Aviation Gin

Aviation GinI consider Aviation Gin to be the gin equivalent of when an artist writes a manifesto.

At the same time Gordon’s gin launched gin 1769, Sir Joshua Reynolds wrote Discourses on Art— which came to be one of the founding documents of idealistic and internal interpretations of reality in painting.

In the late 1980’s, at the same time Bombay Sapphire launched the Guerilla Girls enscribed their manifesto decrying a systemic under-representation of women in contemporary art.

And then there was Ryan Magarian’s 2009 Manifesto New Western Style Gin Defined. For all of us who consider gin an art-form; The canvas a spirit; The brushes the botanicals— Ryan’s document was a statement of artistic intention. That established the philosophical and artistic underpinnings of why something new was needed.

“In my opinion, for the Aviation’s, Hendrick’s, and other gins discussed above to have any chance at long term success, they need to have a recognized designation of their own, clearly identifying their uniquely balanced flavor perspectives which will in turn, allow potential consumers a easy understanding of these products and how they differ from others in the category for years to come.” Magarian, 2009

Aviation Gin begins with the maceration of nine botanicals in neutral grain spirit. It is then distilled, cut, and bottled at 42% ABV. In 2018 actor Ryan Reynolds bought an ownership stake in the now over a decade old brand.

Tasting Notes

Looking back on Aviation Gin— it’s a bit more juniper forward than others in the contemporary gin explosion. The nose has dull juniper, wet dark boreal forest, lavender and rooty, earthy spice. Although angelica is not one of the botanicals disclosed by House Spirits, Aviation Gin has an aromatic nose that strongly suggests to me angelica root. In any event, it’s a lovely and inviting nose whether a gin purist or a contemporary gin fan.

The palate is where some of Aviation Gin’s spice flourishes are more evident. Notes suggestive of root beer early lead into hints of cinnamon, cassia and a fair bit of cardamom.

Aviation Gin finishes with a floral and earthy spice note, with a very literal hint of birch beer and flamed orange peel. The finish is long and moderately warm.

Cocktails

Aviation Gin is named for the Aviation and it goes without saying— it makes an excellent cocktail. The floral notes from the creme de violette amplify some of the cardamom and lavender notes. Absolutely delicious.

But I generally found that it worked well in a lot of floral applications. Try it in an Arsenic and Old Lace or Moonlight Cocktail. For bartenders, Aviation Gin is an easy go-to when you have a floral cocktail and you need a good gin complement.

For my money though, Aviation has really come into its own as a contemporary gin-forward cocktail option. I think the Martini warrants a closer look by anyone who is a fan of gin. Maybe half because of the historicity— or just because it’s a good cocktail.

Overall, Aviation Gin

Since Aviation Gin launched in 2006, it has been on the cusp of controversy. I’ve had people tell me that Aviation turned them on to gin. I’ve had people swear of reading my work because they bought a bottle and poured it down the toilet†.

Still over ten years later, this is one of the best contemporary gins available on the market today. Time has made it seem more classic than it was on its initial launch, but fans of either style could enjoy a Martini together and revel in just how far we’ve come as a community.

Highly Recommended.

Footnotes

† If you’re reading this, please come back to American gin. As a nation, our gin has so much to offer.
‡ Perhaps more a technicality than anything, House Spirits was so successful with their gin that they sold it to Davos Brands in 2016.

 

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Readers' Reviews

by Lisa

Not for me! Had a very odd flavor.

by Brujazz

I’m one of those people who swear by this gin. Yes, it may fall into the “contemporary” category but there’s enough juniper present to hint of a more classic taste. I love it in a gin and tonic but it really shines stirred (not shaken) and imbibed neat. The finish is incredibly long and complex. I’ve also found it wonderful sipped with various salty and spicy foods. I really think the 4 1/2 star rating under values how wonderful Aviation really is.

by Camille

I loved the packaging, bottle and label design, and the reviews I read said favorable things so I gave it a try. I have an almost genetic aversion to caraway seeds, think how some people hate the taste of cilantro. Anyway, I absolutely detected the flavor of caraway in this gin. It made it hard to choke down for me, no matter how much tonic or lime I used. So Aviation is a 'no' for me.

