Category Archives: Gin

Review: Beefeater Winter Edition London Dry Gin

Gin is traditionally associated with summer drinking — and in fact, Beefeater put out a “Summer Edition” gin earlier this year to take advantage of that notoriety. So what do you do when winter’s chill is felt? Put out a “Winter Edition” gin to try to prove the snowbirds wrong.

Beefeater Winter Edition is likely going to be considerably tougher to find: It’s available only in travel retail (aka duty free) shops, price unknown, for a limited time.

It’s traditional gin with a plus: More citrus, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pine shoots in the infusion, bottled at 80 proof.

The results are less out there than you’d think. Beefeater Winter Edition is milder than standard Beefeater by a mile, mellowed out by clear cinnamon and fresh orange — not bitter orange peel — notes. A bit of vanilla character here, though it’s not in the recipe. Juniper is muted — unusual for this distillery — but still present. I’m not sure I can discern between juniper and “pine shoots,” but either way, the evergreen portion of Beefeater Winter Edition is pleasantly there, yet kept in balance with the other botanicals in the gin. Perfect, dare I say, for a little winter tipple.

A- / price unknown (in one liter bottles) / beefeatergin.com

beefeater winter edition gin Review: Beefeater Winter Edition London Dry Gin

Review: Tanqueray, Tanqueray No. Ten, and Tanqueray Rangpur

A reader recently complained (or kvetched, perhaps) that I didn’t review enough accessible products, stuff that you’d find on the shelf of your average liquor store and didn’t cost five figures.

Fair enough, so here you go.

It doesn’t get much more mainstream than Tanqueray, the British gin (produced in Scotland, actually) which is one of the best-selling spirits in the world.

Tanqueray exists in the U.S. in three varieties now (there’s also a vodka), and I recently received a holiday kit from the company so I could try them all side by side.

Here’s how they stack up.

Tanqueray London Dry Gin is the standard-bearer, and the company provides the identity of only three ingredients — angelica, coriander, and juniper. The rest are secret. That said, all one really needs to know — or tastes — in Tanqueray is the juniper. Along with Beefeater, I think it’s one of the most juniper-heavy gins on the market. Obviously people are into that: “Tanq & Tonic” is one of the most-called-by-name drinks of all time. The juniper nose is rich and strong on the palate. Secondary flavors are elusive, but you’ll find mildly bitter lemon and orange peel if you hunt for them. That evergreen character is all-encompassing, and as with heavily-peated Scotch, you either like this or you don’t. I find Tanqueray grows on you over time, but my ultimate gin preference is always to seek something with a little more balance and nuance. 94.6 proof. B / $17

Tanqueray No. Ten (10) strikes an immediate impression in its iconic, monolithic bottle, one of the best-designed decanters on the market. The gin inside clearly adheres to the Tanqueray formula, but it extends that with a bit more citrus. The company claims it is the only gin to use handpicked fresh fruit in its distillation, including white grapefruit, orange, and lime. There is also chamomile in the mix, a curious addition. What comes through in the finish is, of course, juniper, and all three of the citrus fruits mentioned. Grapefruit, for sure, with orange and lime more of an afterthought. I definitely prefer Ten to regular Tanqueray, and arguably worth the upgrade in price. 94.6 proof. A- / $28

Tanqueray Rangpur adds Rangpur limes to the Tanqueray recipe, and the results are obvious. The nose only hints at citrus, but it’s the finish where those limes — almost like tart Key limes — come to the forefront. Whereas standard Tanqueray can be overpowering with juniper, Rangpur is overpowering with lime — almost chemical in the way it comes across. The flavor is actually bigger and more powerful than standard Tanqueray — this despite a cut in proof of more than 12 points. The ultimate effect is more like a lime-flavored vodka than a gin, though it doesn’t eschew juniper character altogether. Not my favorite Tanqueray expression. 82.6 proof. C+ / $21

tanqueray.com

tanqueray Review: Tanqueray, Tanqueray No. Ten, and Tanqueray Rangpur

Review: Martin Miller’s London Dry Gin

One can hardly talk about Martin Miller’s gin without talking about Martin Miller. Miller is a self-described “gypsy” who often compares himself to Richard Branson — presumably because of the flowing locks both of them share. Miller made his money in mail-order dating, an antiques guide book, and a bed and breakfast before turning to hotels in England and finally gin. Now 10 years old, Martin Miller’s gin is an upscale bar standard, though it is far from exorbitantly priced.

