Aviation Gin

aviation-ginI’m not quite sure what I was expecting when I cracked open the bottle of Aviation gin. The bottle, the name, the styling: it all said “classic, London dry” to me. For those of you in the know already, it’s truly one of the new breed of American Dry. It is big and bold, but with the juniper in the background. It’s more of the bassist in this band. The citrus and the other flavors are in the front.

I opened the bottle, and was struck by how floral it was. It reminded me of G’vine Floraison; however, upon tasting it was a bit more subtle and balanced, calling to mind the balanced citrus and juniper harmonies in Bluecoat.

As for the botanicals, officially they are listed as:  juniper, cardamom, coriander, lavender, anise, sasparilla and orange peel. Unofficially, orange and juniper are easily detectable while cardamom and sasparilla are nearly undetectable (leave it to the experts, even knowing what I was looking for I wasn’t getting sasparilla). The lavender is present when sniffed; however, seems much more subtle in the drink itself. It is made from a 100% neutral rye base, and I can only hope that the fine distillers in Portland can continue unabated by the Nation’s rye shortage. The neutral base is exactly that: perfectly neutral (but very smooth) and allows the rest of the botanicals to stand out.

This is a diverse gin, and don’t let the strong bouquet fool you. It makes for a stunning Tom Collins, a refreshing gin and tonic, and yes- a classic Aviation. But one thing that raises Aviation gin to the next level is its smoothness and complexity. It is a gin that you can sip neat or on the rocks, and not be left wanting. Its a great gin in martinis all around, but if you’re one of those people who would rather look in the direction of France than drink vermouth (I think you’re sorely missing out on one of life’s finer pleasures by the way) this is one gin that will be able to carry the show for you.

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Suggestions: how's the aroma? How about the mouthfeel? What would you recommend having this gin in?


Readers' Reviews

by Simone

The reviews on Aviation Gin are varied and I think if you're a gin drinker you have to try it yourself. I usually drink gin with tonic but thought I would try something different now I'm a paid up member of the Australasian Gin Connoisseurs Club (GC's). I was surprised by the strong aroma and couldn't decide whether I liked that assault on my nostrils. I'm not certain which of the many 'notes' I inhaled that we're listed on the makers website. It smells earthy, not florally which to me is a good thing. It is a refined gin compared to 'supermarket' labels available.. I enjoyed my second glass more than my first. I think my taste buds are adjusting to this new type of gin and I'm starting to enjoy it. A good thing given the price is up there. Whether I become loyal to this label, I'm not sure. I think Prohibition Gin is still my favourite.

by Chuck Dresback

The best gin and tonics for the money are made with Aviation Gin. Hands down!

by Everi Mann

Without a doubt the best gin money can buy. While it is more expensive than most, it is worth every drop...and it's American to boot!

Last updated February 16th, 2011 by Aaron

24 thoughts on “Aviation Gin

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  • September 3, 2013by Jil

    I don’t see why anyone likes this gin. I poured mine down the drain. I made a martini with it and it was so vile, I didn’t even eat the olives. I thought maybe it was my taste-buds being off that night so I tried it again last night. Its polluting the Lackawanna river by now. I should have know better than to buy a domestic gin. I’ll stick with the English gins from now on.

  • September 3, 2013by AaronPost author

    Not all domestic gins are of this style. The big mistake with Aviation is thinking that it’s the same style as the gins you’re used to from the UK. Look for Halcyon Gin, Denver Dry Gin or Big Gin. All are domestic, made here in the states, but are much closer to the juniper forward style that most English gins are known for.

    Aviation is a bit different, intentionally so. But it’s hardly representative of all American distilling. I have heard even some distillers say similar things about Aviation and other contemporary gins as well. So please don’t lose faith in American gin!

    What state are you in? I could perhaps give you a more direct American recommendation based on what’s likely available where you are.

  • September 23, 2013by Jill

    Thanks for the education on domestic Gin. I’m from northeast Pennsylvania. I really was surprised by the Aviation. I loved the Art Deco style of their new bottle and was roped in. I will gladly take your recommendation on a domestic Gin that may be more like what I’m used to.
    Thanks again,


  • September 26, 2013by AaronPost author

    I did a little bit of research on what I could find available in PA. It seems that Brandon’s Gin [http://theginisin.com/gin-reviews/brandons-gin/] is available [http://www.finewineandgoodspirits.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/SpiritsProductDisplayView?level0=null&level1=S_Gin&level2=&level3=&level4=&catalogId=10051&storeId=10051&categoryId=null&productId=1514490&langId=-1&prodlistCatId=Spirits&parent_category_rn=Spirits]

    Brandon’s has a couple of novel ingredients, like Tarragon for example, but don’t be too fooled. It’s classic in style with a touch of variation that sets it apart. I think it’s quite excellent and worth trying if you can find it.

    This one is special order, but this gin is just juniper and neutral grain spirit. Crater Lake gin infuses the juniper in the spirit [http://theginisin.com/gin-reviews/crater-lake-gin/] so it’s more of a bathtub style. It’s the basis of the style you like, but executed in a really different manner. [http://www.finewineandgoodspirits.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/SpiritsCatalogSearchResultView?tabSel=3&sortBy=&sortDir=&storeId=10051&catalogId=259052&langId=-1&parent_category_rn=Spirits&newsearchlist=no&resetValue=4&searchType=Spirits&minSize=&maxSize=&promotions=&rating=&vintage=&specificType=&price=0&maxPrice=0&varitalCatIf=&region=&country=&varietal=&listSize=45&searchKey=&pageNum=1&totPages=1&level0=Spirits&level1=S_Gin&level2=&level3=&keyWordNew=false&VId=&TId=&CId=&RId=&PRc=&FPId=&TRId=&ProId=&isKeySearch=&SearchKeyWord=Name+or+Code]

    Also on PA special order, take a look at Catoctin Creek or Gale Force. Junipero is also quite nice. Though the couple that I mentioned above [Big, Halcyon] are the finest examples of the classic style in the US today, it’s a shame they’re not yet available in PA. But I hope that at least a couple of these gins above might help you decide what spirits might be worth giving domestic gin a second chance for!

