A bargain brand from a name that probably calls to mind vodka before it does gin. In fact, the Pinnacle Brand holds over forty flavored vodkas ranging from citrus to whipped cream. In the tradition of flavoring neutral grain spirit (which for the vodkas comes from a distillery in France), you might not be surprised they take their hand at a gin; however, it’s worth noting that the bottle says it is “distilled in England,” “distilled four times,” and bears the name “London Dry Gin.” So it is in fact something better than the brand itself might otherwise suggest. The botanicals are added via distilliation, and then the final product is cut with water from Wales. Beam Suntory bought the brand from the Maine based White Rock Distilleries a couple years ago, and although inexpensive, I find it a bit of a harder-to-find gin for a national brand.
All Gins from France
Monson’s Dry Gin in <100 Words
Bottled in France, very little seems to have been written about Monson’s Dry Gin out there. Not much about the brand has been written, though it was bottled by a company with a long history. The bottle itself reads as a bit inexpensive, which the price supports. So really a bargain brand, we can right off the bat assume that this is a gin best designed for mixing.
Lemon zest, a hint of citrus hard candy, with juniper and spice notes around the edges. It generally has a classic aroma, with a slight citrus bent.
The palate begins with a hefty dose of cooked coriander, which is the backbone for the entire taste.
We already talked about the history of the Gin 1495 in our previous entry on the Verbatim recreation of the gin. But now we’re going to try their modern interpretation, the one they designed to appeal to modern sensibilities, including a few more modern botanical additions.
Much quieter when compared side-by-side. Minty, menthol notes present, with ginger, nutmeg, grains of paradise and a slight, but present citrus lift with lemon and orange notes.
Bright green juniper present on the palate, with ginger and cinnamon jumping out, hints of cardamom as well, but they are much more restrained. An almost waxy juniper finish, with clove oil coming out again, fading gently with a sharp, warm ginger note.
Loud and contemporary, and clearly related to the first one. You can taste the similarities, but this is the superior gin [not the superior experiment! I’m only talking about the actual thing I’m drinking here]. There might be ⅓ the amount of ginger in here when compared to the first one, but that’s a good thing. It gives a rounder, more balanced approach. It shows you just what this gin could be.
In short, I’m not sure I would go out and buy this gin if it were on the shelf.
Cocktail Historians [yes that’s a thing, apparently] have long been seeking out the origins of the drink we call “gin.”
The criteria for something to be a proto-gin are vague, though it is generally thought to be some combination of the below:
Distilled is important because gin is a spirit, and it represents a departure from the decoctions and juniper berry flavored beers and wines that were fairly common from the medieval era forward.
Grain based was important because it sought to represent a shift from the brandies, distilled wines, Steinhagers, Schnapps, and other spirits of the time which used juniper in other ways.
And finally, recreational was important because distilled juniper berry waters were once quite common, and although prone to abuse they were designed to be drank as medicine. Yes. people used their medicine for recreation, but the step towards gin was the intentionality of distilled a spirit strictly for enjoyment, with no pretense.
The 1495 Story in < 100 Words
Buried in the Sloane Manuscripts, Phillip Duff discovered the recipe calling for a mixture of several exotic spices and the word gorsbeyn, which depending on your translation could mean “frog” or it could be a corruption of the word for “juniper.” Assuming this is a correct reading of the word on the page, there’s no mistaking based on context that this wasn’t a medicine.
Hello friends, the Gin Wife here to talk to you today about a gin I happen to like very much! (Musical Flourish)
May I introduce Pink Pepper Gin, from Audemus Spirits out of France? Audemus states that there are Spanish pink peppercorns, juniper, and a variety of other spices in their gin. They suggest it served straight, or in cocktails.
First off – I love pepper. I put it on everything – salads, strawberries, meats, vegetables, etc. If it’s a food, I’ve probably tried to put pepper on it before. We own at least three or four pepper grinders, I sniff at pre-packaged peppers, and I’m aware that there are black, red, pink, and other varieties of peppercorns out there. I would get a tattoo dedicated to that wonderful, biting flavor if I could. So I felt like I was predisposed to enjoy this gin.
The first sip of gin had strong, but delicate, notes of peppercorn. (N.B.- pink peppercorns are not actually, well, peppercorns, but dried berries that resemble peppercorns in taste and appearance.) Juniper dawdled behind the peppery note, and it finished overall with some light hints of citrus.
Citadelle Gin is something of the “Elder Statesman” of the new style of gins. It’s been around long enough to have “always been there” to many, but that is to lose sight that at one point Citadelle was the bold, surprising, innovative new gin on the shelf. Their story is complex, but we’re going to try to make it as succinct as possible.