by Bruce

Had it stirred (of course, not shaken), unadulterated. Very elegant but so full of flavor from the bouquet to a very long finish. The botanicals were very well integrated and appeared at different times during the tasting. Definitely tasted the sasparilla, juniper, caraway and citrus, but not the lavender. I can surely see as a very flexible gin and it in a GnT with all different tonics, as well as a Bees Knees and Tom Collins. Aviation will be permanently and in the forefront of my gins.

by Steven

Unexpected flavour. I'm no expert but with a tonic, I really get the sarsaparilla coming through. That's the flavour that is most obvious to me with hints of root beer.I like it but its possibly the least conventional gin I've had in awhile.

by Ben

Really nice graphic design for the bottle but this is one of particular gin is not really one of my favorites. I’ve tried it with three different tonics and also tried a little bit straight and can’t really find a way to make this gin acceptable to my palet.

by john Webb

Having tried countless Gins over the years I found this Gin superb and like my Whisky a very easy product you can drink neat.

by Chip Mincey

I’m a gin drinker at heart. Mostly GNT and I’ve tried hundreds of gin. I find this one a little floral for my taste. I’ve tried it with Fever Tree, Seagrams, and Q tonic but I have never found the right combination for my taste buds..for reference my preferred gins are Tangreay, Beefeater, Plymouth, and Hendricks...favorite tip is freeze tonic cubes for ice to keep consistent taste throughout your pour

by Harley

I actually threw up a little in my mouth this is the most vile thing I have ever drink I poured it down the sink

by Simone

The reviews on Aviation Gin are varied and I think if you're a gin drinker you have to try it yourself. I usually drink gin with tonic but thought I would try something different now I'm a paid up member of the Australasian Gin Connoisseurs Club (GC's). I was surprised by the strong aroma and couldn't decide whether I liked that assault on my nostrils. I'm not certain which of the many 'notes' I inhaled that we're listed on the makers website. It smells earthy, not florally which to me is a good thing. It is a refined gin compared to 'supermarket' labels available.. I enjoyed my second glass more than my first. I think my taste buds are adjusting to this new type of gin and I'm starting to enjoy it. A good thing given the price is up there. Whether I become loyal to this label, I'm not sure. I think Prohibition Gin is still my favourite.

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26 thoughts on “Aviation Gin

  • September 3, 2013by Jil

    I don’t see why anyone likes this gin. I poured mine down the drain. I made a martini with it and it was so vile, I didn’t even eat the olives. I thought maybe it was my taste-buds being off that night so I tried it again last night. Its polluting the Lackawanna river by now. I should have know better than to buy a domestic gin. I’ll stick with the English gins from now on.

  • September 3, 2013by AaronPost author

    Not all domestic gins are of this style. The big mistake with Aviation is thinking that it’s the same style as the gins you’re used to from the UK. Look for Halcyon Gin, Denver Dry Gin or Big Gin. All are domestic, made here in the states, but are much closer to the juniper forward style that most English gins are known for.

    Aviation is a bit different, intentionally so. But it’s hardly representative of all American distilling. I have heard even some distillers say similar things about Aviation and other contemporary gins as well. So please don’t lose faith in American gin!

    What state are you in? I could perhaps give you a more direct American recommendation based on what’s likely available where you are.

  • September 23, 2013by Jill

    Thanks for the education on domestic Gin. I’m from northeast Pennsylvania. I really was surprised by the Aviation. I loved the Art Deco style of their new bottle and was roped in. I will gladly take your recommendation on a domestic Gin that may be more like what I’m used to.
    Thanks again,

    Jill

  • September 26, 2013by AaronPost author

    Jill,
    I did a little bit of research on what I could find available in PA. It seems that Brandon’s Gin [http://theginisin.com/gin-reviews/brandons-gin/] is available [http://www.finewineandgoodspirits.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/SpiritsProductDisplayView?level0=null&level1=S_Gin&level2=&level3=&level4=&catalogId=10051&storeId=10051&categoryId=null&productId=1514490&langId=-1&prodlistCatId=Spirits&parent_category_rn=Spirits]

    Brandon’s has a couple of novel ingredients, like Tarragon for example, but don’t be too fooled. It’s classic in style with a touch of variation that sets it apart. I think it’s quite excellent and worth trying if you can find it.