    Cheers, and thanks for reading. I really do hope you find something else that you like!

  • September 26, 2013by AaronPost author

    My own blog, and those comment links break the layout.
    anyway, this is the site: http://www.finewineandgoodspirits.com/ I heard was a good reference for what there is in PA.

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  • December 30, 2013by Jim Felts

    I am a long time gin martini drinker, and I have to take exception to the inordinate praise heaped upon this acceptable gin by a few. It’s okay, but is way too floral for many tastes, and by the way, I do like decent vermouth in my martinis, but straight gin is okay if good. Wish I liked it better, but will stick to Bombay. If you want a sweet drink or plan to cover the taste with mixers, pretty much any gin will do, but I’m thinking classic gin martini drinkers will be less than impressed. Of course, taste is always personal.

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  • August 19, 2014by BPCross

    Bold? Seriously? If you make your own tonic – you’re hard-pressed to taste that there’s any gin at all in your drink. Another “B” comes to mind … bland. I’ve not tasted such a lackluster gin before.

  • August 20, 2014by AaronPost author

    Hmm, interesting. Was it a fresh bottle you cracked open? I have noticed that some of the bolder aromatics dissipate if kept for a long time [like a rarely used bottle].

    But, to each their own. I think it definitely has a perspective and flavor, but understand it might not be to everyone’s tastes.

    Keep enjoying gin, Cheers!

  • September 23, 2014by robchristopher

    Having just tried this gin for the first time this evening, I think your notes are right on the money. I mixed up a martini, the way I usually do, but this time the vermouth (Dolin) really leapt out at me! The Aviation had quite a magnifying effect. Next time I’ll opt for a drier ratio. And I’m really intrigued to see how it’ll work in a Vesper (my 2nd fave gin cocktail).

  • January 24, 2015by Robert

    This review has been very helpful and right on. G’vine Floraison is the only Gin I could drink. Somehow therewas a bottle of aviation on myself when I was organizing not sure how it got there I always give away any Gin that’s not G’vine. So I tried the Aviation and was pleasantly surprised.Shortly after I search for some info and I found this review. Having a similar experience and thoughts I decided to give this Gin a go. Variety being the spice of life I’m happy to have them both on my shelf.

  • June 18, 2015by Bob

    Sorry folks, but I just tried this based on the Wine Enthusiast high rating. It tastes terrible to me! It left an after taste like dishwater. I cannot drink it. Never again. However, I will also mention that my wife said she kind of liked it. So, it’s all hers. :>)

  • July 6, 2015by Graham Miles

    I like this for the bottle alone which in Canad looks like a giant hip flask. However, the Sasparilla novelty wore off pretty quickly and I won’t be going back.

  • August 5, 2015by Erin

    I never met a gin I didn’t like, but I really struggled with this one! My first encounter I thought it was the different brand of tonic water I was using, or old ice. But my return to it was marked with a kind of floral sweetness and aftertaste that I just can’t handle. I thought it was the sarsaparilla that was giving it a cream soda/root beer-y taste, but I wasn’t sure. Great bottle, not my flavor style at all though. Looking for a cocktail I can mix it into to serve to party guests…

  • November 16, 2015by AJ

    Personally, I love Aviation gin. By far the best gin I have ever had, but, OTOH, I’m not a huge gin enthusiast.
    I can see how those who are expecting a big blast of juniper will be let down, but I really like the balance, smoothness, and complexity.

  • November 16, 2015by Bob

    Worst money I ever spent on spirits. Now, I’m afraid to try “American Gin” again. Might try “Old Tom.” I like Citadel quite a bit.

  • November 17, 2015by Kudu40

    Me too. I WILL NOT ever buy an American gin again. I spent too much money on drain cleaner.

  • January 12, 2016by starr

    I finally had a chance to try this because my liquor store had it on “closeout” for only $24. So I suppose they won’t be carrying it anymore, which is sad, but it’s also out of my price range normally so I’m glad I got the chance to try it. On the first sip it became my favorite gin. I certainly enjoy juniper-forward gins, but to me gin isn’t defined by juniper, it’s about interesting flavors. And this is the most interesting of all. I was wondering if you picked up a caraway flavor? That is what hit me the most on smelling it and tasting it.

  • February 11, 2016by Torsten

    “leave it to the experts, even knowing what I was looking for I wasn’t getting sasparilla”.
    Yes, leave it to the experts! INDIAN sarsaparilla [which is what is in this gin] does not taste like sarsaparilla at all.

  • April 16, 2017by NS

    It’s definitely not a London Dry, and I grew up on Tanqueray, but you can play the flavors to make a very nice Martini – cries out for a twist, not olives! House Spirits recommends Dolin, a twist, and a dash of orange bitters. Lovely for a change of pace. I don’t think it’s suited for G&T. Try Portland’s Aria if you are strictly a classicist, clean, balanced, new “old school”.

  • July 3, 2017by Rachel Keridwen

    Is anyone getting a peety taste with this–almost like a scotch? I love gin. But I don’t love this. For a nice American, or Pennsylvanian gin, try Bluecoat.

  • August 23, 2017by Anonymous

    Diluted with some ice, and the main flavor I got was anise.

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