There are some common gins that have escape my careful eye over the years. And although I’m going to keep the focus on primarily gin innovation in America in 2012, I’m going to take an early year detour to Warrington, UK and look at a 250 year old gin: Greenall’s.
A little about Greenall’s
I usually try to go easy on the history section because this is available on every other cocktail review site and the product’s own personal website. But Greenall’s has a couple of very interesting notes in its history. 1761 was the first year that gin making was legal in England. Hence that’s the year Greenall’s incorporated. In 2005 the Distillery experienced massive fire, which despite the scale of the fire, only shut down production for six days. Nice work! And finally, they’ve only had seven master distillers in two and a half centuries. (sounds like an impressive nearly 40 years per master!) The current master distiller Joanne Moore is one of a small (but rapidly growing) number of women master distillers around the world.
It has a pleasing, but mild aroma. Its not particularly strong or intense. Neat, this bears out as well. There’s a bit more nuance. Intimations of classic flavoring elements like coriander, orange/lemon, and cassia hover just below the radar on the palate, ever so subtle. The juniper is easy going and very accessible. Its mild, and while the other flavors do a good job of not overpowering the juniper, they suffer from the fact that as co-stars to a very soft-spoken lead that they can easily get lost.
Greenall’s doesn’t have a lot of heat for a London dry. It has a rather smooth quality that hovers somewhere between refreshing and leaving one wanting. There’s a certain substantialness that’s lacking and leaving me wanting. Its a London Dry style to the core, and the ingredients leave me wondering where that long finish or distinct spice is. Its not there, and that may actually be an positive for someone who wants a London Dry without feeling overwhelmed by the dryness.
Mixing with Greenall’s
As I said, the flavors are subtle. If you want to taste the full range of Greenall’s, neat and dry martinis are the only place where I think it really shines. I found that even mixed in tonic the quinine was the dominant flavor. I had to really look for the juniper, and frankly nothing else stood out.
It struggles when placed with bold flavors. It was hard to be tasted to in a Negroni, Aviation, Last Word or other similar cocktail. It was there, but very quiet.
But perhaps this sounding too negative, because the smoothness and the subtlety can actually be a good thing, particularly with novice gin drinkers, or someone looking for more easy going cocktail. Its a perfectly acceptable gin for nearly anything you can throw at it.
Best consumed: Smooth enough for a martini, but it works in about everything.
Availability: Very common. Likely your corner liquor store.
Rating: Non-gin drinkers may not know for certain that it’s gin upon first taste in a mixed drink. Solid gin with wide appeal that works well in any cocktail, but doesn’t stand out.