But enough about him, here he has his own vanity spirit, a single-batch copper pot gin, steeped overnight with juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, citrus peel, orris root — and some oddities — powdered licorice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cassia bark. It is distilled in England, then shipped to Iceland where it is cut with water.

The results are on the powerful side for gin. The aroma hints at traditional, if muted, juniper notes, but the body packs more of a wallop: Quite a bite, with a distinct lemon finish (which is odd, since there is no lemon in it). All those herbal additions don’t do much to cut through it. Martin Miller’s is powerfully citrus on the whole — there’s even grapefruit here  — and maybe too much so. It’s not as wholly in balance as I’d like it to be, and the bite is a little tougher than it ought to be. It has some charms, but I think it requires just the right cocktail (and not a martini) to show off its biggest strengths.

This gin is 80 proof, but a stronger version, at 90.4 proof, is also available.

B+ / $29 / martinmillersgin.com

martin miller gin Review: Martin Millers London Dry Gin

Review: Darnley’s View Gin

darnleys view gin Review: Darnleys View GinWemyss (pronounced “WEEMS”) is well-known for its line of Scotch whiskys, and now the Wemyss family is taken an enormous leap into the world of white spirits, offering its first ever gin.

Darnley’s View is a London Dry Gin, flavored with just six botanicals, a scant number in a world of gins that commonly see 15 or more ingredients in the mix.

Darnley’s View is largely traditional, with juniper, lemon peel, coriander seed, angelica root, and orris root in the mix. The one big addition: elderflower, practically a weed on the Wemyss estate. It’s quite evident here, with that sweet lychee character giving the gin a charming, exotic character without being overpowering. What’s missing? Some orange peel — a traditional element in gin — would have added more balance — and frankly, Darnley’s View could benefit from a bit more juniper.

With its clean and light finish and sweet overtones, this is a great mixing gin, particularly in cocktails that use fruit juices in the mix. A martini wouldn’t be out of line, either.

On the whole, this is a solid workhorse of a gin, one that has just a little bit of uniqueness to keep things interesting and alive.

80 proof.

B+ / $40 / darnleysview.com

Review: Berkshire Mountain Distillers Spirits

Hailing from Sheffield, Massachusetts, Berkshire Mountain Distillers is a new (est. 2007) boutique distillery that makes a ragtag assembly of vodka, gin, and rum. Primarily available in the Northeast, we tasted through the company’s current lineup, with one exception (we’ll get to that later).

Berkshire Mountain Distillers Ice Glen Vodka is distilled from unknown materials, and is blended with water sourced directly from the Berkshire Mountain property, and finally charcoal filtered. The result is a surprisingly plain vodka. Though the body is buttery and rich, there’s only a minimal amount of flavor here. The primary taste is merely watery. It isn’t until the finish that some of vodka’s more traditional, medicinal notes start to come on, and linger they do for quite a while. This is an acceptable vodka but a hard sell at this price. 80 proof. B- / $30

Berkshire Mountain Distillers Greylock Gin is more unique, flavoring its spirit with juniper, coriander, angelica, orris root, orange peel, licorice, and cinnamon. Intensely aromatic, the juniper is a bomb on the palate of this London Dry style gin, with citrus the secondary note. Licorice is curious — and quite a delight — in the finish. This is a gin that feels quite versatile, though it does pack a wallop in the flavor department. 80 proof. A- / $30

Berkshire Mountain Distillers Ethereal Gin Limited Edition Batch No. 1 is exactly what it claims to be, a limited edition gin with unique flavoring agents. In this case, it has all the ingredients of Greylock, plus lemon, cubeb (grain of paradise), black pepper, elderberry, spearmint, rose hips, and nutmeg. As you might expect, it’s even more powerful than Greylock, and the mint and lemon shine through clearly. The finish turns a tad bittersweet, though. Perhaps this gin is just too busy? There’s already a Batch No. 2 (pink label) on the market as well, with a different recipe. 86 proof. B+ / $40

Berkshire Mountain Distillers Ragged Mountain Rum is the only brown spirit in this lineup, a pot-distilled and barrel-aged (for undetermined time) rum from Blackstrap molasses. The nose is distinctly earthy, not sweet, and the body backs that up — not wood, but the earth proper. Crafted as a sipping rum, I didn’t get the joy of drinking rum out of Ragged Mountain that I do with sweeter, aged styles, instead finding myself thinking this rum would work better in a simple mixed drink. B- / $30

berkshiremountaindistillers.com

Review: Beefeater London Dry Gin Summer Edition

Take standard Beefeater and add hints of elderflower, blackcurrant, and hibiscus flower and you’ve got Beefeater’s limited-release Summer Edition gin.

