Seagram’s Gin is the best selling gin in America; therefore it warrants a closer look. I know that immediately it embodies one American virtue: thrift. This may be the only gin I review that I can tell you with confidence, “yes, they do sell it at Walmart.” In fact, this gin could be the next entry in my “It came from the Bottom Shelf” series. But although widely available we’re interested if the taste lives up to the hype. Does it warrant being the best selling gin in America.
But first, an Experiment!
At a recent party I held a blind taste test for two of my friends. Both are gin drinkers who are familiar with gin and this blog. I offered them each two plastic party cups. One contained Seagram’s Dry; the other had Oxley. I asked them both “which one do you think was the more expensive gin?” Both chose Seagram’s.
So does that mean that Seagram’s is a better gin than Oxley?!
If I did not know already the cost of this gin, I likely would have thought based on scent alone that this was a rather good gin. It smells sweet, rather appetizing. It is a nice blend of citrus and juniper.
It tastes rather sweet. This is the first thing that I noticed, even though at similar proof to most gins (40%) it tastes much lighter and much easier to drink than most gins, but still retains a lot of classic gin flavor.
The sweetness alters the profile. Instead of orange, it tastes of burnt candied orange rinds. Instead of juniper, it tastes a bit like sweet juniper candy. Seagram’s does have a bit of a burn, but it is not a lingering or harsh burn. Its a short spike, pine trees dancing in your mouth, and just like that, they’re gone. Though these two flavor profiles come through to the forefront you can taste hints of the other classic botanicals which are in Seagram’s Extra Dry (the full list is: juniper, orange peel, cassia, angelica, cardamom and coriander). There’s a warm earthiness underneath the sweetness, but I found it hard to pick out which of these secondary botanicals were more prominent.
And for many people this really is their first mix with gin. Its accessible and inexpensive, and quintessentially American- so why not?
It makes a fine gin and tonic. I don’t think the sweetness adds much to the cocktail and the candy overtones are almost too much for me and may be for other gin aficionados. But it does fine in a Gimlet, Tom Collins, or really any other cocktail. It has enough flavor and pack that its rarely lost. This may be one of its strongest assets and key reasons why it is frequently a gin of choice in bars. It can stand up as “unmistakably gin” even when showered unceremonially with sour mix. You can put any number of “juices” on top of Seagram’s and you’ll likely know from the telltale sweetness that there’s some Seagram’s in there.
I’m not sure it works in a Martini because although “it works” as gin, it lacks the sophistication and depth to excel in this sort of cocktail. But this may just be a case of my personal preference. I like my martini gins to be a little more staid and little less sweet.
Price: <$10 / L
Origin: Indiana, United States
Best consumed: It can stand up to anything you throw at it.
Availability: Everywhere in the United States. Even Walmart.
Rating: Its actually a pretty acceptable gin that if not for its sweet notes, may be a very solid Dry gin. It works well in many different ways and retains strong gin and brand character. It is a better gin than its price point may indicate.