Some gins are the perfect examples of their style. Plymouth is the classic example of Plymouth style gin and Schlichte is the classic example of the Steinhäger style. If you’re curious about the style’s baseline, we covered that a short while ago. This review is just about Schlichte.
The first thing I noticed was the beautiful earthenware bottle. It stands out among the other glass bottles in any gin section where it appears. It seems distinctly “old world” and “throwback” just as itself.
I opened, and the first thing I noticed was nearly nothing. No powerful aromas, just a subtle hint of gin. Its just as cool and throwback as the bottle itself. So far Schlichte has given away precious little of itself. I know that its triple distilled based on neutral wheat spirit and juniper berries, with a recipe dating back to the 15th century. But what else? On to tasting: will you reveal your secrets?
Sipping it neat reveals a distinctly different and unique among gin quality. Its remarkably smooth and simple. You taste the juniper and that’s about it. Technically that’s exactly what it should taste like too. But the juniper quality is rather peculiar. Its less like a strong juniper forward gin such as Junipero, and the only modern gin which I can say that Schlichte reminded me of was Death’s Door. It has a peculiar “flat” sort of taste. It has a smooth taste and is extremely capable of being sipped. That is capable alone, I’m not sure that there’s enough complexity to really warrant regular sipping on the rocks.
You may be wondering how it compares to London Dry, which also is extremely juniper forward. I’ll sum it up succinctly. While a lot of juniper forward London Dry gin has a certain kind of ferocious burn, an acute prickle which is characteristic of the style; Schlichte offers none of this. Its a smooth, slightly bitter with a palate cleaning character, simple one note gin. It doesn’t quite prickle or burn, its has a creamy character to it.
Though It has a rather relaxed character in general, the distinct bitter flavor comes through and alters (in some cases in quite a good way) the flavor of some classic cocktails.
For example, take Schlichte in the Negroni. The Negroni (as I say regularly) has some strong flavorful ingredients. Schlichte alters the profile for the more bitter. It’s a very smooth drink with Schlitche in place of a London Dry. It also causes the profile to be Deceptively strong.
In a Gimlet, the bitter character takes the edge off of a super sweet cordial like Rose’s lime juice. The smoothness comes in at the right place at the end of the tasting, and takes a bit of the edge off the sour as well.
With tonic (because really, if you’re drinking at home this is likely your primary mode of gin consumption) its interesting. Mix it with a sweet tonic like Canada Dry or Fever Tree, and you almost get a hint of that bitter finish that Q Tonic is renowned for delivering.
Overall, it mixes surprisingly well. Surprisingly well if you like the taste. If you’re more into the heat of London Dry or the exotic botanical combinations of a lot of modern gin distilling, you may think Schlichte ruins a lot of cocktail. I don’t find a lot of middle ground with this gin. It either works for you, or it doesn’t.
Gin has come a long way from the fifteenth century, and while I embrace that wholeheartedly, I find it extremely interesting to taste the roots of all of modern gin craft alive and well on the top shelf of my local liquor store.
Price: $30 / 750 mL
Best consumed: The Gimlet I think is one of the cocktails that this gin did best.
Availability: Primarily online, you may see it in your local high end liquor store or corner store in a German/Eastern European ethnic neighborhood.
Rating: Although simple, it has a lot of appeal for gin aficionados but likely not much further.