At least that’s what it says on the bottle. In my mouth, this tastes an awful lot like standard gin to me, with juniper top notes — always big in Beefeater — still dominating the nose and the body.

Hibiscus, oddly enough, is the most recognizable part of the additions here, giving this gin just a hint of floral character — one that’s probably enhanced by the elderflower in the mix, too.

But on the whole, Beefeater proves that, as with its “24” premium bottling, no matter what it adds to the blend, Beefeater is gonna do what Beefeater is gonna do: Dump a lot of juniper into the mix and call it a night. Yes, it’s a slightly softer gin than you might be used to, but it’s still unquestionably gin and it’s still got that juniper kick. Bring on the tonic.

80 proof.

B+ / $19 / beefeatergin.com

Beefeater Summer Gin Review: Beefeater London Dry Gin Summer Edition

Review: G’Vine Floraison and Nouaison Gins

In the beginning, there was just G’Vine. This upscale gin hails from France and is distilled from grapes, making it unique in the gin world, and its mild citrus-forward flavor made it a hit with Drinkhacker in the early days of the site — where it was one of the first spirits we reviewed back in 2007.

Now G’Vine is expanding its portfolio with Nouaison, another gin with a different character to call its own.

We got samples of both the original “Floraison” (green bottle) and “Nouaison” (grey bottle) to do a fresh little review of something old and something new.

G’Vine Floraison Gin, as our original review notes, is a milder style gin, with juniper as a secondary player. Lemon and orange are neck and neck here, with a muted juniper backbone that gives it more of a floral character (hence the name, perhaps), than an evergreen one. Still a winner and an easy pick for any cocktail, simple or complicated. This is a rare gin that is actually refreshing, not off-putting. 80 proof. A-

G’Vine Nouaison Gin has a more traditional aroma, and juniper is clearly more present in the blend here. The body is harsher, and the alcohol level is higher (87.8 proof), and it’s an obvious response to those who might have found Floraison too muted for their tastes. I’d say Nouaison overdoes it a bit in an attempt to dig toward London Dry style. Although there are some really intriguing characteristics here — an almost cocoa-like silkiness and a touch of leathery tannin on the finish, not to mention the intensity of the juniper and other spices — I find myself drifting back to Floraison as the night goes on. B+

each about $35 / g-vine.com

Review: Citadelle Reserve Gin 2009 Vintage

Citadelle isn’t just releasing this specially-flavored (with 19 spices) and cognac-barrel aged (5 months) gin — it’s actually going the vintage route, with this 2009 edition recently hitting shelves.

Versus the 2008 version, the only difference in recipe I can tell is one month less in oak: 5 months vs. the 2008 bottling’s 6 months. It’s still a hazy golden hue, with spice and citrus, and a little vanilla finish imparted by the time in cask. Just as good as the 2008 — perhaps a little smoother, even. I like it a lot and recommend it just as highly as last year’s model.

Even better: It can now be found for cheaper than the 2008, about $5 less per bottle. Win.

A / $35 / citadellegin.com

Citadelle Gin Reserve Vintage 2009 Review: Citadelle Reserve Gin 2009 Vintage

Classic Recipe: Pegu Club Cocktail

Ted Haigh reminds us in Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails that there’s a reason why the Pegu Club in New York has its name.

Pegu Club Cocktail
1 1/2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. Cointreau
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Goes down a little too easy. Note: The better the quality of the gin you use, the better this drink will be.

pegu club cocktail Classic Recipe: Pegu Club Cocktail

Original Recipe: The Bull Ku Cocktail

Made this for company, to rousing applause — to take advantage of Bulldog gin, one of my new favorites, and Ty Ku liqueur. The cool, light green color didn’t come across in my photo, alas…

The Bull Ku Cocktail
1 1/4 oz. Bulldog gin
1/2 oz. Ty Ku (original) liqueur
Prosecco or cava

Shake the gin and Ty Ku with ice and strain into a cocktail glass or champagne flute. Top with prosecco or cava.

bull ku cocktail Original Recipe: The Bull Ku Cocktail

Drinkhacker’s 2009 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

Booze: The gift that keeps on giving, whether you like it or not. It’s now tradition at Drinkhacker to look back at the best new spirits of the year, offering our suggestions on our favorite tipples — and the stuff that’s most likely to impress your holiday giftee should he find a neatly wrapped bottle under the tree. As always, we’ve tried to offer suggestions in a variety of price ranges, with a focus on spirits a bit out of the ordinary — as long as, no matter what the price, it’s the best stuff on the shelf.

