The discussion around New Amsterdam Gin on the internet seems to be alike “gin snobs don’t like it because of its citrus-forward approach. I’d like to dispel that notion first and foremost. The citrus-forward perspective is NOT a reason unto itself. Here at The Gin is IN we’ve prided ourselves in reviewing contemporary style gins as spirits worthy of discussion on their own merits. We don’t penalize spirits for having a different take on gin. Lacking in juniper alone is not grounds for a bad review.
Launched in 2007 New Amsterdam Gin was right at the fore of the Contemporary Gin explosion stateside. Combined with an aggressive marketing presence throughout the last decade. New Amsterdam or “New-Am” has won over quite a following. Priced at an affordable point and curated with a citrus-forward perspective, it (especially at the time) was unlike anything else available. Accessible and smooth, it has won people over and endures despite never being quite afforded the same esteem (by gin and cocktail experts at least) that enduring favorites like Bombay Sapphire, Beefeater, Tanqueray, or Gordon’s have. Why is that?
The nose of New Amsterdam Gin is immediately recognizable as citrus-forward. Light lemon, candied orange, herbaceous juniper hovers at the fringes, with even a slight note of angelica in the lower notes. It’s aroma is citrus-forward but not to the exclusion of other touches.
The palate is a citrus bomb however. Perky citrus, a smidge of lemon oil, candied orange rinds, orange slice candy, and an interesting lime/orange shift right in the mids. There’s a hint of ethanol during this mid-palate lull, which segues into a burst of citrus candy, lime/orange/lemon skittles primarily. The finish is short to moderate in length, with mostly citrus. The citrus dominates the palate, almost completely to the exclusion of any other notes.
The Gin and Tonic, which seems to be the most popular New Amsterdam Gin cocktail doesn’t hide the reasons why: clear and bright, it tastes like an orange led gin and tonic with a touch of lime towards the finish just out of the bottle. Perhaps a bit cloying, or to its critics, more like an orange flavored vodka, but it’s not hard to see how this could win people over.
I tried it in a Bees’ Knees. Although I liked the way the real citrus rounded out the gin’s flavor profile, warming up the citrus touch with some acidic and tart touches which lifted it, I found it overall to be lacking. I was looking for something more. The gin seemed to be a sleeping giant, relegated to the background. Anyway, honeyed citrus salad, fresh lemon, and a clean, crisp finish. Drinkable, but the gin isn’t doing much for it.
Next, I tried a Negroni. The short answer is dial it up to a 2 parts to 1 part Sweet and 1 part Campari minimum if you want to taste any of the gin. It was completely obscured, and didn’t add anything to the cocktail.
Parting Thoughts on New Amsterdam Gin
Concluding, New Amsterdam Gin isn’t a below-average gin because of its citrus flavor. It’s a below average gin because the citrus notes in it don’t taste real or authentic. They taste like artificial citrus essences being added after distillation. Or alternatively, perhaps they are real, but New Amsterdam adds too much sugar post-distillation.
The gins that New Amsterdam Gin most closely reminds me of are Asian gins such as Myanmar Dry Gin. Moreso than citrus-forward distilled gins such as Larios 12, Bluecoat, Pinckney Bend, Black Button’s Citrus Forward Gin, Chase’s Orange Flavored Gin, Seersucker Gin, etc. If you like citrus-forward gin, there’s a lot of gins which bring that flavor to the party, but do so through distillation alone and don’t add flavors/sweetening post-distillation.
I think my objection to New Amsterdam Gin is that the citrus tastes artificial and fake. Citrus and gin go hand in hand. But fake citrus is not a flavor I particularly like in my cocktails or drinks.
So certainly, if you love this gin, by all means continue to enjoy it. But I’d like to encourage you to try any of these gins mentioned above or any future gins we may suggest which are citrus forward.
Thanks for reading and keep enjoying gin, whether you agree with me or not.
Juniper is an afterthought, but that’s not really this gin’s primary issue. Fake citrus flavors abound. It’s accessible, but the fake citrus is what helps it read more as a citrus-flavored-vodka than a citrus-flavored-gin. It’s a inexpensive gin that will have fans of classic style gins crying “uncle.” Fans of contemporary gins may find something to like here, but seasoned gin drinkers will likely have already found a gin of this style that does it with a little more grace and without the cloying sweet notes.