Price: $50 / 700 mL
Distiller: Herman Jansen
Availability: US, UK, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Germany, Turkey and France
Rating: Contemporary to the extreme, Bobby’s Gin is likely a love it or hate it proposition. A bit idiosyncratic mixed, it can dominate or throw off the balance of established cocktails. But where it does work, it puts a novel and completely unique spin on them. Fans of contemporary, spice forward gins will find a unique and historically interesting gin, while fans of classic gin might wonder if this is really a gin. That being said. I think there’s a lot here which warrants a closer look, at least for you to figure out which side of the line you fall on with this flora, spiced, unique gin. [Rating:3.5/5]
Proclaimed on the bottle as the “best of both worlds, east and west,” Bobby’s Gin is based on a recipe of Jacobus, better known as Bobby, Alfons. Eight botanicals are each distilled on their own before being blended together to create his namesake gin.
But Jacobus’s story is an interesting one. An immigrant, he was born in Indonesia. Raised on the vibrant spices which once drove the Dutch to the Indies during the 17th and 18th century spice trade, he fell in love with Genever and began playing around with infusions, pairing the spices of his youth with Dutch spirits, just as the Dutch did long ago. In fact, students of gin might not be so surprised to hear that of all the gins I’ve had, this one most closely resembles the 2014 recreation of a 1495 gin recipe (Review Verbatim 1495 ())
The nose is surprisingly floral at first, with rose notes coming to the fore, with lemon and lemongrass falling in line behind it, giving it an almost fresh oil aroma. It’s complex, surprising, but really unusual.
The palate is as distinctive as you’re apt to find in the gin world, with very little quite like it out there: the rosehips are sweet an pungent; the lemongrass is citrusy and herbal with menthol tones blending with anise/fennel character; the clove and spice is unmistakable. Nothing is subtle: even the juniper with its piney/green side is loud and clear on the finish. And that finish, may I just say is extraordinarily long lasting with peppery/menthol notes that evoke images of basil and tarragon as it fades. Incredibly smooth on its own, Bobby’s Gin has a lot that makes it stand out amongst other gins.
Fans of Genever though might be disappointed that with a pedigree such as Bobby’s Gin and the Schiedam name on the bottle that the spirit definitely borrows more from gin’s tradition than it does from Genever.
I fear this might be a love it or a hate it proposition though. If you’re fond of cloves…. or not fond for that matter, that one specific note is as prominent as it is divisive. Secondly, Bobby’s Gin, in its meeting of cultures, is so far from the beaten path of gin that it might be a tough sell to those accustomed to more traditional styles.
If you’re going to mix with this, I suggest looking towards spiced cocktails as well. Yes to Corpse Reviver #2‘s or Negroni‘s for example. I think it’s a hit or miss Martini that I’m not sure you can be ambivalent about. I’m less of a fan of it in the Gin and Tonic, as I feel the clove is a bit too strong for me; however, I’m going to be a bit forgiving on this point as I’ll openly admit clove and I aren’t really the cuddliest of acquaintances.
Overall, it’s bold, unique, and not only an interesting East meets West sort of experiment, it’s an interesting past meets present sort of thing. I really recommend trying to find it at a bar and trying a sip before buying a full bottle, BUT, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this gin spur a cult following of sorts. There’s really nothing else like it, and the overall quality warrants a closer look.
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