Check the top shelf of any respectable bar and Old Raj Dry Gin is probably represented there. And rightly so: This is top-shelf gin in both its incarnations and merits serious praise from any gin aficionado. Old Raj comes from the UK’s Cadenhead’s, a company best known for its independent Scotch whisky bottlings (it’s Scotland’s oldest indie bottler), and you might be surprised at how high-quality it is. It’s certainly priced accordingly…
Old Raj 110 Proof is the variety you’re most likely to see. That’s not a typo, this is really a 55% alcohol gin, making it one of (if not the) highest-proof gins on the market, as well as one of the most expensive. I was girding myself for detox when I took the first sip but, to my amazement, Old Raj 110 isn’t really hot at all. Smooth and subtle, it’s sippable on its own or in a martini (or, really, any other cocktail — it’s quite versatile). Juniper is muted, and orange/orange peel are hefty on the nose. Old Raj is the slightest bit yellow due to the addition of saffron to the infusion, but it’s very subtle, unlike Gabriel Boudier’s nuclear Saffron Infused Gin. The flavors all come across as fresh and natural here — nothing chemical, no aftertaste — all completely in harmony and offering a nicely semisweet finish. If it weren’t for the price this would be my new house gin. A / $62
Old Raj 92 Proof is awfully similar, and while it’s clearly designed to be easier-drinking than its 110-proof big brother, I frankly didn’t notice a lot of difference in the two gins when tasted side by side. The smallest amount of extra melted ice in the 110 proof will, for example, make these two functionally identical. No reason not to grab one over the other, really. The money you save on this bottle — if you can find it; not many outlets seem to stock the milder version — is offset almost exactly by the alcohol lost in the watering down. Stick with the 110 bottle and it’ll last longer (in theory). A- / $50
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