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Gin Tasting Notes: Magellan Gin

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Magellan Gin

The requisite amount of time was spent suspiciously eyeing this gin on the shelf and examining its contents under strong lights to determine that indeed, this gin is blue. Fear not, this isn’t merely a marketing ploy involving Blue Lake #1. Magellan Gin is perhaps the world’s only naturally colored blue gin, owing its exotic hue to the iris flowers that grace its bottle. These flowers are steeped in the gin, contributing both a vivid blue and a distinct floral note to its flavor. Subtle notes of spice are also pleasing to the palate.

Well enough, but how does it stack up in a dry martini? Although at least one other reviewer doesn’t recommend Magellan for a decent martini, I find that this gin holds its own well, as long as it isn’t forced to compete with the higher vermouth ratio in a vintage gin recipe. Magellan Gin benefits from a more modern, austere gin to vermouth ratio, anywhere from 5:1, 8:1, or even the fairy-touch spritz of vermouth that I would normally spurn. Like a delicate hothouse bloom, Magellan Gin is best appreciated in the most spartan recipe possible, but might also provide intriguing notes in complex cocktails with bitters.

If you’re simply searching for a better blue martini recipe than those involving blue curacao and sugary additions, this gin will fit the bill while cutting the fluff. Its deep color, barely diluting in the most generous recipes, will certainly draw some attention as a conversation piece. As a sipping gin on its own, its light floral and spice notes will engage the tongue without overwhelming, leaving your mind free to wander while pondering its blue depths.

Gin Tasting Notes: Gordon’s London Dry Gin

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Gordon’s London Dry Gin

Today I sampled Gordon’s, one of the original grandfathers of London dry gin (since the late 1700s) and the dry martini, so much so that it featured prominently in many vintage martini ads (I’ve added a few images). It still uses the original secret recipe, and replicas of the original pot stills used by Alexander Gordon. But this angel has fallen from grace and is now sold in a plastic bottle on the bottom shelf of any liquor store. I avoid the bottom shelf (and plastic liquor bottles) for good reason since my early college years. But the Distracted Hermit’s on a budget, so today was a fine day to rack my pride, stop giving it the side eye, and try a gin I should have tried a long time ago.

10632632_10207542724503551_6332875360701194438_nImage Source: The Martini, Barnaby Conrad III. All Rights Reserved.

This is the world’s most balanced gin. It’s the gin that gin distillers should be required to consume at least five bottles of and memorize what it means to distill a classic juniper gin, not too overpowering in any of its flavors, not too heavy on the kick, soft on the swallow, nor too sweet and smooth, like the new “modern” gins. It’s the perfectly balanced scale; the center of a spinning compass. It should say to distillers, “This is the classic standard. This is what you build upon.” Plastic bottle aside, the Regans (The Martini Companion) still list this gin as one of their first recommendations out of dozens, and they haven’t lead me astray today. Happy New Year.

946458_10207542724943562_5028877681654445070_nImage Source: The Martini, Barnaby Conrad III. All Rights Reserved.

Gin Tasting Notes: Broker’s London Dry Gin

12392036_10207467121253517_606520314754226261_nBroker’s London Dry Gin

We’re long overdue for a Gin Tasting Note, Vacation Week Edition, which allowed me to languidly stroll the city’s new liquor megastore & line up the latest contestants. Today we have Broker’s London Dry Gin, a London import sporting an adorable English bowler hat on its cap & boasting to be the “best gin in the world,” based on a 2010 NY taste test. I hold the results of this test in strong skepticism, being as they placed Scotland’s Hendrick’s Gin in 6th place, only one spot above New Amsterdam – the cloying, biteless king of the 3rd shelf in liquor stores. Anyone with half a tongue knows that Hendrick’s tastes like fairy magic in your mouth. Anyway. While not a #1, they were definitely on to something, as Broker’s manages to combine the personality of the “new” gin style (smooth sweetness) with the old London dry gin’s kick to the throat that keeps you on your toes. It’s lightly reminiscent of Bombay’s Sapphire, without Sapphire’s schizophrenia. Overall, a sipping gin – good enough to drink neat, with a strong enough personality to give you something to ponder. In a 4:1 clean martini, it produces a surprisingly savory afternote that imitates an olive. In a dirty martini, you may want to add some extra dirt, because this gin absorbs brine while pushing its high notes higher. I ended up adding 3x the brine for it to taste properly dirty.

Gin Tasting Notes: Opihr Oriental London Dry Gin.

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Opihr Oriental London Dry Gin

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a Gin Tasting Note. Today I found this intriguing bottle of gin waiting for a review: Opihr Oriental London Dry Gin, hailing from England, of course. Its label manages to sum up a couple centuries of colonialism, as does its description of spices of the former spice route, from India, Morocco, and Indonesia. It delivers on its peppery promise without overwhelming, both on the front and the aftertaste. Curiously they’ve managed to sweep the usual bite of gin under the rug, and this is even more pronounced in both dirty and dry martinis. With the usual bite of gin gone, your martini sipping will turn into martini gulping, so be warned. Verdict: the lack of bite might make a martini enthusiast frown, but it’s perfect if that same bite has kept you from enjoying a martini. And unlike many gins, this one holds up best by itself served neat, unadorned.

Gin Tasting Notes: Spirit Hound Distillers Gin

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Spirit Hound Distillers Gin

The next in my ongoing gin tasting series is Spirit Hound Distillers Gin, produced just down the road in Lyons, and comes recommended to me by at least two people. It’s produced with locally grown “juniper berries, anise, fennel, clove, and cinnamon.” However, the anise overpowers all else in this gin, so if you like anise, then I’ve got a gin for you. Strongly reminiscent of absinthe (but with none of the fun), it transforms a 4:1 clean martini into a taste close to Nyquil. Even the best vermouth cowers in the corner with this gin. If you prefer your martinis dirty, you’ll still grimace with every sip. So unless this gin proves awesome in my champagne cocktails, I’ll be assigning it to my emergency medical supplies as disinfectant.

Gin Tasting Notes: Hendrick’s Gin.

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Hendrick’s Gin, Scotland

It’s gin sampling day again, and I have finally acquired the top shelf gin, Hendrick’s, from Scotland (and now reason #479 to visit Scotland). This is the magnum opus of gins. With eleven botanicals, including an infusion of Bulgarian rose petals, it puts the army of gins I’ve tried to absolute shame. By itself in my glass, it’s a pure epiphany from the first drop, as in a what-have-I-been-drinking-before-this revelation. In a clean 4:1 martini, it’s genius; in a dirty martini, it’s brilliant. Usually strong personality gins make terrible martinis, but this is a remarkable exception. It’s Tchaikovksy’s 1st symphony.

As usual, the bottle of Noilly Pratt is there to remind any martini enthusiasts that if they’re still mixing martinis with Martini & Rossi vermouth, pour that crap down the drain, and get serious.

 

Gin Taste Tests for Martinis.

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Gin Taste Tests for Martinis.

Another gin taste test for martinis. Although Noilly Prat reigns supreme for French vermouth, gin choices aren’t so easy. Even though it lacks prestige, New Amsterdam makes a smooth martini, in the style of the newer, “smooth” gins. It comes off a little too sweet for my taste, and requires a lower percentage of vermouth. Beefeater competes and comes recommended by the Regans (The Martini Companion), but Bombay Sapphire is completely unsuitable for martinis. Next time I’ll try Gordon’s before moving into top shelf.