For the Gin Lover Who Has Everything – Except This
Bombay Sapphire and internationally acclaimed design firm Avro|KO have collaborated on a limited edition Gin Wheel inspired by the classic “Lazy Susan” turntable. Handcrafted from walnut, the portable unit spins on a brushed stainless steel plate and opens up to reveal sleek, hidden alcoves that house every necessity for the perfect Sapphire East gin & tonic – botanicals, garnish, ice, high-quality bar tools, glassware, removable cutting boards, coasters and custom-made stainless steel tongs that double as a locking mechanism. Available through December 2013 exclusively through The Future Perfect (www.thefutureperfect.com), it sells for $500. How cool is that?
“And the sooner the tea’s out of the way, the sooner we can get out the gin, eh?” So says a character in a radio script written by British poet Henry Reed. We say skip the tea and get right to the gin. Life’s short, after all.
So we did just that for our annual gin tasting. Here’s what we liked:
You can find Bombay Gin in just about any bar, anywhere. And the taste is just as reliable as its ubiquity – and at a reasonable price. Bombay 1761 Dry Gin (86 proof; about $16), made with eight botanicals using a vapor infusion process, jumps out of the glass with its cracked black pepper, pine cone and juniper aroma. It’s got a classic taste, heavy on the herbs and juniper, but smooth and zesty. Bombay Sapphire (94 proof; about $20) is more floral – albeit with a solid juniper backbone – and has a bit of delicate lemon. But it also packs a big punch of licorice and coriander spice on the finish. Bombay Sapphire East (84 proof; about $23) is the newest in the line, made with the traditional botanicals but with the addition of Thai Lemongrass and Vietnamese black peppercorns. The lemongrass is subtle, but not the pepper. It’s bold and powerful, with a silky, rich mouth feel.
Another classic gin with a smile-inducing price tag is Brokers London Dry Gin (94 proof; about $16). Made from English wheat in a 200-year-old distillery outside London, it’s very piney with heaps of juniper and a hint of citrus, more peppery and herbal than fruity.
For a premium gin experience, we’ve always liked Tanqueray No. 10 (94.6 proof; about $27). The aroma is refined, with subtle juniper and a mélange of herbs and loads of citrus. Sleek and delicious on the palate it’s redolent of candied lemon peel with a punch of coriander and cumin on the finish.
Hendricks Gin (88 proof; about $32) is in a class all its own. It’s not for everyone – either you love it or you don’t. Distilled in Scotland from the traditional gin botanicals – juniper, citrus, spices – it’s distinctive for the additional infusion of cucumber and rose petals. They contribute a refreshing floral character that makes this gin truly unusual.
We were impressed by what’s happening in the gin department at Watershed Distillery in Columbus. Watershed Four Peel Gin (88 proof; about $26) is distilled from corn and infused with juniper, citrus peel, cassia, Jamaica pepper and coriander. The aroma is full of lively lemon peel, but a big blast of juniper hits on the palate. It’s clean, bright, potent and delicious. Then there’s Watershed Bourbon Barrel Gin; $37 (88 proof; about $37). We’ve never tasted anything quite like it. Yes, it’s Four Peel Gin aged in old bourbon barrels. The aroma isn’t particularly gin-like – more clove and cinnamon – but just as enticing. The flavor is definitely gin, but with an added dimension of all the things yummy about bourbon – cherries, figs, sweet smoke and toffee. Delicious.
Thatcher’s USDA Certified organic artisan liqueurs are made – ironically – in Temperance, Mich. – and come in 11 flavors. We tasted three of these low-proof (15% alcohol) liqueurs recently. They were intensely flavored and quite sweet, so as a mixer, a little goes a long way. We were intrigued by Thatcher’s Yumberry Liqueur, made from a small, red-to-purplish fruit that often goes by its Chinese name, yangmei. The flavor has a candy-like quality with hints of strawberries, vanilla and a touch of cinnamon. Combined with a little fresh lemon juice, vodka and sparkling water, this would make a refreshing summer cocktail. Try Thatcher’s Blood Orange Liqueur as an interesting substitution for Triple Sec in a margarita, with its hint of berry flavor alongside the orange. Or mix with Campari and a splash of soda. Thatcher’s Elderflower Liqueur is very floral and just begs for gin. Add ice and a lime wedge, and you’ve got a nice cocktail. All sell for $19.99/750 ml.
You say you don’t like scotch? We dare you to try Dewar’s Highlander Honey (80 proof; about $23.50) and say that again. Okay, so it’s not pure scotch – it’s Dewar’s White Label Blended Scotch infused with Scottish honey. It’s full of caramelized orange peel, fig, toffee and butterscotch flavor – though not too sweet – but that smoky scotch character peeks out from all those layers and there’s no denying this is the real deal – but all dressed up. Just bring us a straw.