Articles Tagged: International Gin Exchange

Gin Reviews

Nolet Reserve


Special thanks to David over at Summer Fruit Cup who obtained me this sample of this rather rare, expensive, and unique gin. Without him, I’m not sure my travels would have ever taken me across this gin.So thanks again David!

The Story This is the “private reserve,” not to be confused with Nolet’s Silver offering, a rather floral, bright, and somewhat expensive [~$50/750mL] contemporary style gin. This gin is slightly golden and is the result of a myriad of botanicals, each separately distilled or macerated [depending on the ingredient] and then mixed together by hand, and personally tested by Carolus Nolet Sr. to ensure it being of the highest quality. Among the disclosed botanicals are  Verbena and Saffron [likely the source of the golden hue].

I only had a small tasting. So of course in this one case, I’m not going to be able to talk about cocktails. But when you spend $700 on a gin, this is surely a gin designed to be tasted neat and not mixed. So please forgive the omission in this one instance.

Tasting Rose Petals, honeysuckle and bright pungent floral aromas on the nose. A hint of juniper in the background, a touch of alcohol [104 proof, so not unexpected].

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Gin Reviews

Knockeen Hills Elderflower Gin


Some gins you have a really abstract name and you don’t quite know what you’re getting into. Abstract concepts, animals, words, geography. All good names in and of themselves, but they tell you little to nothing about the spirit. A lot of times that’s where I come in.

Knockeen Hills’ Elderflower Gin. You don’t need a gin expert to tell you that there’s elderflower in this gin. It says right on the bottle. I will assure you. There’s truth in titles.

Tasting Notes: Nose: bright summer elderflower, surprisingly prominent juniper. And a bit of heat. Coming in at a respectable 47.3% ABV that note doesn’t seem out of place.

Palate: Licorice out of nowhere. It’s of the ilk of black jellybeans. I went back to check the nose. Not a whole lot not to indicate where this was coming from. Licorice notes fade, and you get a mid palate floral note without the usual sweetness of most elderflower spirits. Juniper, sharp stabbing in the middle. The finish is with a distinctive faintly citrusy spiciness [coriander likely] and a bit more licorice and flowers. The finish is enduring and a bit hot.

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Gin Reviews

Port of Dragons 100% Floral


Ahhh, Port of Dragons! We meet again!

The mere mention of your brand name makes me feel as if I should be sipping a G&T in Qarth. Or King’s Landing. Have I been reading too much Game of Thrones lately? Perhaps. But let me drop these cultural references and get down to the gin. Does it actually invoke the stark landscapes of Essos or the well traveled paths outside Winterfell? Or Maybe Spain, seeing as that the place it hails from is very real and very much on the cutting edge of innovative gins.

[No this is not a re-post. You are correct that a short while ago we reviewed 100% floral’s companion gin 100% Pure]

The Nose of the Dragon It smells a bit vegetal. Hints of cucumber, and even shrubs. An ambiguous “greenery” smell. Hints of rose emerge from the mix give it a slight “summery” character. I’m picking up a bit of juniper around the edges, but overall it has a contemporary character. But like the Pure, the nose isn’t quite doing it for me.

We get a bit more into the taste. It has a smooth character, with heat slowly building along with the taste.

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Gin Reviews

Sipsmith Smoked Gin

Introduction [to the tune of “Stars of Track and Field”] Occasionally when you’re a gin reviewer such as myself you have the distinct pleasure of getting to try things which are not available. And may never be available. My good friend David over at Summer Fruit Cup, as many of you who follow me on Twitter know is my “hook up” so to speak for U.K. Gins which we can’t get over here.

Last summer, Sipsmith Smoked Gin was part of a package he sent me. I enjoyed the taste, but never quite got around to reviewing it. Lately I’ve had a renewed interest in smoked gins, I thought this Saturday night, listening to Belle and Sebastian it might be a good time to take a look at what exactly a smoked Gin can be.

Nose/Taste [To the tune of “Me and the Major”] Striking to me immediately is how the nose does not seem incredibly smoky. There’s a faint hint of something woody, but mostly a bright floral bouquet, revealing a gentle subtle juniper note. Cooked lemon and a hint of cardamom on the close. While I haven’t properly reviewed a Sipsmith gin, I can say with virtual certainty that the base for this must be their London Dry Gin.

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Gin Reviews

Hoxton Gin


Hoxton Gin, if it were to be personified in a film, would be that kid who was born into a family of car salesman. Great grandfather sold Fords; Grandpa sold Fords; and his father sold his first Mustang a month before he could drive one. Undeterred by the specter of the family business hanging over his head and ten tons of expectations, the kid decides he wants to be a banker, an artist, a poet, or whatever. Its not the what that matters so much as the fact that he does something with his family name (still renowned for their cars) that’s as far from the auto lot as possible. Ladies and Gentleman, meet Mr. Hoxton. Hoxton gin that is.

Its reputation surely precedes it. I knew about this divisive spirit* long before I’d ever had a chance to taste it. There’s been many posts and impromptu twitter conversations that can be summed up in two words: “really? Conconut!?” To be fair, Hoxton doesn’t shy away from this. Their bottle warns you right from the outset. If you don’t like coconut and grapefruit, then you should stay away.