Also check out our 2008 holiday guide.

Bourbon – Old Rip Van Winkle Family Reserve 23 Years Old (2009 Edition) – $350 – A hugely expensive and hugely delicious bourbon that will impress your giftee until he’s three sheets to the wind. More affordable choices include Evan Williams Single Barrel 2000 Edition, a complete steal at $26, or the always-good George T. Stagg limited edition bourbon; the 2009 is a real standout.

macallan 1824 4 bottle lineup 274x300 Drinkhacker’s 2009 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for ChristmasScotch – Macallan 1824 Collection — prices vary — This collection of four different whiskys was bviously not distilled in 1824 (it’s just an homage), but your giftee doesn’t have to know that. For a real splurge: Laphroaig 25 Years Old is a rare knockout.

AbsintheVieux Carre – $60 - The absinthe craze is finally on the wane, and fewer new brands popped up in 2009 than last year. Vieux Carre, made in Philadelphia, is arguably the best.

GinBulldog - $25 – I love everything about this gin, which is light, fresh, and inexpensive. Also check out Citadelle Reserve, which is aged and unique — any gin drinker will find it quite the departure from Tanqueray.

Vodka – Any tea-infused vodka– less than $20 – Tea-flavored vodkas are the booze trend of the year, and for good reason, they taste great! Firefly and Jeremiah Weed are both outstanding. For a good unflavored vodka pick, check out Van Gogh Blue or Vermont Gold.

Rum – Appleton Reserve — $24 – You won’t find a better rum at this price level on the market. Brugal Extra Viejo is comparable in price and quality.  For Captain Morgan fans, hook them up with The Kraken and you’ll blow their mind.

bache gabrielsen hors dage 185x300 Drinkhacker’s 2009 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for ChristmasBrandy – Bache-Gabrielsen Hors d’Age Cognac — $400 – Not just a killer cognac, it’s the best sub-$1,000 spirit I tried this year. I have one, sad, half-ounce drop left in the sample I received at the end of September. I can’t bring myself to finish it off.

TequilaCasa Noble - $40 to $60 – This line of tequilas is both delicious across the board, from blanco to anejo, and the bottles are pretty enough to gift without wrapping. 901 is good for a silver. Or try mezcal: Mijes Joven is the best I tried in ’09.

Liqueur – J. Witty Chamomile Liqueur - $25 – Continuing the tea craze is this exotic and very spicy liqueur, flavored with chamomile leaves and other essences. For fans of the bitter stuff, look into Root Liqueur. I also wholeheartedly recommend just about anything from the Thatcher’s Organic line.

Need another custom gift idea? Drop me a line or leave a comment here and I’ll offer my best advice!

Review: Bulldog Gin

Yes Virginia, they still make gin in England, despite all the Johnny-come-latelys operating out of the States and other countries.

In fact, you might say they still make the best gin in England, as time and time again these blokes prove that they can’t be beat when it comes to flavoring neutral spirits with the little berries off of evergreen trees.

Bulldog Gin is a quadruple distilled spirit, 80 proof, that hails from London proper. Infused with the traditional botanicals, it adds to the mix considerably by including in its ingredient list dragon eye (aka longon), poppy, lotus leaves, lemon, almond, cassia, lavender, orris, licorice, angelica, coriander, and of course juniper.

The result is distinctly gin but hardly something I’d call a “bulldog.” The spirit is actually quite delicate and mild, a harsh rebuke to the over-greened Beefeaters of the world. Picking out the flavorings is tricky. The juniper is certainly the strongest, but I also get a lot of lemon, then the lavender and the licorice. (But rest assured it’s not absinthy in any way.)

Best of all, Bulldog isn’t harsh but is quite smooth and easy to drink solo, rare for a lot of gins. Whether you’re a tonic type or want a slightly unusual martini, Bulldog is an excellent pick, one of the best gins on the market today and at a great price.

A / $25 / bulldoggin.com

bulldog gin Review: Bulldog Gin

Recipe: Sweet Basil Cocktail

This recipe comes to us from Virginia mixologist Todd Thrasher, as published in Food & Wine Cocktails ’09. Fun little cocktail… as long as you like basil!

