Old Raj (55%)

old-raj-gin-cadenheadThis review is only for the 55% ABV version of Old Raj.I have not had the 46% version. Though the 55% shares much in common with its lower ABV sister, they are different products. This one is the blue one, the other one is red. Now that we’ve cleared that up….

Old Raj begins with a classic set of botanicals among which are juniper, citrus, coriander, cassia, and other classics. But what really sets it apart is is slight golden tint, which is a result of the post-distillation addition of saffron.

Out of Balance saffron gin
In some Saffron gins, I’ve felt that the balance in favor of the Saffron was too one-sided

This isn’t the first saffron-infused gin that we’ve reviewed. Most notably, Gabriel Boudier’s with its vivid tangerine hue (sure to stand out in any bar). I was critical of saffron gin previously as I felt that the prominent stage that was given to the saffron- a definitively non-traditional gin flavor- made it a difficult sell in most gin cocktails. This is where I think Old Raj excels: it puts the balance back into the gin and makes a gin which excels in mixing as a normal gin, but one that has enough saffron to make a difference.

Tasting Old Raj 55%

First thing I noticed is that it tasted perceptibly stronger. At 110 proof it is truly a mixer’s gin, capable of retaining strength in nearly any cocktail. It has a nice warmth to it, with the orange surprisingly dominant. The juniper stands out in the gin’s scent and holds up well upon tasting. The saffron is sweet, earthy and subtle. I think it’s a good compliment to the orris root and almond. In other words, its a background player, that doesn’t do more than it needs to. Straight, in a strong martini, or paired with a more bitter tonic such as Q, the saffron is there and part of what is a very nice blend of traditional gin ingredients. Sadly, mix it with anything more poignant and the saffron is gone. This is not to say that Old Raj doesn’t hold up as a fine gin in these cocktails (it most definitely does), but the point of difference isn’t necessarily there when compared to other top-notch, high-proof gins such as Plymouth.

Overall, I really enjoyed Old Raj 55%. For some the muted-Saffron may not be enough to justify the price; however, I would encourage those to give it a fair shot. I think it does the Saffron exceptionally well without compromising what a gin should be. I think the only question I have from here, is just how does the 55% compare to the 46%. I guess for now I leave that to my respected gin-drinking colleagues.

Best consumed: Martini or G&T for a bit more saffron, but this gin works well in nearly everything.

Rating: Really a top-notch gin that I thoroughly enjoyed. I was on the fence between a 4.5 and a 5. It’s close to being among the best, but for now it will have to settle for very elite company.

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Readers' Reviews

Last updated September 27th, 2011 by Aaron

5 thoughts on “Old Raj (55%)

  • September 29, 2011by David T Smith

    Nice Graphics, this did really well in our Scottish Gin tasting. I’ve not said yet but I really like the site’s new look. Nice one.

  • September 29, 2011by AaronPost author

    Thanks a lot, I really appreciate your kind words. Impressive amount of very good gin coming out of Scotland these days it seems.

  • August 8, 2012by FoodiePilgrim

    I really, really like the Old Raj 55% for a sipping gin. In my opinion, it loses too much when chilled. I sip it in a snifter with a little water, more or less depending on how I feel. This is a gin that invites contemplation and relaxation. I have Old Raj 55% in a decanter on my bar.
    My first try of Old Raj was at a fancy restaurant north of Point Reyes, CA. I wanted to taste it carefully, so I asked for the same amount as in a Martini, but served neat. The bartender got all flustered and wouldn’t do it. Finally our server made it work, and then they didn’t charge me for it!
    When I tried it, I had it neat at room temperature, then I added some icewater and it flattened out a bit, then I added ice and it lost much of its aromatic glory. Now I only drink it at room temperature.

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