We’ve talked about Few’s quite excellent Aged Gin on this blog before, so I’m not sure how many surprises I have in store for you in this review.
In my previous review I threw around the word “Genever” a little bit, referring to the fact that unlike most gins which use a neutral-character base akin to vodka (in many cases, actually vodka). Few uses a base closer to a “white dog,” or white whiskey. This means that although it can be considered “neutral” in some sense of the word, it carries with it a distinct warming, toasty, almost grain-like flavor to the cocktail.
We’ve commented on this a great deal in the past. Other gins, such as Ingenium Gin, St George’s Dry Rye Gin and Smooth Ambler’s Greenbrier Gin have come at gin from this similar angle. The Beverage testing institute has described gins like this as “Genever-like Gin” in their recent evaluations of gins similar to Few. I’m not sure if that is the right name for it, but I believe that it properly conveys what is going on here.
Few American Gin is not a Genever. But it is not a normal gin. In fact, I sometimes think that Few and the other few gins mentioned above should be considered their own category. If you like gins with the malty, warm, whiskey like base, you’re going to like Few America Gin. If you like Beefeater, but dislike whiskey- perhaps Few American Gin is not for you.
So I’ve been throwing around the word ‘Dutch traditional’ to refer to the fact that gins such as Few American Gin pay homage to Genever without quite stepping squarely into the Genever camp. In doing so they pay homage to gin’s dutch origins and gins’ heritage. So although I wouldn’t say I’ve figured out exactly what the name is, I’m virtually certain that going forward distillers and reviewers will come to call this sort of gin by a different name.
Okay, now that we’ve got this out of the way, how does it taste?
The nose is perhaps as malty as you might expect. That warm woodsy nose is surely present and a bit of a giveaway as to the base. The nose doesn’t reveal much more of the gin. No hints of coriander nor juniper. No wafts of citrus.
When you do get down to taking a sip, you do begin to appreciate that there is much more going on here than just a novel base. You can pick up notes of lemon meringue pie, with burnt tips—
But hold on a second here….
I know I’ve railed against these sort of odd tasting notes in the past. I’ve spoken with other folks and I have actually found that when people read reviews, they do like to know what it tastes like, and that sometimes a well chosen tasting-note-characterization is helpful. You may have noticed that I’ve put a few of these into my reviews lately, and I will continue to do so as long as people tell me they find it helpful. Okay, back to your regularly schedule review.
— Basically, what I’m saying is that you get a little bit of citrus, but with it a warm spicy quality. A little bit toasty, a little bit burnt. I’d say there’s a hint of cinnamon with the lemon in here and a long mellow finish. Lots of juniper and even some vanilla.
One interesting note that you can pick out in the midst of the burn and malty character is a touch of bitterness, which I had initially thought reminded me of the sensation that strong IPA brings to your mouth after a sip. Considering that Hops are among the botanical list, this might not be so far off base.
Making up Cocktails with Few American Gin
Sometimes I worry that this might be the impetus for creating or dubbing this a new style. Simply enough, the list of cocktails that they work in (and don’t work in) are roughly similar. I’m not crazy about the grain base works in a Tom Collins. If it were a little bit more pronounced, it might come out like a whiskey sour. I think its somewhere in the middle and not quite all the way there yet. I think that a gimlet might be an acquired taste. It just doesn’t roll like a regular gin would in this case.
But it’s not all bad news. The Negronis are stunning. Mix it up in a Last Word, a Corpse Reviver, a Rolls Royce or an Arsenic and Old Lace? You have a solid sipping cocktail. And not just any, the base adds a unique note that will make you want to re-try old favorites to see how the different notes make for a completely different drink.
Few American Gin is smooth, a bit hot, but still quite drinkable. I think with a good vermouth pairing, its a rather remarkable martini. And its hard to go wrong in a gin and tonic, and Few does not disappoint. Pair it with a bitter tonic like Q, add a bit of lime, and you have a cool and refreshing Gin and Tonic, albeit one which is quite different than your usual.
And a Comparison to our ‘Dutch Traditional Gins’
I plan on going a bit more in depth in a future post on this category of gins, but I’ll say as a note of comparison. Its a little less junipery than St George’s. It has a little but more citrus than Ingenium. I’d say it actually comes pretty close to Smooth Ambler’s formula. Nice bit of spice, well rounded, but definitely for those gin drinkers who enjoy whiskey.
Price: $45/ 750 mL
Origin: [flag code=”US” size=”16″ text=”no”] Illinois, United States
Best consumed: Martinis and Negronis, but not exclusively.
Availability: Illinois, Tennessee… (list on their website)
Rating: Rich in flavor and with sufficient depth to warrant sipping on its or mixing in cocktails where it is the star, it will probably appeal to gin drinkers who are already converted to the “Genever-like” style of gin. But then again, I think that if you know a whiskey drinker who doesn’t like drink, this might be right up their alley.
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