It may be gin and tonic time, but those of us who love a well-made martini don’t abandon them in the heat. While a good, but not expensive, gin is perfectly serviceable for a mixer, a martini calls for top-shelf goods.
We tasted three premium gins, all priced around $30. Each would make a nice martini, but they all have different flavors and character. Pick your poison, as they say.
Martin Miller’s London Dry Gin was the middle-of-the-road choice. A very lemony, very peppery aroma hints at its bright, zesty flavor with lots of pepper and a touch of pine. It’s clean and delicious with a mild juniper bite.
West Virginia-made Smooth Ambler Greenbrier Gin – while very pleasant – has little juniper kick but instead has more fruit than herbs. We detected orange, honeydew and pineapple in a smooth texture with an assertive finish.
If you want a big juniper jolt in a high-powered gin, Tanqueray No. Ten might be your ticket. The aroma of lime, juniper and freshly rubbed sage is swoon-worthy for gin lovers. Juniper comes through loud and clear in this 96.6-proof package (the other two are 80 proof), with a big lime zest finish.
No. 3 Gin is a classic London Dry Gin, distilled to 92 proof using juniper, orange peel, Angelica root, coriander, grapefruit peel and cardamom. It’s got a pleasant juniper aroma with citrus zest and pine overtones. Its clean, smooth flavor is full of juniper and notes of candied citrus rind.
Named for the harbor in Amsterdam where exotic spices from the east were off-loaded in the 16th century, Damrak Amsterdam Original Gin is decidedly different. A bit lower in alcohol at 83.6 proof, it’s more fruit-focused, with a clean citrus aroma of zest and essential oils and notes of sweet orange on the palate, finishing off with a nice anise kick.