A BourbonGuy Look at Random Gins

Two of the gins featured in this article were sent along by the producers as part of a previously disclosed review sample. They are Filibuster Dual Cask Gin and Tommyrotter Cask Strength Bourbon Barrel Gin. I would like to thank both companies for providing these samples with no strings attached.

So. Gin?

Gin?

Yeah. Gin.

Do I know anything about gin? Not really. I know that last summer I read an old article by David Wondrich on the origin of the Gin Rickey. I know that gin is neutral spirit (essentially vodka, don’t @ me) flavored with juniper and other botanicals. I know that gin cannot legally be “aged” or have an age statement, though it can be “rested” or “finished” in a barrel for an undisclosed amount of time. I know that a lot of my non-whiskey drinking friends tend to favor gin. And I know that last statement is why I had a few different bottles in my house last year when I read that previously mentioned David Wondrich article and decided that a Gin Rickey sounded like a fantastically refreshing summer drink.

So I made one using the gins I keep on hand for friends. I loved it. Of course, I’d already made the occasional gin and tonic so I wasn’t a stranger to the combination of citrus and gin. But something about the dry quality of of the Rickey struck me as exactly what I would want on a warm summer afternoon. It is actually now my go to drink when I’m sitting on the deck in the warm summer weather.

Ok so here I am with a gin drink that I really like. As you do, I decided to expand my uses for gin. First I moved over to a Tom Collins. Super easy, but I liked the Rickey better. Then I tried a Negroni, I’d made one before and found it kinda meh, but fell in love with a riff where I swap the vermouth with Averna. (I’m thinking that maybe I just don’t like vermouth.)

Of course, being the obsessive geek that I am, I needed to find out which gins I liked best. I mean how could I live with myself if I was enjoying a decent gin in my rickey when an amazing one was out there for the drinking? And just for the hell of it, I decided to bring you along for the ride.

A BourbonGuy Look at Random Gins

The ones I ended up with were a mixture of gins I had on hand because of friends, those I ran across at craft distillers and a couple that had been sent to me by craft distillers who had provided them to me along with whiskies that they wanted me to review. The lineup is as follows.

Beefeater

Details: Owned by Pernod Ricard. Flavored with: juniper, lemon peel, coriander seed, almond, seville orange peel, orris root, licorice root, angelica root, and angelica seed according to the Beefeater website. 47% ABV

BourbonGuy Notes:

Nose: Juniper, Lemon zest, mint, faint baking spice.
Mouth: Lemon Zest, mint and spice, juniper.
Finish: almost sweet, after a bit a hint of lemon.
Thoughts: Not nearly as juniper forward as I would expect from the nose.

Beefeater 24

Details: Owned by Pernod Ricard. Flavored with: Japanese sencha, Chinese green tea, grapefruit peels, juniper, lemon peel, almond, seville orange peel, coriander seed, orris root, licorice root, angelica root, and angelica seed according to the Beefeater website. 45% ABV

BourbonGuy Notes:

Nose: Juniper, mint, lemon zest. (softer than Beefeater)
Mouth: Mixed citrus, mint, there is an herbal note.
Finish: Minty with a little juniper.
Thoughts: Considering how similar the nose on the 2 Beefeaters are, I'm actually surprised how different they are. I like how spicy this one is.

Hendrick’s

Details: Owned by William Grand & Sons. Flavored with: orris root, yarrow, angelica root, orange peel, juniper, caraway seeds, cubeb berries, lemon peel, chamomile, elderflower, coriander seeds, rose petal, cucumber according to the Hendrick’s website. 44% ABV

BourbonGuy Notes:

Nose: Juniper, mint
Mouth: Spicy with a lot of juniper
Finish: long juniper finish
Thoughts: This is my least favorite so far. It is very juniper forward and I don't care for the spices I'm getting. I don’t get any cucumber.

Bombay Sapphire

Details: Owned by Bacardi. Flavored with: juniper, lemon peel, coriander, angelica root, orris, grains of paradise, cubeb berries, cassia bark, almond and licorice according to the Bombay Sapphire website. 47% ABV

BourbonGuy Notes:

Nose: Savory, Coriander, old dry wood, hints of juniper.
Mouth: lemon, cinnamon, Coriander
Finish: mint, hints of juniper. after a while-distinct lemon
Thoughts: This is a tasty gin. Not the "pine trees" stereotype of non-gin drinkers at all. I could almost drink this one straight... almost.

Vikre Boreal Juniper Gin

Details: Craft distillery in Duluth Minnesota. Flavored with a combination of foraged wild botanicals and traditional gin botanicals according to their website. 45% ABV

BourbonGuy Notes:

Nose: Black pepper.
Mouth: Flat and muted in the mouth.
Finish: Mint, juniper, lemon.
Thoughts: This is pretty flavorless until the finish. It isn't unpleasant, there is just little to draw me in when tasted neat.

