The discussion around it on the internet seems to be alike “gin snobs don’t like it because of its citrus-forward approach. I’d like to dispel that notion first and foremost. The citrus-forward perspective is NOT a reason unto itself. Here at The Gin is IN we’ve prided ourselves in reviewing contemporary style gins as spirits worthy of discussion on their own merits. We don’t penalize spirits for having a different take on gin. Lacking in juniper alone is not grounds for a bad review.
This is a re-write of an earlier review I did of New Amsterdam Gin. I feel like in reading some of my writing from the beginning of the blog I didn’t give the gins as thorough of a treatment as my later ones. Given the enduring popularity of this gin, I’ve been dying to give it a proper review and treatment. The original version of this was written in 2010. So for 2015, I’m going to give New Amsterdam a second chance. A clean slate as you will. I’m going to review this gin as if I had never reviewed it. Without further ado, let’s begin as we begin every other review here.
Story in <100 Words
Launched in 2007 New Amsterdam Gin was right at the fore of the Contemporary Gin explosion stateside. Combined with an aggressive marketing presence throughout the last decade. New Amsterdam or “New-Am” has won over quite a following. Priced at an affordable point and curated with a citrus-forward perspective, it (especially at the time) was unlike anything else available. Accessible and smooth, it has won people over and endures despite never being quite afforded the same esteem (by gin and cocktail experts at least) that enduring favorites like Bombay Sapphire, Beefeater Tanqueray, or Gordon’s have. Why is that?
The nose is immediately recognizable as citrus-forward. Light lemon, candied orange, herbaceous juniper hovers at the fringes, with even a slight note of angelica in the lower notes. It’s aroma is citrus-forward but not to the exclusion of other touches.
The palate is a citrus bomb however. Perky citrus, a smidge of lemon oil, candied orange rinds, orange slice candy, and an interesting lime/orange shift right in the mids. There’s a hint of ethanol during this mid-palate lull, which segues into a burst of citrus candy, lime/orange/lemon skittles primarily. The finish is short to moderate in length, with mostly citrus. The citrus dominates the palate, almost completely to the exclusion of any other notes.
The Gin and Tonic, which seems to be the most popular New Amsterdam Gin cocktail doesn’t hide the reasons why: clear and bright, it tastes like an orange led gin and tonic with a touch of lime towards the finish just out of the bottle. Perhaps a bit cloying, or to its critics, more like an orange flavored vodka, but it’s not hard to see how this could win people over.
I tried it in a Bees’ Knees. Although I liked the way the real citrus rounded out the gin’s flavor profile, warming up the citrus touch with some acidic and tart touches which lifted it, I found it overall to be lacking. I was looking for something more. The gin seemed to be a sleeping giant, relegated to the background. Anyway, honeyed citrus salad, fresh lemon, and a clean, crisp finish. Drinkable, but the gin isn’t doing much for it.
Next, I tried a Negroni. The short answer is dial it up to a 2 parts to 1 part Sweet and 1 part Campari minimum if you want to taste any of the gin. It was completely obscured, and didn’t add anything to the cocktail.
Going back to the Old Mr. Boston Bartender’s Guide, we found a cocktail to try New Amsterdam Gin out with. Interestingly, I’d imaging that a modern day Blue Devil Cocktail might use Blue Curacao instead of blue food coloring, we went with the original [and not that we needed another citrus note here, really]
Cherry and lemon [predictably] on the nose. The cocktail itself isn’t too bad. It’s really just an Aviation variation without any Creme de Violette [the blue food coloring getting it there]. The ratios aren’t as gin-forward as perhaps the cocktail might necessitate, with the gin getting absolutely pummeled [yes, even here!], and not able to rise above a background whisper. My concern with this drink is the same concern I have with New Amsterdam in other cocktails: that when paired with citrus the real fruit overwhelms the artificial. But really? That might sound like a good thing. Except that’s all this gin is bringing to the party. If you want that lemon and orange candy flavor, you want a drink you can taste it in. This isn’t it.
Though I don’t think this cocktail is completely irredeemable. It’s certainly middling, but the combination of cherry, lemon, and gin works well enough together to warrant a closer look. Maybe try another gin.
Concluding, New Amsterdam isn’t a below-average gin because of its citrus flavor. It’s a below average gin because the citrus notes in it don’t taste real or authentic. They taste like artificial citrus essences being added after distillation. Or alternatively, perhaps they are real, but New Amsterdam adds too much sugar post-distillation.
The gins that New Amsterdam most closely reminds me of are Asian gins such as Myanmar Dry Gin (). Moreso than citrus-forward distilled gins such as Larios 12 (), Bluecoat (), Pinckney Bend (), Black Button’s Citrus Forward Gin, Chase’s Orange Flavored Gin, etc. If you like citrus-forward gin, there’s a lot of gins which bring that flavor to the party, but do so through distillation alone and don’t add flavors/sweetening post-distillation.
I think my objection to New Amsterdam is that the citrus tastes artificial and fake. Citrus and gin go hand in hand. But fake citrus is not a flavor I particularly like in my cocktails or drinks.
So certainly, if you love this gin, by all means continue to enjoy it. But I’d like to encourage you to try any of these gins mentioned above or any future gins we may suggest which are citrus forward.
Thanks for reading and keep enjoying gin, whether you agree with me or not.
Price: $10 / 750 mL
Distiller: New Amsterdam Spirits
Origin: California, United States
Availability: Across the United States
Rating: Juniper is an afterthought, but that’s not really this gin’s primary issue. Fake citrus flavors abound. It’s accessible, but the fake citrus is what helps it read more as a citrus-flavored-vodka than a citrus-flavored-gin. It’s a inexpensive gin that will have fans of classic style gins crying “uncle.” Fans of contemporary gins may find something to like here, but seasoned gin drinkers will likely have already found a gin of this style that does it with a little more grace and without the cloying sweet notes. Hard to recommend, especially so in 2015. (1.5/5)