Articles Tagged: Origin

Gin Reviews

Chase Single Botanical Gin

juniper vodka

Q. When is a gin also a vodka?

Q. When is a vodka also a gin?

Chase Distillery probes at the “uncanny valley” of the cocktail world, that place where gin and vodka intersect, where their similarities put on display for all to see.

A. Gin, by law, is required merely to have juniper added to it. Yep, that’s all. While terminologies such as “London Dry,” “London Cut,” “Distilled” and others seek to more specifically indicate what a gin is and should be, the law is pretty clear on it. You can add juniper to vodka and you technically have a gin. And what happens when you add natural herbal flavorings to a vodka? You get a whole host of spirits that rang from Aquavit, to other so called botanical vodkas, to gin.

Tasting Notes

My advice is not to look too hard. You know the only botanical: it’s juniper. As we saw previously with the Origin series of gins from Master of Malt, the expression of juniper on its own can differ, and in some ways quite radically.

The nose is piney and bright, but with a certain delicateness that calls to mind other herbal aromas, with a touch of lemony sweetness.

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Top 10s

Biggest New Gin Launches of 2012

Considering the sheer mass and quality of gins that came out in 2011, 2012 has a nearly impossible standard to live up to. That being said, though I think there were fewer super-high-profile launches in 2012, there’s been several quite good ones. So to celebrate the end of the year that was in gin 2012, we’re taking a look back at some of the biggest, best, and more important launches of this past year.

# Distillery Name – —

1 Greenhook Ginsmiths American Dry Gin  Reviewed April 2nd  If you thought the New York distillery scene couldn’t support another gin, you would have been wrong. Though perhaps I’m biased because I live in New York, this was one of the higher profile names that came out this past year. Their cold temperature vacuum distilling and bright contemporary flavor set it apart and helped the gin earn its keep among the crowded craft gin shelves of New York city. 2  New Columbia Distillers  Green Hat Gin  [coming soon]  Another one of the fairly high profile launches this past year was the first distillery in Washington D.C. since prohibition. The gin blogosphere was buzzing weeks before the launch with the information that we’d soon be seeing this gin on shelves.

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Other Thoughts

Final Thoughts, Origin Series Batch 1

We’ve reviewed all eight of the gins from the initial batch of Origin gins from Master of Malt. It was a lot of fun to try this range of gins from four very different places and I hope that they will keep me in mind when they come out with future batches including Kosovo, Croatia and Macedonia*. And better yet, perhaps I can claim the 100 pound bounty if my mom’s juniper patch ever yields 10kg of juniper**.

But we’ve covered a lot of ground here. And the origin series is a little expensive. 35 pounds for a 700 mL bottle, and for my American readers, Master of Malt does ship to the states, but expect to pay upwards of $60 for a bottle of the Origin gins. So say you want to buy a couple of bottles, or just get acquainted with the series. Let’s do a recap of where we’ve been:

If you are just getting into gin… Make sure that you get the Bulgaria one. Easily I’d recommend this to anyone, because this gin is shocking that this flavor is possible to come just from cold distilled juniper berries alone.

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Gin Reviews

Origin: The Netherlands

Origin: The Netherlands

Where are we Today? We are in Meppel in the Netherlands. While we’ve mostly been in Southern Europe, the Netherlands probably represents are single biggest geographic change in the initial series of Origin gins. Meppel has been a city since 1644, and today has a population of just over 30,000. Of all of the places that gave their juniper to the initial series, this one has perhaps my favorite story of the place.

An old folk story of the region suggests that the people are called Meppeler Muggen, which translates to the “mosquitos/gnats from Meppel.” An old folk tale says that one day people of the city thought their church steeple was on fire. They rushed to its rescue….and then they realized it was just a bunch of mosquitos. Or gnats.

Okay, so the story is probably not true. But one thing is clear, Meppel is a very different place than the previous three entrants into the Origin series.

Tasting Notes

Assertive and juniper-like, but not too bracing. It starts slow and thin before quickly building. Wet and piney, with a little bit of fire, but quickly fading. It leaves a sensation of little sharp prickles on your tongue, fading flavor-wise faster but leaving a little bit of heat in the back of your throat.

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Gin Reviews

Origin: The Netherlands w/ Botanicals

Origin: The Netherlands

This review is the companion piece to the Origin Netherlands w/ Just Juniper ()

Tasting Notes

Citrusy and earthy, surprisingly different. The materials that came with this gin described it as a “Coffee-rich Finish” and I quote them because I’m not sure I can come up with a better way of describing the way that the flavor feels. Its a bit like black coffee. Rich and earth, dark and lingering, slightly bitter but never overpowering. Again, the citrus really stands out among the botanicals which seems about part on course of the Origin gins, but this one is more assertive and although I found the juniper mellower in the “juniper only” batch than the Arezzo, it is much more assertive in the final product than the Arezzo. Smooth and with a fair amount of heat once again, the flavors calling to mind an almost yeasty, bread-like flavor, with smokey woody notes, this is quite an interesting gin here. Gin purists will appreciate the juniper forward manifestation here, but those who are in search of something a bit more balanced might complain that the juniper is too “vegetative” or “dark” in here.

