The Distiller’s grandfathers’s eponymous gin— Gustaf— is grain-to-glass distilled from Winter Rye— hand done at that, and then distilled with a decidedly modern botanical blend, including meadowsweet, oft purported to be the botanical which gave early Hendrick’s a unique touch, sadly since replaced, and botanical du-jour thyme— for that herbally citrusy kick and cucumber— well where isn’t cucumber these days?— all bottled up nice and tidy at the strength the British Royal Navy would have liked— but this one hails from the decidedly inland Rye plains of Minnesota— in a beautiful austere bottle no less.
All Gins containing: Cucumber
One of the process trends from the world of gin has been more and more distillers experimenting with low temperature distillation methods. Many common gin botanicals have aromatics present at room temperature which are destroyed by heat, and therefore are destroyed during conventional distillation.These aromatics are rarely part of gin and are therefore rarely part of consumer expectation.
But therein lies the rub of vacuum distillation.
Long Table’s cucumber gin sources local vegetables, even rounding out the botanical mixture with two peppers in addition to their BC cucumbers. It shares the same high quality base spirit and attention to detail that their other spirits do; however, it differentiates itself with its bright, and decidedly cucumber-forward approach.
Bright, crisp cucumber on the nose. Clearly vegetal with melon/honeydew undertones. There’s a hint of acidic lemon, green juniper and coriander as well.
Where I think it rises above the pre-conceived notions of cucumber flavored gin, or perhaps even the expectations set by some of the ways that cucumber has been used as a botanical as of late, is when it hits the palate. Crisp English cucumber hits at first, but the mid-palate is rife with many traditional juniper touches. Plenty of baking spice, earthy depth, a peak of coriander, and a green— but evolving into a more herbaceous/pine-like juniper note. The coriander spice takes over on the finish but is backed by waves of vanilla cream, honeydew and bell pepper. The finish is crisp and quite long, with more surprises in store. Spicy fresh cracked coriander gives way to some gentle vegetal complexity.
Up in the distilling hotbed of the Pacific Northwest, Counter Gin hails from Batch 206 Distillery in Seattle Washington. They’ve quickly become one of the bigger names on the Seattle distilling scene. Today we take a look at their flagship gin.
In our Own <100 Words
“Small batch,” “local,” “handmade” and “artisan” are among the words that describe the products and philosophy at Batch 206 from the products themselves all the way to the still they’re made on. The gin begins as their flagship vodka. Then, the eight botanicals are steeped in the vodka for 36 hours. The infusion is then redistilled to make Counter Gin. The cucumber and lavender are local, but the rest have their provenance well defined, the juniper is from Albania for example, and we all know how important that can be.
The nose is floral and herbal. Orange, tarragon, rosemary and lavender notes shine out. The notes are bright and fresh, each easy to pick out on its own; however, the nose is a little restrained and not overwhelming. There’s a low vegetal note present as well, calling to mind hints of tarragon and cucumber.
Ahhh Gordon’s. The venerable old name bearer of classic London Dry Gin has taken aim at the burgeoning world of contemporary gin with their new Crisp Cucumber. Gordon’s predictably is a little conservative in their approach. Rather than tacking a radical approach at infusing some wildly novel botanical, they take on an oldie, but a classic. Cucumber is in some of the most popular [Miller’s, Hendrick’s] newer gins and therefore to only the stodgiest gin drinker whose tuned out the last decade or so will cucumber sound “new” or “exotic.”
But that doesn’t mean it can’t be good. Just because it’s been done, doesn’t mean it can’t be done better. So can Gordon’s, a torchbearer for gin’s classic style for the better part of 3 centuries take a step outside their box and make a good gin with cucumber?
Let’s get down to it.
Taste and Nose Cucumber and citrus on the nose. A tad lemon, but there’s a nice bit of juniper in here. Recognizable as not normal Gordon’s for sure. That faint vegetable note, although sweet, might be enough to push folks out of the comfort zone.
Taste is weak and slightly sweet at first, culminating rapidly with a flash of heat and juniper.
Thirteenth Colony Distillers unsurprisingly hails from the United States’ thirteenth colony, and the nations’ fourth state. The gin is called Southern Gin and it comes from a land probably best known for its peaches and pecans. I will say that, and just to dispel the notion that just because a distiller is so proud of their heritage that their distillery is named after the place it comes from; their gin is named for the region they come from, but its not so literal as that its pecans and peaches all the way.
Instead, Southern Gin is refreshing classic styled gin. Bottle and name pays tribute to the self, but the drink itself pays tribute to something even further back in Georgia’s history, that is the place that Georgia’s founder James Oglethorpe was born: Merry Olde England.