The photo in the book is a whole lot greener, I have to say.

Sweet Basil
10 basil leaves, plus one for garnish
3 oz. Lillet Blanc
1/2 oz. gin
1 oz. simple syrup

Lightly muddle 10 basil leaves in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and other ingredients, and shake well. Double strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with extra basil leaf.

sweet basil cocktail Recipe: Sweet Basil Cocktail

4th of July Cocktail Recipes – 2009

Every time a holiday rolls around, the spirits makers commission all manner of cocktails from their in-house mixologists and professionals in the field. Independence Day is no exception, and this post full of selected recipes is drawn from what is arguably the biggest bumper crop of cocktail ideas I’ve seen since starting this blog. Hope you like red, white, and blue.

Sapphire American Collins 244x300 4th of July Cocktail Recipes   2009The American Collins

1 1/2 oz. Bombay Sapphire
3/4 oz. simple syrup
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
4 Bing cherries, pitted
8 blueberries

In a Collins glass, muddle the blueberries and cherries in the lemon juice and simple syrup. Add Sapphire and ice and stir briefly. Top with club soda. Garnish: 1 Bing Cherry and 1 Lemon Wheel.

Firecracker

3 oz. Flor de Caña 7 Year Grand Reserve Rum
1 oz. Triple Sec
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. simple syrup (boil and cool equal parts water and sugar)
4 watermelon chunks
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Whirl all ingredients together and pour into a glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Lucid Stars and Stripes 221x300 4th of July Cocktail Recipes   2009Stars and Stripes

1/4 oz. Lucid Absinthe
1 oz. Blueberry Vodka
1/4 oz. Simple Syrup
Splash of Lemon Juice
Drizzle of Raspberry Liqueur
Ginger beer
Fresh Blueberries

Muddle fresh blueberries and add syrup, Lucid, juice and vodka. Add ice and shake and pour into highball glass. Drizzle Liqueur and top with Ginger Beer. Garnish with one sugar cube.

Sobieski Star

1 1/2 oz. Sobieski Vodka
1/2 oz. Massenez Créme de Peche
3/4 oz. Pineapple Juice
1 oz. Lychee Juice
1/4 oz. Lime Juice
Garnish: Star fruit

Put all the ingredients in a shaker, shake and strain into a Martini glass.

Roman Candle 214x300 4th of July Cocktail Recipes   2009The Roman Candle

4 oz. Korbel Brut
1 oz. Tuaca Italian liqueur
Garnish with dried cranberries

Combine in a tall flute.

ZICO Doodle Dandy

2 oz. ZICO Mango
4 oz. Skyy Infusions Vodka all natural passion fruit
1 oz. Cointreau
Splash of cranberry juice
Slice of orange
Strawberry

Mix all ingredients together in a shaker with ice. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a fresh strawberry and enjoy.

summerjulep 214x300 4th of July Cocktail Recipes   2009Old Forester Summer Julep

1 1/2 oz. Old Forester bourbon
2 oz. Lemonade
1 oz. Pomegranate Juice

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain over ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

The Roman Candle

In a tall flute add:

4 ounces Korbel Brut (a sparkler for your Independence Day entertaining)

1 ounce Tuaca Italian liqueur (the Italian heritage lends itself to the cocktail’s name)

Garnish with dried cranberries

Review: Beefeater 24 Gin

Tanqueray has its 10. Beefeater kicks that up to 24.

Premium gins — and expansions of big-name brands — are becoming quite the rage, and “24” from England’s Beefeater is the latest in this trend.

24 is an extension of the venerable Beefeater brand, drawing its name from the 24-hour period its botanicals steep in the base spirit (an unspecified grain spirit) before it magically turns into gin. The botanicals used in this concoction range from the traditional to the exotic, including the usual suspects — juniper, orange peel, lemon peel, coriander seed, angelica root, angelica seed, orris root — some eye-raising, unusual additions — licorice, grapefruit peel, almond — and two extremely odd ones — Japanese sencha tea and Chinese green tea. (Legend has it Beefeater’s founder was the grandson of a tea seller, hence the lattermost additives.)

Traiditonal Beefeater is loaded with powerful juniper character, and 24 is no exception. But here the juniper is softer, tempered by a good amount of citrus. The grapefruit actually comes through strongly, which surprised me.

Sadly I didn’t really get anything I’d describe as tea in this gin — I don’t know how you could when it’s got to stand up to that ingredient list — though I love the idea of it. Maybe, if you strain, and think about tea, you can taste it in there. But maybe that’s just my imagination.

