This 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.
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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