You might be saying— but Aaron, that names sounds Polish.
And indeed your are correct. Monopolowa can trace it’s brand’s origins back to the late 18th century Poland. The name means “Monopoly” and refers to the monopoly Polish elites had over the vodka market. After World War II, the Gesslers— an established Austrian distributor and distilling family— acquired the rights to the name J. A. Baczewski, the original distillers of the Monopolowa brand. But by the late 1990s all Polish connection to the brand disappeared, as the last distilleries in Gdansk still producing products under the brand name ceased operations.
Today, Monopolowa still produces their vodka in Austria. And today, that line also includes Monopolowa Gin.
Monopolowa Dry Gin, just like their vodka, is distilled from a base spirit of that quintessentially Polish base spirit, of Potato.
The nose of Monopolowa Dry Gin at first breath is classic leaning. Bright, pine-leaning juniper, some notes of orange zest, with a spicy, delicate background note— ginger and a bit of angelica like musk.
The potato base spirit underlying the gin is nicely executed. There’s a lovely viscosity here, slightly oily with a perceptible thickness. Monopolowa Gin coats the palate nicely and lasts with a gentle, warm, and enduring finish.
Taste wise, light citrus comes on at first, leading into pine-forward juniper mid-palate. Ginger starts to rear its gently spicy head as the spirit recedes on the palate— lemon zest and bitter, non-mentholic fennel seed— sappy, resiny, juniper merges with a lovely spice and aniseed melange on the finish.
Monopolowa Dry Gin works well in cocktails. Bartenders looking for a versatile— but slightly different gin as a house pour— Monopolowa Gin fits the bill in terms of taste (and I’d be remiss to not point this out as well— price point).
It comes through in a Gin and Tonic with a slightly classic perspective, that’s elevated with a squeeze of fresh lemon. The anise notes come on at the end, merging well with the bitterness of the tonic. Similarly, I think it pairs well with Vermouth and would be a good budget option for a Martini. It’s certainly not as complex as some other premium gins on the market; however, it works well and differentiates itself with the way ginger and wormwood play off each other. Serve it really cold, and garnish with a twist.
Overall, I found Monopolowa Dry Gin to work well in drinks ranging from the Gin and Juice to the Clover Club Cocktail. It’s a workhorse gin that works well and brings the expected notes.
This gin is a great deal for its price point and its versatility. Standing on its own, contemporary gin fans will like the citrus, spice, and juniper— pretty well balanced. Classic gin fans will likely find Monopolowa veering a little bit more towards the Bombay Sapphire end of the spectrum than Tanqueray; however it’s still in the middle ground between the two styles, and dare I say it, in a marketplace full of very bold contemporary approach gins, Monopolowa Dry Gin may be slightly more classic than the lot.
Recommended at its price point.