A. van Wees distillery de Ooievaar is best known for its Genevers, which is the last traditional Genever distillery in Amsterdam (well, so they say). In operation since the late 18th century, the distillery now has 18 different takes on the traditional Dutch spirits, and more than a few gins as well. Three Corner Dry Gin is something of a curiosity owing to its rather lean botanical bill. Simply lemon and juniper, its an apt exploration for students of gin looking to focus on learning the ways different botanicals taste in isolation, but more than that, despite its simplicity it’s a rather versatile gin with a rather distinctive flavor to boot.
With unflinching focus on juniper, New Deal’s 33 Portland Dry Gin uses copper trays for the berries in the distilling process. Furthermore, New Deal only uses Juniper Berries, heightening and tightening the focus botanically, while starting from a base spirit of locally grown Oregon wheat and finishing with the addition of local water.
The distillery is focused on the art of hand-crafted DIY spirits, with a bias towards local and organic in their ingredients.
Lovely, juniper and pine bough notes leap forward on the nose, but creamy hints of lemon and honey lie underneath, emerging among the low notes.
Junipers are long lived species. A single bush can live for hundreds of years in the wild. Most of the juniper grown in captivity is much younger than this, and with human development expanding further and further into the wilds there’s fewer of these long lived bushes than their once was, particularly in the UK where although the juniper’s demise might have been prematurely declared. One distillery in particular in Scotland, Crossbill Distillery has traded its reputation on locally sourced juniper, rather than the Italian and Balkan sources most distillers rely on because of its invariability and steady supply.
So Crossbill 200 is the distillery’s love letter to the 20 century old bush that grows just outside its distillery; lovingly distilled along with the rosehip that grows alongside the bush in its natural habitat.
The premium version of the classic Ginebra San Miguel (previously reviewed) launched in 2005 as an extension to the already century and a half old formula which is the most drank gin in the world. GSM Premium is made with “extra neutral alcohol,” distilled from molasses and features juniper and a bit more citrus. It’s meant to be an upscale offering, though price wise, although costing more than GSM, we’d still find the price to be in the range of inexpensive or bargain priced gins.
Candy citrus and orange in particular on the nose, with some alcohol laden, ethanol kissed hints of mint and herbaceous juniper, with further hints of lemon mint and pineapple sage. Though with a good deal of fruity/citrusy notes strongly at the fore, there is a core underneath which is readily recognizable as gin.
When I first picked this up last year, I naively, despite the name, didn’t realize this was the house brand at a Astor Place Wine and Spirits in New York City. Those of you who follow me on social media know that it’s one of my favorite liquor stores in the city and that I do often go there and I’ve extolled their virtues before. Little is shared about the details behind the gin. It’s 100% Grain neutral spirits [says the label], it’s distilled in England [says the label] in a copper still [says the website].
Designed to be of good quality at an affordable price, the appearance is simple enough, but how does it taste?
Gibson’s gin is among the most popular gins in a couple of places not necessarily known for their gin drinking. Readily available in Sweden and France, Gibson’s Gin is something of a rarity in its home range of the United Kingdom.
And of course, on shelves chock full of (now!) hundreds of gin, it can be hard for an inexpensive, and not particularly special looking gin to stand out. However, for all of the times I reach for an inexpensive gin and find that you can judge a book by its cover, I sometimes find a gin like Gibson’s, that is worth well more than what you’re paying for it.
From one of the oldest and biggest breweries in Iceland, Ísafold Gin has a relatively nondescript appearance. It’s hard not to immediately see it and think “bargain brand.” Situated on the bottom shelf and available in plastic containers 200 ml all the way up to a full liter, it’s the most inexpensive gin I saw while in Iceland. But despite this, this relatively understated gin with very little information available on it; there’s no story nor mythos. No hidden water sources nor endemic flora inside. It manages to surprise and be a solid dry gin that ticks all of the boxes for gin at a reasonable price point.
A highly volatile nose that comes on suddenly before quickly dissipating delivers with a pleasant accord of juniper, pine, lemon and orange. Quiet underneath, it’s a pleasant smelling classic style gin.
The palate adds some roundness to the nose, with coriander, and baking spice making way before the citrus comes in later.
As of 2016, Xoriguer Mahón Gin still qualifies for protection as a gin with a geographical indication under European Union Regulation No 110/2008. Famously, you might remember Plymouth Gin formerly qualified for this as well; however, under the terms of the 2008 regulation, trademark owners had to produce and publicly distribute a technical file which would disclose “what makes this spirit unique.” Plymouth, and Plymouth trademark owners Pernod Ricard, saw the value in the process rather than the GI, and decided to rather than disclose the details of what makes Plymouth so unique, they opted to forgo the Geographical Indication. On the other hand, the GI was so important to La Isla De Menroce, that they did indeed file a technical summary which describes the process in keen detail.
New Deal Gin No. 1 is a self declared “garden-style gin,” and the term itself might be a source of misunderstanding. Among the most common uses of the term I’ve previously seen has been as a catch-all for gins which are not really gins altogether. Art in the Age’s Sage spirit calls itself a “garden style gin” as it borrows from the gin tradition or botanical forward spirits, but does so without juniper.
The Prairie Brand is entirely organic, from start to finish, with every step of the process. The base spirit is distilled from dent corn, which is better known as the corn which is turned into chips, syrups, corn meals, in large part due to its high starch content. The grain is grown by a cooperative of farmers from across the state of Minnesota and makes its way into Prairie Handcrafted Gin via a partnership with the Phillips Distilling Company, who redistills the spirit with a classic gin botanical bill to create their signature gin
The nose isn’t too loud, with subtle hints of coriander and juniper, peppercorn and pine needles. Quite classic, but also quite restrained. Very nice, and classically inviting.