Simplicity can be a great introduction to spirit tasting for novices. With only a few ingredients thought and care can be put into picking out each one. Simplicity can often time shift the conversation to quality. Some gins have 30+ botanicals, but how can you tell if they’re all good if at most you can pick out 10?
Novelty is what makes the recent gin explosion fun. Looking for a gin with Lavender? Dislike neutral bases and want to taste a gin made on the same thing as your bourbon? Prefer Nutmeg with your Cassia? This is the kind of adventure that brings you back again and again to gin.
But rarely do you find both in the same gin. Oliver Twist has only four botanicals: Coriander, Juniper, Angelica and Savory. Savory? Yep, there’s your novelty. Though a nice match for many of the flavors in gin, its a rather rare ingredient.
Its a bit deceptive when you consider that there’s only four botanicals in here. As I detect notes of sweetness on both the nose and palette that call to mind citrus. Hints or orange and a lemony freshness. There’s a nice burst of juniper and coriander but a fresh floral finish that accompanies the closing burst of heat. Its rather drinkable and pleasant. I could recommend without reservation drinking this straight.
The Cautionary Tale of Knowing the Botanical List
Of course this little sample came David. I had read his review before tasting- and in fact, re-read his reviews rather recently when doing my first tasting. Why? Well he had given me the samples all labeled as “mystery #1-4.” So in order to write the reviews, I first had to determine which gin was which sample. So I poured them all into glasses. Tasted them one by one. Compared them to his notes.
You’ll all be elated to know that I did indeed Identify all four of the mysteries successfully. But this one was the hardest one to determine authoritatively simply because I tasted something in here that wasn’t in the botanical list that he posted. In other words, something in those four botanicals created an affect completely different than what you might expect. I didn’t detect any strong notes of savory. In the end, this gin only revealed itself by process of elimination. I was dead-certain on the other three. Sure, it was as drinkable as it David said it was. It was smooth, and rather nice. But if I only had the botanical diagram, I might have never guessed it.
Nearly every gin lists the botanicals that are in it these days, but I still think that its hard to make any decisions based on a list alone, because the character, the quality, the nuance and the whole picture sometimes differs rather radically. That’s why I often don’t list the official botanical list first, and try to go on taste alone.
Origin: [flag code=”GB” size=”16″ text=”no”] United Kingdom
Best consumed: Works well in nearly any cocktail
Rating: Smooth and pleasant. A rather drinkable gin that does a lot of things well.
International Gin Exchange 2012 >>>
Thanks to David over at Summer Fruit Cup for helping make this tasting possible. Because the bottles are small sample bottles, this review is not as thorough as my normal gin reviews. There’s only enough for some tasting neat and no more than one normal-sized cocktail. Although I do my best to give as full of a review as possible, complete with ratings, the tasting is not as complete as I would normally want to do.
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