One of the great parts of trying to review a gin from every state is that there is a little bit of the unexpected at work here. It didn’t take long to realize that distillers everywhere are getting creative in places where you might not have expected it at first glance. From the small city of Atchinson, 11,000 strong, a place best known for its ghost stories and haunted homes, High Plains Distilled Spirits opened and became the first distillery in Kansas since prohibition.
Though High Plains Distilled Spirits are probably best known for their award winning Most Wanted Vodka, which aims to provide a high quality vodka at an affordable price. Most Wanted Gin enters this space relatively unchallenged by other American distillers. While most microdistilled gins enter the space at around $30 for a 750, another writer said he was able to get 1.75 L for $20. Most places I see online list it as about $15 for 750 mL which is among the best deals around. So the price is good, but how does the taste stack up?
The nose of Most Wanted Gin is a little bit of juniper combined with a distinct alcohol scent. I’d say this is more common among brands which come in at lower price points. So this alone is not reason to judge.
I found the taste to be smoother than the nose might have otherwise indicated. Though there’s a juniper branch on the cover, I find that the flavor is overwhelmingly citrus. Lots of lemon, a bit or orange. There is a note of fresh juniper in there, and the tail finishes in a lingering way with a little bit of alcohol burn in your throat. Still remarkably smooth though, and quite drinkable.
There’s not a lot of your earthy or warm notes that you often find in gins. While I found that I think it could have been more nicely balanced with a bit more of this, I think as it is, it actually quite reminds me of New Amsterdam, which also competes in this price space. A little more mellow, a bit more accessible. While it is still gin with juniper involved, it is not overwhelmingly gin-like in character. Additionally, although it is quite smooth and drinkable, it is best off mixed I feel.
As I said, this gin is made to be mixed and in terms of bang for your buck, you do get a good deal here. It works quite well in most drinks. While it doesn’t add a lot in terms of complexity, it adds exactly what you would want from a gin. A little bit of juniper, a bit of citrus, and a bit of alcohol to go with that. In terms of how it tastes in cocktails, I found that it actually echoed a bit of Plymouth. You get a bit more citrus, a hint of juniper, and a smooth very drinkable character. It doesn’t add a lot of heat to the mix, which again is good if you’re sipping in the backyard or at a party.
I also made up a martini with Most Wanted Gin, and I found it to be an alright drink. The vermouth works nicely with the citrus, you get a bit of that lemon seltzer and gentle juniper character. But overall, although smooth enough to be drank, I normally like a bit more flavor in my martini gins. That being said, it works in the martini, as it does in many cocktails. It’s not there to overwhelm, its there to do a job, a job which many gins have shied away from.
If you’re going to throw a party for your friends, you’re probably not buying a 750mL of an expensive microdistilled gin. You’re much more likely to go out and buy a handle of a gin that gets the job done. Most Wanted surely does that, and I think its a shame that there’s fewer gins vying for attention in this space. This is where tastes are made. I mean I think the reason most people in college learn to be vodka drinkers is because the <$20 price point is rife with good options, many of which are smooth and mix well at parties where you don’t have a mixologist on hand to “make things work.” Sadly, the gin space at this price point isn’t as rich. There’s several options which fall into “pine needles on fire,” “juniper and gasoline,” or any other of the myriad reasons you’ve heard over the years to explain why someone says they “don’t like gin.”
I believe that if there were more gins made with more quality and care in this price range, I think gin would have more fans among adults. And folks like me who were lucky enough to fall in love with the spirit at a young age, wouldn’t feel as if we’re on some sort of mission to convert folks back to our cause.
If you were to say, “Aaron, I’m a serious gin drinker and I’m looking for something new that will wow and excite me, what should I buy?” I’d probably recommend something else.
But if you were to say (and let’s be honest, this is the most common question I get), “Aaron, I want to get a good gin for a ‘get-together’ I’m having, but I don’t want to spend a lot of money. What should I buy?”* I’d previously recommended New Amsterdam Gin most strongly at this price point, but if you’re fortunate enough to be in a state where Most Wanted Gin is available? I would not hesitate to suggest you pick up a handle of this. At $15, there’s few better deals out there**.
And what about Gin and Tonic?
It made quite a nice Gin and Tonic. The citrus might not be necessary because the strong citrus notes of Most Wanted Gin still shine through, but in my opinion I found the lime to be a nice souring counterpoint. After all, Most Wanted Gin is more sweet than it is any other flavor. Q Tonic was a great choice here because it had the bitterness to give some more depth to the gin.
Price: $15/ 750 mL
Origin: [flag code=”US” size=”16″ text=”no”] Kansas, United States
Best consumed: Mixed in cocktails at a party, BBQ, or ‘get-together’ of friends.
Availability: Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Texas, South Dakota, and California
Rating: Gin snobs might want to look the other way, but this is a good gin at an affordable price point. If you’ve been sad that there’s not a local craft gin at an affordable price point (and you live in the states mentioned above) your prayers have been answered.
*I see the Google analytics, I know a good lot of you are searching for “Best cheap gin.”
** Though I normally dislike aggregators like “Find the best” I have to say, in this instance the diagram on price on the right hand side is extremely telling in this case.
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