In our own < 100 Words
Citadelle is half revival, half new innovation: the revival is based on one the first gin produced in France at the “Citadelle.” The innovation is in the where and the how. Maison Ferrand Distillery and the SW corner of France is best known for its Cognac. But perhaps the boldest part was the revelation that during the offseason when they legally couldn’t distill Cognac, they could distill gin. The government finally relented in ’95, and so began the magic of open flames [don’t try this at home] and pot stills: Citadelle 2.0 was thusly born.
On the nose, hints of violet, sweet orange, coriander and floral brightness. Leans slightly citrus, but there’s another side here as well, with hints of a spicy/floral deeper notes: nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom.
We’ll G’vine, we meet again. again.
Long time readers of the Gin is In will know that this was the first gin I officially awarded five stars too.
A lot of what I wrote about Floraison is equally true about Nouaison, so let’s get on to the actual tasting notes, shall we?
The Scent The smell is a more muted variation on Floraison. A subtle floral bouquet, but no intimations of its strength (44% vs Floraison’s 40%) nor of its more juniper-like stature.
On the Tongue There’s some warm citrus notes a powerful note of cassia. The floral notes are there but very quickly give way to juniper and a burst of London Dry style heat. But don’t be fooled. it’s not as intense as other classic gins. Its a muted, slightly floral take on it. In other words, I think its the ideal balance between the strong floral notes of Floraison and the juniper notes of a classic gin. If you’re a gin buff who didn’t really dig Floraison, Nouaison meets you half way.
The finish is a little bit of ginger, a little bit of cinnamon and a little bit citrus.
I would never turn down a chance to revisit some of my oldest gin commentaries. I think my knowledge of gin and my gin experiences have expanded greatly since that time back in winter 2009 when I decided that “since I had five gins in the apartment, why don’t I start reviewing them?!” Both varieties of G’vine’s gin were among those initial five. Although my initial review of Floraison was posted in August 2010, it was one of the gins that inspired me to take on this journey. Now, while well known, and having been reviewed by so many others, I’m to re-write my initial review and wonder “what can I add to the discussion of this wonderful floral gin?”
The Floral Nose The first thing one notices when they open G’vine is the intense sweet aroma which almost jumps from the bottle. Its immediately sweet smelling. No alcohol scent and no juniper sent present. The nose is very one note, but a memorable and enticing one at that.
A lot of this floral sensation comes from the unique base. Instead of using neutral spirits, G’vine uses a wine grape base.
I’ve reviewed Nouaison by G’vine previously, but my first G’vine gin love was Floraison.
There is no more fragrant gin on the market. When you open the bottle of gin or take a sip of a drink with Floraison in it, the floral and fruity aroma hits you in the face. No, I’m serious. Its unmistakable- the blend of scents that reminds strongly of grapes (which is not coincidental, as the base is made from distilled grapes) and the taste hints of sweet baking spices and spring flowers, that linger. Floraison has a long refreshing finish that is unique among gins that I’ve had.
It is hardly traditional. The Juniper is hidden, almost not there. If you carefully savor it you can detect a slight hint of it in the background. This is one of those gins that I’ve served non-gin drinking friends- and they loved it. Its interesting like an exotic flavored vodka and complex like a port or whiskey.
It is great in a gin and tonic. Stay clear of the lime though, this gin does not need nor demand citrus accompaniment. Also, use a better tonic water as the sweet taste of more inexpensive waters drowns out the subtle complexities.
I mentioned at a party over the weekend that I had bought Saffron infused gin, and the reaction was an assortment of “really?!”, “I don’t think that goes together,” and “I’m skeptical but I’ll try it anyway.”
I’m on board with all three reactions to an extent.
First up is the color. It looks something like a children’s drink resembling Pedialyte or those orange hugs. I had the same sort of cognitive dissonance when drinking the Tru gin. If my Gin and Tonic isn’t crystal clear, it doesn’t feel like a gin and tonic.
As for the taste it goes surprisingly well in a gin and tonic, but prepare not to fully experience the saffron. In a gin and tonic, the saffron and fennel come through, but in a balanced manner. There’s a strange sweet taste- not bad, just strange, almost as if there was already simple syrup in the gin. Despite the sweet undertone, this gin does not go well in a Tom Collins, Martini nor in any other drink that has a strong sweet or sour component. The flavors seem to clash with one another. Dare I say, I found the perfect gin for a Churchhill Martini, or even to be sipped on the rocks.