The Nose Bold and perfumed.

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Gin Reviews

Nils Oscar Tärnö Gin

nils oscar tarno gin

This is the first Swedish gin I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. And if all Swedish Gins are this interesting, it is a country whose gin culture I desperately need to spend more time getting acquainted with.

Jag Dricker Gin! Jag Kommer från New York City! [and that is the end of the Swedish I know. To all of my Swedish friends, please forgive me for this brief aside]

Experiencing Swedish Gin The nose has a floral and fruity hint, with just a hint of juniper.

The taste is a bit fruity, but with plenty of juniper. There’s a bit of citrus that hits you at first before making way for a earthy juniper punch. A bit of heat hits you, but quickly parts leaving the palette with a fresh juniper finish. Hints of a sweet fruitiness linger long after the sip. The fruity notes to me had a slight strawberry character.

The overall character was rather nicely balanced. While its profile seems to fit the contemporary style, it has one foot squarely in the classic camp. There’s a characteristic dryness and warmth to the juniper here that at times hints at London Dry, but it has enough unique fruity notes to differentiate itself.

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Gin Reviews

Edgerton Pink


Colors sometimes carry preconceived notions with them. With something brown, you might expect something to taste complex and harsh. But with Pink? I know that I expected Edgerton Original Pink Dry Gin to taste “easy,” “smooth,” and a bit “fruity.” Boy was I wrong. One out of Three isn’t bad, right? Not every guess can meet the Meat Loaf Standard.

Nose/Palette The first thing you notice when taking a sniff of Edgerton Pink Gin is that it smells of sweet fruit, largely owing to the Pomegranate added post-distillation. The scent lures you in. Sweet, appetizing. So you go in for a taste.

AND BAM. It Hits You. 

The Taste is harsh. A pop of tart sweetness immediately dissipates in a sharp burst of heat. The tartness is overwhelming. Lots of sourness, and not a lot of complexity. I can pick up some notes of juniper on the middle of my tongue. There’s a slight pause between the initial burst of heat and the lingering sour finish. I’m not sure the window in the middle is big enough to really reveal the depth and range of botanicals in here.

The heat largely owes to the proof.  

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Gin Reviews

Tesco Gin

Cheap Gin. I don’t have a problem with it. In fact, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by many bottom shelf options I’ve tried. New Amsterdam is a bargain. Rather inexpensive but a good gin on its own. Not just for the Price. So I have an open mind. I’m not biased against a gin which is cheap for cheap sake. “Supermarket gin” is not inherently bad in and of itself.

So of course when David at Summer Fruit Cup told me this gin had a Molasses base, I was pretty excited. Experimentation with bases (things other than neutral grain) are among my favorite trends in modern gin. So how did this molasses-base hold up in tasting?

Tasting The beginning is rather pleasant. A tingle of citrus and a prickle of juniper. This all gives way to an intense and sudden burst of heat. The sharp heat blurs the mid notes and gives away to a finish which is lingering, slightly burning, and leaves a bitter aftertaste in the mouth. Though the aftertaste has intimations of the juniper and citrus, its not altogether  too pleasant. There’s not enough subtlety to say if there is anything in the molasses base which adds or subtracts from the drink.

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Gin Reviews

Ish Gin


I like to downplay marketing as much as possible. I’m one of those people who like to believe that I buy absolutely nothing simply because I was marketed to. But there are sometimes that marketing is almost inseparable from the product. Sometimes this is a good thing: how can you have had Hendrick’s even once without noticing their expansive advertising campaign and overuse of the word Peculiar. Other times, and Ish’s case this can be a bad thing. The assaulting music that explodes through your speakers when you visit the website and the seemingly out-of-nowhere fetish oriented promotional shots (handcuffs anyone?) are almost off-putting to me. Clearly, I’m not their target demographic. Which is too bad- because behind all of the pomp and handcuffs. there’s actually a pretty decent gin inside.

Tasting Notes Lots of pine and juniper on the taste. Rather sharp, but not too harsh.  The Juniper gives way to a sharp orange note. Hints of a coriander on the nose and taste. The palate is remarkably traditional, and actually rather pleasant. The finish is bitter and a tad dry, with lingering hints that bring to mind comparisons to Myrtle Orange.

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Other Thoughts

Miller’s 10th Anniversary Gin

Special thanks to David at Summer Fruit Cup for sending me a small sample of Martin Miller’s very special limited edition gin.

Its hard to write a complete review of Martin Miller’s Anniversary Strength gin as there was only a small quantity. So instead of a formal complete review, I’ll give a brief summary of impressions and include some photographs, taken by friend David Pierro.

The Baseline: Miller’s gin

Martin Miller’s gin is among my favorites (See review from September 2010) already so clearly I was excited at the chance to taste his award winning special anniversary higher-proof gin that was put out to celebrate their 10th year of making gin. For those of you who need some catching up with the story and what I like about their main offerings, here is a quote from my previous review:

and the 10th Annniversary

The official 10th Anniversary was in August 2009, so I am a little bit late to the celebration right here.

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