Naturally, when there’s 30+ gins to be tasted it cannot be done all at once. As much as we’d like to try, to do a proper tasting our livers and mental capacities just couldn’t take it. So in order to give every gin a proper tasting and a fair shot, we spread it out into 6 mini tastings over the course of a long day. So as promised, here’s a recap of what we tasted side by side and with what– and I’ll share with you my top two from each heat.
For full gin reviews of every gin covered in the 50 States of Gin tasting, you’ll have to stay tuned to the Gin is In this fall. If my first post was the 10 miles high overview, this is the one from 50,000 feet. The full reviews will be on the ground: up close and personal.
Heat #1 ///
The Participants: Dogfish Head Jin from Delaware [the nation’s first state, I’m sure you see where we’re going with this], Pennsylvania’s Bluecoat Gin, Southern Gin from Georgia, Gale Force Gin from Masscahussetts and finally, New Hampshire’s Karner Blue gin.
Overall a strong opening.
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Independence day is a day dear to the American gin drinker’s heart. Just as our forefathe’s declared their independence from England in 1776, gin distillers in the United States have proudly declared their GINDEPENDENCE (ha! get it?) from the UK in the last few years by truly making gin their very own.
The UK has abdicated its throne of gin, as the London Dry formula has been absorbed into America’s frontiers and Americans have innovated in now hundreds of new ways and truly created a kind of gin that is their own. Sure, the press has called it “New Western” or “New American,” but I prefer not to rely on these sort of geographical distinctions. I simply call this bold experimentation “contemporary,” and although at its heart it is quintessentially American and indeed “new” when considering gin’s illustrious heritage, I don’t think these should be the definition.
From the prairies [River Rose Gin], the mountains [Ridge Distillery’s Silvertip] and the Oceans- white with foam [Gale Force]! Cheers America! Happy Independence Day!
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David Wondrich @ EsquireMusings on CocktailsQuiet DrinkingDiffords Guide
Gin2 oz.1.5 oz.3 oz.1 shot
Dry Vermouth1 oz.3/4 oz.1/2 oz1 shot
Benedictine1/2 teaspoon1/2 - 3/4 oz.5 mL1 shot
Mineral Water3/4 shot
Orange Bitters2 dashes1-2 dashes (optional)
GarnishLemon PeelLemon TwistLemon TwistLemon Twist
InstructionsStir w/ ice, strain into chilled glassStir w/ ice, strain into chilled glassStir w/ ice, strain into chilled glassStir w/ ice, strain into chilled glass
This is one of those cocktails that is just all over the place, and you might be hard pressed to find a consensus on anything about. Its origins (along with many famous cocktails) can be traced in print back to the Waldorf-Astoria bar book. First you have the Difford’s Guide version- the easiest one ratio wise to keep in your mind, a little heavy on the Benedictine in my opinion and lacking the essential Orange Bitters. Personally I favor the Musings on Cocktails version (2:1:1) which gives enough Benedictine to balance what otherwise feels a bit too much like a Martini (the Esquire version).
The cocktail works best with a bold juniper forward gin. But I don’t think that you should shy away from experimenting with the contemporary style gins here.
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Gale Force is Triple Eight Distillery’s flagship gin. Although Triple Eight Distillery is a microdistillery in the United States, its founding predates many others in the distilling hotbed of New England. Founded in 1997 on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, it was the first microdistillery in the region. Though Triple Eight Distillery is probably best known in the region for its flagship self-titled vodka, Gale Force Gin is a worthy addition to their line that could make more waves (get it?!) with gin’s rising popularity. Bad puns aside, let’s get on to the gin.
Gale Force Gin is a throwback of sorts. In a world where most gins register at 80 proof, Gale Force clocks in at 44.4% (or 88.8 proof for those of you doing math) and therefore packs slightly more punch than some of its peers. This slight difference may not seem like much, but when mixing cocktails I assure you the difference between 90 proof and 80 proof can be like night and day.
The nose is a gentle juniper with hints of coriander and other spices. It smells clean but somewhat refreshing. The tasting is where you really begin to appreciate the full depth of this gin.
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