Tasting and the Nose The nose is sweet and inviting. A fair amount of juniper. It smells mild and pleasant, with nary a trace of alcoholic burn on the nose.
The taste actually is remarkably true to the nose too. The profile is affable, sweet juniper which fades into warm citrus. Lemon up front but hints of other citrus as well, intimations of grapefruit.
A peculiar review indeed. But perhaps not for the reasons you might think. We’re taking an opportunity to take a look at an early favorite of the Gin is In’s: Hendrick’s Gin. Really the ultimate in gateway gins. But this time, we’re taking a look at the version of Hendrick’s that you folks in the UK are used to seeing. You see, here in the states Hendrick’s is bottled at 44% or about 88 proof. but in the UK? a full 6 proof points lower. 41.4% or 82.8 proof. Does it actually make a difference? Or has my sentiments on Hendrick’s changed in the last 3 years since my initial review?
Getting down to it: Nose and Taste The nose is heavy on the rose, bright and floral with a hint of alcohol as well. Not something I remember from my initial tastes of even the stronger American version. The taste though is smooth and slow at first, very easy to be drank. But quite, cucumber and neutrality, not much going on. The other flavors accelerate and crash altogether, juniper and earthy angelica, hints of coriander. It fades, leaving a warm alcoholic burn taste in the back of your mouth and a bright hint of floral long after the initial taste.
When I first drove across Iowa, I found it a state that confirmed my expectations while simultaneously defying my expectations. My family never took long car trips. In fact, before I was 22, the furthest west I had ever been was Erie, PA. So let me just say that I had this impression that all I would see upon entering Iowa were field of corn and an unending flatness.
Well firstly, it was May, so the corn was naught but a gleam in a farmer’s eye. But also, who could have thought that moment where the horizon explodes and unravels itself before the unsuspecting driver, stretching itself further out than I suspected eyes could see ahead would have been so stunning. My first experience with the state of Iowa was unexpected- who would have thought I would have hung photos of the Iowa landscape in my apartment years later? But I digress, merely wanting to stop and note that I once found something wholly unexpected in Iowa, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised to find something so unexpected in a gin from the same state.
Let me begin by getting this out of the way. This is my favorite gin. Hands down. The Miller’s regular strength (80 proof) is a solid choice, somewhat more inexpensive ($31-35 for 1 L) and while it still has all of the outstanding features, they’re just a little less pronounced, and a bit more subtle.
Miller’s gin balances a crisp clean Juniper flavor with a hint of Citrus sweetness. These two flavors are in such perfect harmony, that Miller’s is the epitome of versatility in gin. Whereas some gins are decidedly Citrus (Bluecoat) and others are about the Juniper (Tanqueray), this gin walks the line and is a good choice for whatever you drink of choice is. Despite the strength of the Westbourne (90 proof) it is remarkably smooth, and very drinkable straight.
As for other London Dry Gins I’ve reviewed, this one strays the least from the classic flavor profile. Miller’s Gin contains some faint hints of other herbs and spices, but nothing like Tru2 or Gabriel Boudier’s.
This has to be one of the easiest reviews I could do. Hendrick’s has been one of my favorite gins since I was first introduced to the beverage. Its lighter on the Juniper, but it’s not completely absent. The high notes are cucumber and rose, and you’ll notice that savvy bartenders will garnish a Hendrick’s and tonic with a cucumber instead of a lime. The cucumber is a subtle taste, that blends in. It can be easily overpowered by either a strong tonic or lime juice. The rose stands out to me more. The floral notes are strong; however, not as strong as the saffron in the Saffron gin.
Because of the unusual blend of flavors and their mildness, this gin I think is best served as straight gin with tonic. I’d leave out the lime juice to fully appreciate the flavors in this bottle. But surprisingly, despite the unusual notes, Hendrick’s is surprisingly versatile. Not bad, though its best parts are obscured in a Tom Collins; the floral tones work beautiful with creme de violette in an aviation. As a martini Hendrick’s shines as well and it falls into the category of “gateway” gins, as the kind of gins that might appeal to a less enthusiastic gin connoisseur; however, unlike some of the sweeter more eccentric boutique gins, I think Hendrick’s offers enough of the things that gin drinkers like to be a worthwhile bottle to add to their collection
Price:~$25 for 750ml Best consumed: w/Tonic (sans lime) or Aviation Website: http://www.hendricksgin.com/ Availability: Fairly common, usually on the shelf of your corner liquor store, ubiquitous in any big liquor store.