Gin is thought to be a British adaptation of the Dutch spirit genever, though the origins of both gin and genever are subject to debate. Gin is, in essence, a flavored vodka as it is in fact a neutral spirit with certain flavorings added to it, though gin distillers won’t thank you for saying that. The key, characteristic flavor of gin must be of juniper, and historically juniper has been an overwhelming component of the spirit. In recent years, distillers have moved to tempering the impact of juniper and pumping up other flavors in the bottle, sometimes resulting in a spirit that’s closer to a flavored vodka. In the European Union and some other places gin must be at least 75 proof, while in the U.S. it must be at least 80 proof. “Navy Strength” gins are often bottled at 114 proof. Today, numerous sub-styles of gin have emerged out of the classic London Dry, including a resurgence of the archaic Old Tom gin style, Plymouth gin (which is also a famous brand), and New Western (or New American) gin, which tends to push the flavor boundaries of the spirit. Aside from Plymouth gin, which must be produced in a specific town in England, these gins have no formal, legal definitions or requirements.

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Review: Right Gin

By Christopher Null | February 12, 2009 |

Who knew they made gin in Sweden? Right Gin may in fact be the only gin from Sweden, but remember that gin is really just flavored vodka, which Sweden certainly knows from Adam. The flavor choices here are largely traditional — juniper, coriander, cardamom, and a variety of citrus botanicals (including lemon as well as…

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Review: Cricket Club Gin

By Christopher Null | January 31, 2009 |

From the out-there world of saffron gin we return to something more traditional, a relatively straightforward London style gin called Cricket Club (from the folks at Indio Spirits). 86 proof and crisp is a fresh apple, Cricket Club isn’t overly surprising. A moderate hand with the juniper helps some of Cricket’s other charms come through:…

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Review: Gabriel Boudier Saffron Infused Gin

By Christopher Null | January 31, 2009 |

One look at Gabriel Boudier’s saffron gin and you are instantly intrigued. The king of the spice world married with spirits royalty? The result is intriguing to say the least, but it’s unfortunately somewhere short of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier. I tried a tiny sample of Boudier at last year’s WhiskyFest but now that…

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Esquire’s Best Cheap Booze

By Christopher Null | January 22, 2009 |

I expect to see lots of recession-minded lifestyle coverage in the upcoming months. Esquire magazine doesn’t disappoint with this roundup of the best cheap spirits — stuff that’s affordable but which you wouldn’t mind actually serving to guests. The winners: Paul Masson Grande Amber VSOP brandy, Brugal Anejo rum, White Horse Scotch, Gordon’s gin, and…

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Review: Organic Nation O-N Vodka and Gin

By Christopher Null | December 9, 2008 |

Organic spirits are a category that you just can’t stop. Organic Nation hails from Oregon’s Cascade Peak Spirits Inc., and Organic Nation Vodka and Gin are the company’s first two offerings. A ginger-flavored vodka and at least one whiskey (organic whiskey is decidedly rare) are coming in 2009. While we wait for those, we occupied…

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Drinkhacker’s 2008 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

By Christopher Null | November 28, 2008 |

What better gift is there than a bottle of booze? Not only will your giftee think you’re incredibly sophisticated, chances are he’ll let you drink a good amount of it before he realizes his terrible mistake. What’s the best booze to put under the tree this Christmas season? Of course you want to offer something…

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Review: Gale Force Gin

By Christopher Null | November 6, 2008 |

One final look at the product line from Triple Eight Distillery — we’ve covered their vodkas and rum already. Surprise: Gale Force Gin may very well be the best thing the company makes. Then again, maybe that’s not such a shock. Nantucket bluebloods consume all the gin in this country already, so they’re probably just…

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Tasting Report: WhiskyFest San Francisco 2008

By Christopher Null | October 11, 2008 |

It’s official: WhiskyFest is awesome. Bouncing around the dozens of booths and hundreds of spirits being poured was tons of fun: More intimate than the enormous wine events and studded with wall-to-wall kilts. My final tally: 24 whiskeys tasted (plus a rum and a gin). That’s more than I was expecting to sample, but as…

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Review: Junipero Gin

By Christopher Null | August 28, 2008 |

Junipero is old school. Sipping it takes you back in time. You can imagine Churchill pulling down this stuff while trying to decide what to do about those friggin’ Nazis. Junipero makes a really perfect gin martini: The juniper, as you’d imagine from the name, is up front yet not overpowering. But it’s more spicy…

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The Mystery of “Overproof” Gordon’s Gin

By Christopher Null | July 5, 2008 |

Reader Peter May writes: I’m not so sure about what you say about Gordon’s Gin (in the Vesper cocktail) and — I’m not saying you are wrong, but I’d just like to chew the fat on this if that’s OK . You mention about Gordon’s being reformulated from 94 to 80 proof. But are you…

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