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Gin Reviews

Origin: Italy

italy origin series bottles

Where are we today? We’ve been to romantic countrysides and historical villages. For the next stop on the origin tour, we head to a commune of about 100,000 south of Florence.  Arezzo is located in a fertile floodplain on the Arno River, which is among the most important rivers in central Italy. Arezzo has a temperate Mediterranean climate, and for those of you taking notes for trivia nights at your local bar, the University of Oklahoma actually has a branch in Arezzo. According to my notes, this Origin gin is the closest the state of Oklahoma has come to having a gin thus far.

Just the Juniper: This is what I expected all of the origin juniper-only gins to taste like. Bright, piney, sharp but light. The gin has an almost watery character. Quickly dissipating leaving a long bright juniper after taste in the back of the throat. Significant heat and alcohol lingering, but the juniper sticks around a long time after the initial sip. Bright fresh, but lacking. On its own, its a good example of what the juniper tastes like, but as a gin I find it somewhat lacking.

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Gin Reviews

Origin: Italy (with Botanicals)

italy origin series bottles

This is the companion piece to the Origin: Italy with just juniper ()

Tasting Notes

This actually turns out to be a rather nice gin right now. Piney and fresh, but creamy lemon meringue and bright rosemary and thyme herbal notes. There’s no rosemary and thyme in here, so don’t be fooled. But this is the kind of flavor character that this juniper seems to take on with the addition of the botanicals. Still a bit sharp, I in fact can feel hints of burn in the back of my mouth long after the initial taste and the juniper lingers on the palette, first vibrant and citrusy, then fading to sour and flat, to bitter and just the taste of alcohol. Really, really interesting gin here. I could recommend this, again, for fans of classic juniper forward gin, but think that it probably lacks the smoothness to make it ideal for martinis. But don’t be shy, Negronis, 20th Century, Leap Years, French 75’s and so on, the juniper in here can stand up and stand out.

Vitals

Price: £34.95 / 700 mL Origin: [United KingdomJuniper Terroir: Arezzo, Italy Best consumed: Juniper forward enough to bring that “heavy punch” of juniper you want in a cocktail where the juniper in less potent gins can easily be beaten into submission.

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Gin Reviews

Origin: Bulgaria

bulgaria origin gins

Where are we Today? The town of Veliki Preslav is the site of an important historical/archaeological region of the nation of Bulgaria. In fact, just down the road was the first capital of the Bulgarian state. Veliki Preslav was the location of a fortress constructed over 1000 years ago under the rule of Knyaz Boris the first. An important cultural center of the early Bulgarian nation, Preslav has a heritage that spans the entire existence of Bulgaria. So it seems appropriate that for Bulgarian’s entry into the juniper terroir competition comes from a place with a history such as this.

Gin: Just Juniper Bright and almost night and day when compared with other entries in the series. Floral and bright. It almost reminds me of the taste of Hendrick’s gin. As if you don’t need the rose for the flavor of that gin. Just grab some juniper from Bulgaria. I went back for a second shot of the straight up juniper version. I just can’t believe how floral this is on its own with only juniper in it. Remarkable. It does taste like juniper, but I can’t believe that this is only juniper.

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Gin Reviews

Origin Bulgaria w/ Botanicals

bulgaria origin gins

This is the companion piece to Origin: Bulgaria with just juniper ()

Tasting Notes

Elegantly different. And if this is the exact same botanical mixture as the other origins, I’m shocked. Bright, notes of Cassia and almost anise coming out. Still bright and floral, but the extra botanicals emphasize the juniper side of this batch. Not as overwhelmingly floral. No double-take here. Its just a good gin. It could definitely work exceedingly well in a Negroni and even that floral side could make for a top notch Aviation. I can easily recommend this batch for mixing. It is a good gin period.

Vitals

Price: £34.95 / 700 mL Origin:  United KingdomJuniper Terroir: Veliki Preslav, Bulgaria Best consumed: Aviation’s, Martinis and Gin and Tonics. This gin could do it all. It might be a little too juniper forward to some, but for gin drinkers who really like gin, this will perform every cocktail. Availability: Master of Malt online.Website:http://www.masterofmalt.comRating: What a difference provenance makes. Bright and floral, radically different and that’s just from the juniper. Recommended, if you buy one Origin gin as a comparison point, be sure to include this one.

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Gin Reviews

Origin: Albania

albania origin gin bottles

Where are we today? In Albania, in the hills of an 8,000 hectare national park. The region we’re in is named for the Valbona River, one of the cleanest rivers in the country and the river whose meandering path over millennia has carved out the said valley. It looks rather beautiful from the travel website [Albania’s new frontier!]. Quaint, green mountains, cute little cottages and vibrant rivers. But we’re not there for this, we’re there for the juniper today.

Tasting Notes

A little quiet at first, building sharply. Almost sweet though, warm dark cherry. Rich, but bracing and still somewhat sharp. Clean long lasting juniper flavor hanging on the edge of the palette. Somewhat sour and bitter, but still clearly juniper. As a juniper forward gin, this actually kind of works. I could see it mixing nicely, though outside of a martini the really interesting notes from the juniper will be a bit lost.

This is the companion review to the Origin: Albania with botanicals ()

Vitals

Price: £34.95 / 700 mL Origin:  United Kingdom Juniper Terroir:  Valbonë, Albania Best consumed: Sipped neat to first appreciate the flavor of the juniper.

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