botanical in gin—grows all over Europe and has been used in flavored spirits for centuries, McNicoll said. The English fell in love with the juniper-infused Dutch spirit genever in the late 17th century, which paved the way for the more potent, dry British gins.
The sweeter, Old Tom style of gin became popular for about 100 years in the 18th century, until the London dry style took over for the next century. Since then, the popularity of London dry gins has waxed and waned, McNicoll said: Some find the style too reminiscent of “pine needles and hedge clippings” because of the juniper, he said.
The spirit was so out of fashion when Ian Fleming wrote the first James Bond novel in 1953 that he had the spy drink vodka Martinis instead of the traditional gin version, McNicoll said. But as vodka’s popularity is starting to wane a bit, gin is making yet another comeback.
Gin is all about the recipe—the botanics, McNicoll explained. Brockmans incorporates orange and lemon peel, almonds, orris root, coriander, angelica, licorice, cassia bark and Tuscan juniper botanicals into a pure grain spirit for 24 hours to release their flavors; it’s then distilled in a traditional copper still. It would be a London dry style, McNicoll said, but after distillation Brockmans adds blackberry and blueberry.
Served straight, Brockmans has a tropical fruit aroma from the citrus and blueberries, and a fresh berry taste, McNicoll said. But when you use it in a Moscow Mule instead of vodka, “the ginger beer brings out the angelica and coriander of the gin,” he noted. McNicoll also incorporated Brockmans into a gin slushy–a Mother’s Ruin specialty—with fresh ginger, lime juice, orange bitters and a heavy float of Peychaud’s bitters.
Brockmans, which was launched in the U.K. in 2009, arrived in the New York market seven months ago. It’s currently also available in Massachusetts and New Jersey (and next month in Rhode Island and Connecticut) at a suggested retail price of $35 for a 750-ml. bottle. For more on gin trends, see Next of Gin in the January/February 2015 issue of Cheers.