New Amsterdam Stratusphere Gin, London Dry Gin

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New Amsterdam Stratusphere Gin is a new release from E. & J. Gallo Winery, makers of New Amsterdam Gin.

Thanks to its somewhat of a “soft launch,” there seems to be a fair amount of confusion already regarding Stratusphere Gin. It is not the same product as the original. There’s a couple of big differences.

Firstly, New Amsterdam Stratusphere Gin is a London Dry Gin and says so right on the bottle. Let’s recap what this means: London Dry refers to a process designation whereby a base spirit is distilled up to 96% ABV before undergoing a second distillation with botanicals. It has been said that New Amsterdam Gin was flavored with essences rather than by distillation. The designation on this bottle suggests that Stratusphere Gin is distilled.

Secondly, Stratusphere Gin is also bottled at a higher ABV in the bottle. At 47% it is aimed more at bartenders and cocktail-creators.

Tasting Notes

Whereas New Amsterdam Modern begins with cloying sweet, almost artificial orange— Stratusphere Gin leads with orange, but a slightly different take. Vivid bitter orange rind, with an unctuous, deep zestiness. There is a bit more here as well— hints of piney juniper and coriander round the nose out. Aromatically, it’s not too bad; however, there still seems to be notes of just straight up ethanol. While higher proof gins do tend to have a bit more in this regard, Stratusphere Gin has more harshness on the nose than peers at this ABV.

The palate is heavy on the citrus, just as their flagship gin was. Bitter orange early with some sweet, spice facets as well. Cassia in particular lends depth to this note. Mid-palate, juniper peers through. The finish is heavy with Seville orange mellowed with some streaks of red grapefruit flesh, and citron as well. There’s a slight metallic tinge on the finish. One hopes that this was only due to the either the plastic bottle or its top that I tried; however, sipped neat it kind of took away the orange finish.

New Amsterdam Stratusphere Gin is a riff on the original. It reminds me of a slightly less smooth version of Chase’s Seville Orange Gin, or a more citrus-forward (and still less smooth) version of Pinckney Bend Gin and Bluecoat Gin.

Cocktails

Mixing takes some of the edges off of Stratusphere Gin. Pretty much everything I pointed out about it neat can be fixed in a cocktail. That being said, New Amsterdam Stratusphere Gin doesn’t lend itself as well in a  Dry Martini or Gin and Tonic with unflavored tonic. It does work somewhat better in a Dirty Martini or a Gin and Flavored Tonic

The orange is strong and comes through in more difficult mixing applications like the Negroni or Gin and Juice.

Bartenders mixing with New Amsterdam Stratusphere Gin should keep in mind it has a very-citrus forward contemporary flavor and despite the moniker “London Dry” on the bottle it should not be regarded as a 1:1 substitute for juniper forward classic gins like Gordon’s.

Overall, New Amsterdam Stratusphere Gin

This gin becomes difficult to place in the market today. New Amsterdam Gin’s appeal is in large part because it is almost a flavored-vodka like gin. It’s appeal is in the fact that it targets a nearly completely different demographic than most other gins. It’s drinkers are normally non-gin-drinkers. In the sub $20 gin category, it is the most contemporary gin available.

But where exactly does an up-scaled New Amsterdam fit? Taste-wise, if you’re a fan of gin and citrus there’s already a plethora of options out there. I’m not sure New Amsterdam Stratusphere Gin does enough on the basis of added strength alone to convert drinkers of Bluecoat, Beefeater or Plymouth. The couple drawbacks of the product while not serious concerns for casual gin and juice fans are deal breakers for those who sip their gin neat or prepare it simply in things like a Martini.

While New Amsterdam Stratusphere Gin is a HUGE upgrade when compared to the original, I’m not sure it’s enough of an upgrade to warrant recommending it over other options on the market today.

If you’re looking to spend ~$15 and get a contemporary-style gin, New Amsterdam Stratusphere Gin is recommended. But otherwise, I’d suggest spending a few dollars more and looking elsewhere.