On the eve of the 50 States of Gin tasting, fellow writer David [of Summer Fruit Cup] and I made one final stop at the package depot to pick up the last few gins that had come in time for our tasting. We walked that mile home carrying a few gins we bought at the store, all of our Navy Strength and Barrel-Aged Gins that we had schlepped to Brooklyn, and a last few boxes. One of these last arrivals was Captive Spirits’ Big Gin.
Although none of us had tried Big Gin before the tasting, and although it was in one of the final heats [due to us tasting in order of the States’s admittance to the union, Washington joining the states in November of 1889] Big Gin managed to wow us and win a very competitive heat, despite our weary gin tested taste buds.
So how did it manage to win us over? Simply put, Big Gin was as one reviewed noted “big.”
Immediately, one noticed that the nose of Big Gin is strong and assertive. You can catch the sweet aroma of juniper as you pour the gin. The nose is sweet, a bit peppery. Lots of juniper, hints of citrus and peppercorn.
The taste is a bit silky, even thick for a gin. It slides over the tongue, warming the mouth with a powerful burst of juniper, starting from the back of the palette and working its way to the front. On the tip of the palette you can pick out a sweet note. Its a little bit floral, a little bit citrusy, but neither alone. A note that brings to mind fresh cut flowers, or a warm summer day, but it doesn’t linger long. Because overall, Big Gin is big on juniper. And I have to say, that’s really where it won me over. There’s a lot of great experimentation in gin. And while Captive Spirits’ Big Gin boasts of being the “Old World Style,” which some have said is designed to be tasted rather than obscured when mixed, I’d say a good number of the new gins out there are this. Subtlety is not common among American gin in general; however where Big Gin differs is that its emphasis is on a traditional, classic flavor of gin. I think this is it best asset and this is a gin designed to win over gin drinkers who’ve been sticking to the Beefeaters and Tanquerays of the world. This just might be the gin to get those drinkers to make some room on their shelf for a craft gin*
As pointed our earlier, Big Gin is designed to be assertive and tasted in cocktails. And to that effect, it works well.
Let’s start with the Martini for example. I think it works nicely: silky, smooth and aromatic. But your mileage will likely be based solely on how much your enjoy sipping a powerful gin. The same goes for any number of similar variations, Alaska Cocktail etc. You’re going to taste a lot of the gin here, and its going to crush the subtle notes. That being said, gin lovers who enjoy “very dry” martinis I think are going to love this gin. Look at the vermouth and get back to enjoying your chilled neat gin.
As for mixing it in more complex cocktails, I’ve found few gins that work as elegantly and boldly as this one. It adds just the right notes to an Aviation cocktail, and it does not get easily laid to rest in a Negroni [highly recommended by the way]. But perhaps the best of the bunch was the Gin and Tonic. It was exactly what you might expect, capable of standing out and standing up. It was sweet, the juniper note prominent, but the sweet floral bouquet at the beginning was emphasized. A little bit of lime in your gin and tonic, and that floral character becomes strongly and distinctly orange-like. Overall, I found it to work in pretty much everything that I’ve put in.
Origin: [flag code=”US” size=”16″ text=”no”] Washington, United States
Best consumed: Gin and Tonic will wow any fan of gin, but the extra dry martini, Negroni and Aviation are worth noting as well.
Availability: In Washington State restaurants, bars, and some liquor stores, check their website for specifics.
Rating: Lives up to its name beautifully. Its Big and warm, may not convert any ginphobic individuals, but this is a gin truly made for folks who love gin and want an assertive, juniper forward American craft gin.
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