    This one is special order, but this gin is just juniper and neutral grain spirit. Crater Lake gin infuses the juniper in the spirit [http://theginisin.com/gin-reviews/crater-lake-gin/] so it’s more of a bathtub style. It’s the basis of the style you like, but executed in a really different manner. [http://www.finewineandgoodspirits.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/SpiritsCatalogSearchResultView?tabSel=3&sortBy=&sortDir=&storeId=10051&catalogId=259052&langId=-1&parent_category_rn=Spirits&newsearchlist=no&resetValue=4&searchType=Spirits&minSize=&maxSize=&promotions=&rating=&vintage=&specificType=&price=0&maxPrice=0&varitalCatIf=&region=&country=&varietal=&listSize=45&searchKey=&pageNum=1&totPages=1&level0=Spirits&level1=S_Gin&level2=&level3=&keyWordNew=false&VId=&TId=&CId=&RId=&PRc=&FPId=&TRId=&ProId=&isKeySearch=&SearchKeyWord=Name+or+Code]

    Also on PA special order, take a look at Catoctin Creek or Gale Force. Junipero is also quite nice. Though the couple that I mentioned above [Big, Halcyon] are the finest examples of the classic style in the US today, it’s a shame they’re not yet available in PA. But I hope that at least a couple of these gins above might help you decide what spirits might be worth giving domestic gin a second chance for!

    Cheers, and thanks for reading. I really do hope you find something else that you like!

  • September 26, 2013by AaronPost author

    My own blog, and those comment links break the layout.
    anyway, this is the site: http://www.finewineandgoodspirits.com/ I heard was a good reference for what there is in PA.

  • December 30, 2013by Jim Felts

    I am a long time gin martini drinker, and I have to take exception to the inordinate praise heaped upon this acceptable gin by a few. It’s okay, but is way too floral for many tastes, and by the way, I do like decent vermouth in my martinis, but straight gin is okay if good. Wish I liked it better, but will stick to Bombay. If you want a sweet drink or plan to cover the taste with mixers, pretty much any gin will do, but I’m thinking classic gin martini drinkers will be less than impressed. Of course, taste is always personal.

  • August 19, 2014by BPCross

    Bold? Seriously? If you make your own tonic – you’re hard-pressed to taste that there’s any gin at all in your drink. Another “B” comes to mind … bland. I’ve not tasted such a lackluster gin before.

  • August 20, 2014by AaronPost author

    Hmm, interesting. Was it a fresh bottle you cracked open? I have noticed that some of the bolder aromatics dissipate if kept for a long time [like a rarely used bottle].

    But, to each their own. I think it definitely has a perspective and flavor, but understand it might not be to everyone’s tastes.

    Keep enjoying gin, Cheers!

  • September 23, 2014by robchristopher

    Having just tried this gin for the first time this evening, I think your notes are right on the money. I mixed up a martini, the way I usually do, but this time the vermouth (Dolin) really leapt out at me! The Aviation had quite a magnifying effect. Next time I’ll opt for a drier ratio. And I’m really intrigued to see how it’ll work in a Vesper (my 2nd fave gin cocktail).

  • January 24, 2015by Robert

    This review has been very helpful and right on. G’vine Floraison is the only Gin I could drink. Somehow therewas a bottle of aviation on myself when I was organizing not sure how it got there I always give away any Gin that’s not G’vine. So I tried the Aviation and was pleasantly surprised.Shortly after I search for some info and I found this review. Having a similar experience and thoughts I decided to give this Gin a go. Variety being the spice of life I’m happy to have them both on my shelf.