Either way, it’s an interesting, and worthy, gin — but as with regular Beefeater it still strikes me as packing a little too much in the juniper department. But hey, that’s just me.

24 runs a hot 90 proof (needs lots of ice) and bottled in an ornate decanter with an infernal red base. Quite striking.

B+ / $30 / beefeater24.com

beefeater 24 Review: Beefeater 24 Gin

What Web Users Want to Drink…

Today I did a fun comparison, checking out historical Google search trends for the terms gin, vodka, whiskey, tequila, and rum.

While vodka‘s win (based on average search volume since 2004) is no surprise, the fact that tequila was right behind — and has led search volume since late 2007 — was quite a shock.

Also: They apparently love rum in Sweden. (Oh, and wine and beer destroy all the spirits, handily.)

Check out the complete data here!

web search volume alcohol 300x129 What Web Users Want to Drink...

[click to enlarge]

Recipe: The P.B.L.T.

This is an insane amount of work for a drink (and it’s barely a drink), but I absolutely love the presentation. This recipe for a reinvented (and alcoholic) BLT sandwich comes from Gina Chersevani.

P.B.L.T.
1 oz Plymouth gin
1 cube of lettuce water
1 cube of tomato water
Spray vinegar on one side of glass and stick dehydrated bacon dust on side.

First spray vinegar on a glass and dip in dehydrated bacon dust, then place a lettuce water cube, tomato cube, then pour the Plymouth Gin over top.

Tomato Cubes

16 oz of fresh tomato juice (either in a juicer or done in a blender and then strained)
1 teaspoon of white pepper
1 pinch of fleur de sel
4 oz of fresh lemon juice
4 dashes of Tabasco

Combine all ingredients together and fill ice trays.  Makes about 24-30 cubes

Lettuce Cubes

14 oz of lettuce water (2 large heads of iceberg lettuce, that has been juiced in a juicer)
1 teaspoon of white pepper
1 pinch of fleur de sel
4 oz of lemon juice

Combine all ingredients together and fill ice trays.  Makes about 20-24 cubes

pblt Recipe: The P.B.L.T.

Review: Cadenhead’s Old Raj Gin 110 and 92 Proof

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

wmcadenhead.com

Review: Rehorst Vodkas and Gin

Rehorst? Funny name for a vodka, but it’s the name of the man behind Great Lakes Distillery in Wisconsin, which puts out this “Milwaukee Vodka” in a standard and unusual flavored version as well as a gin.

We tried all three. Here’s how they stack up.

Rehorst Vodka is distilled from red wheat and malted red wheat, and offers a very traditional approach to vodka. The nose is moderately medicinal, but the body is lighter, with a sweet entry and bread-like character to the body. The finish is lingering, but pleasant, very lightly bitter, and a bit metallic. Pleasant. 80 proof. B / $30

Rehorst Citrus & Honey Vodka – A flavored first for me — citrus and honey? The nose is heavy with orange and some lime notes, but I didn’t get much honey (other than vague sweetener) until I tried it in a cocktail, when the honey flavors blossomed. This is not altogether fascinating on its own, but it shines as a substitute for regular vodka or gin in any number of cocktails simple or complex. 80 proof. B+ / $30

Rehorst Gin offers a traditional nose, with a little kick. Rehorst kicks up its traditional botanicals (juniper is on the heavy side) with the addition of two unique extras: sweet basil and Wisconsin ginseng. The combination is quite engaging, and you can certainly taste strong citrus and ginseng notes in the spirit. Maybe no basil specifically, but in the combination Rehorst has hit upon, it all comes together quite impressively. My favorite spirit of the bunch. 88 proof. A- / $30


“Breathe Responsibly”

It’s, to say the least, “a very unusual way to imbibe alcohol,” as one man puts it: A sort of steam room that is filled with a gin-and-tonic mist. You don’t drink it. You just breathe it in.

And it gets you a little drunk along the way. Per the Times Online:

The mist tastes sweet and tangy – like an excellent gin and tonic – and is actually very satisfying to breathe in. None of us are quite sure if we feel drunk. Spending 40 minutes in the room is supposed to be the equivalent of a single cocktail but presumably heavy breathers (athletes and brass players?) will inhale the most.

The bad news: Unless you want to be covered with gin from head to toe at the end of your breathing session, you have to wear a special outfit during your time in the drunk tank.

Click through for video and information on getting tickets should you find yourself in London.