  • June 18, 2015by Bob

    Sorry folks, but I just tried this based on the Wine Enthusiast high rating. It tastes terrible to me! It left an after taste like dishwater. I cannot drink it. Never again. However, I will also mention that my wife said she kind of liked it. So, it’s all hers. :>)

  • July 6, 2015by Graham Miles

    I like this for the bottle alone which in Canad looks like a giant hip flask. However, the Sasparilla novelty wore off pretty quickly and I won’t be going back.

  • August 5, 2015by Erin

    I never met a gin I didn’t like, but I really struggled with this one! My first encounter I thought it was the different brand of tonic water I was using, or old ice. But my return to it was marked with a kind of floral sweetness and aftertaste that I just can’t handle. I thought it was the sarsaparilla that was giving it a cream soda/root beer-y taste, but I wasn’t sure. Great bottle, not my flavor style at all though. Looking for a cocktail I can mix it into to serve to party guests…

  • November 16, 2015by AJ

    Personally, I love Aviation gin. By far the best gin I have ever had, but, OTOH, I’m not a huge gin enthusiast.
    I can see how those who are expecting a big blast of juniper will be let down, but I really like the balance, smoothness, and complexity.

  • November 16, 2015by Bob

    Worst money I ever spent on spirits. Now, I’m afraid to try “American Gin” again. Might try “Old Tom.” I like Citadel quite a bit.

  • November 17, 2015by Kudu40

    Me too. I WILL NOT ever buy an American gin again. I spent too much money on drain cleaner.

  • January 12, 2016by starr

    I finally had a chance to try this because my liquor store had it on “closeout” for only $24. So I suppose they won’t be carrying it anymore, which is sad, but it’s also out of my price range normally so I’m glad I got the chance to try it. On the first sip it became my favorite gin. I certainly enjoy juniper-forward gins, but to me gin isn’t defined by juniper, it’s about interesting flavors. And this is the most interesting of all. I was wondering if you picked up a caraway flavor? That is what hit me the most on smelling it and tasting it.

  • February 11, 2016by Torsten

    “leave it to the experts, even knowing what I was looking for I wasn’t getting sasparilla”.
    Yes, leave it to the experts! INDIAN sarsaparilla [which is what is in this gin] does not taste like sarsaparilla at all.

  • April 16, 2017by NS

    It’s definitely not a London Dry, and I grew up on Tanqueray, but you can play the flavors to make a very nice Martini – cries out for a twist, not olives! House Spirits recommends Dolin, a twist, and a dash of orange bitters. Lovely for a change of pace. I don’t think it’s suited for G&T. Try Portland’s Aria if you are strictly a classicist, clean, balanced, new “old school”.

  • July 3, 2017by Rachel Keridwen

    Is anyone getting a peety taste with this–almost like a scotch? I love gin. But I don’t love this. For a nice American, or Pennsylvanian gin, try Bluecoat.

  • August 23, 2017by Anonymous

    Diluted with some ice, and the main flavor I got was anise.

  • November 10, 2017by Juan

    Terrible… I really wanted to like it… but can’t get to like the “floral” taste…

  • February 13, 2018by Donna Williams

    Not that crazy about it. There is a flavor in it I find awful, it reminds me of how an old box of band-aids or gauze 4×4’s smell. I killed the bottle hoping it would taste better. I just drank it with tonic and lime. I won’t buy it again. I have tried other domestic gins that I do like so I do not blame it on domestic. I do really like juniper so that was the first black mark. The aroma didn’t help.

  • February 21, 2018by Chad Riddle

    Not a particularly good gin if you like a true juniper-forward gin. Way too floral. I’d would even rather drink Gordon’s than Aviation, but I’ll stick with my Tangueray or Beefeaters.

  • March 1, 2018by Adam

    How does this compare to Hendricks Gin? That is my preferred gin, along with Nolet.

  • August 18, 2018by rickshaw

    Is the product available in Australia ? Big gin fan would be interested in trying . The U.K gins are exceptional , but would be interested to taste the USA production .

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