Filibuster Dual Cask

Details: Craft distillery in Maurertown, Virginia. Finished in both American and French oak casks. 45% ABV

BourbonGuy Notes:

Nose: Savory, Rosemary and a touch of juniper
Mouth: Thin mouthfeel. Savory Basil.
Finish: Long-lasting lemon, oak, hints of juniper.
Thoughts: This isn't bad at all. The basil notes are interesting (in a good way).

New Riff Kentucky Wild Bourbon Barreled Gin

Details: Craft distillery in Newport, Kentucky. Flavored with: angelica, orris and licorice root, and three kinds of citrus, wild juniper berry, American Spicebush, goldenrod, Rye Whiskey New Make. Finished in used bourbon barrels for 5-7 months. 47% ABV

BourbonGuy Notes:

Nose: Juniper, orange peel , just a hint of smoke
Mouth: Sweet, juniper, orange
Finish: lemon pledge
Thoughts: I want to like this a lot more than I do. That lemon pledge finish kills it.

Tommyrotter Cask Strength Bourbon-Barrel Gin

Details: Craft distillery in Buffalo, New York. Finished in new, charred American White Oak barrels. 61% ABV

BourbonGuy Notes:

Nose: Mint, caramel, ginger.
Mouth: Cinnamon, lemon, ginger,
Finish: ginger, molasses, touch of juniper
Thoughts: This is really good. As a bourbonguy, this is the only one I would drink neat.

Cocktails

So, now that we have the tasting notes out of the way, let’s get down to the reason why I actually had them in the house to begin with: cocktails. My wife and I tried each of these in three cocktails. A standard Negroni, a Tom Collins, and of course my beloved Gin Rickey. It really shouldn’t be, but I found it a bit interesting to see the differences in each of these. Especially when comparing tasting notes (neat) to the flavors I got in each cocktail. But instead of going over all the tasting notes again, I’m just going to give you our “rankings” for how much we liked each spirit in each cocktail.

Negroni (equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari)

Eric’s: Tommyrotter, New Riff, Beefeater, Vikre, Bombay Sapphire, Beefeater 24, Fillibuster, Hendrick’s

My wife’s: Bombay Sapphire, Beefeater 24/Beefeater (tied), Vikre, Tommyrotter, New Riff, Filibuster, Hendrick’s

Thoughts: Not at all surprising that I preferred the aged spirits in this cocktail, the barrel aging makes it taste like a cross between a typical Negroni and a Boulevardier. A bit surprising that my wife preferred the London Dry style since she was very resistant to participating in this tasting at all based entirely on previous experience with that style when she was younger.

Tom Collins (gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and soda water)

Eric’s: Beefeater, Beefeater 24, Bombay Sapphire, Vikre, Hendrick’s, New Riff, Filibuster

My wife’s: Beefeater, Beefeater 24, Bombay Sapphire, Hendrick’s, Vikre, New Riff, Filibuster.

Thoughts: we basically agreed here. The London Dry style was our favorite.

Gin Rickey (gin, lime juice and soda water)

Eric’s: Beefeater 24, Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire, Hendrick’s, Vikre, New Riff, Filibuster

My wife’s: Bombay Sapphire, Beefeater 24, Beefeater, Vikre, Hendrick’s, New Riff, Filibuster.

Thoughts: The two Beefeaters were my winners. Which is awesome since Beefeater is the cheapest one in the lineup. My wife has more expensive tastes and preferred the Bombay Sapphire. Neither of us were high on the barrel aged versions.

Conclusions

So based on these “oh so scientific” tests, it seems that in the summer I need to keep only a Beefeater or two and a bottle of Bombay Sapphire on hand. I’m going to pass on the Hendrick’s from now on. I was not a fan. It also seems that for these summer drinks there is little to be gained from venturing into Craft territory as any differences they are playing with are lost in my favorite cocktail. On the other hand, when the weather starts to cool and I am looking for a more spirit-forward cocktail, I should certainly venture over to the Craft gins and look for a barrel aged version to use in the occasional Negroni.

There you have it: A BourbonGuy Look at Random Gins. Will gin fans agree on my conclusions? Maybe, maybe not. I admit, I am a total gin novice. But honestly, I found it too interesting not to share. Especially with other bourbon lovers who may be looking to expand their range into a refreshing long drink for summer.


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Stolen X Rock & Rye

I’d like to thank Ro-Bro Marketing & PR, Inc. for providing this review sample to me with no strings attached.

I knew next to nothing about Stolen Spirits when I accepted the request to send me a sample of their new Stolen X brand of rock and rye. I love rock and rye. It is one of those things that I love to have around for when I want a cocktail, but I’m feeling too lazy to make myself one. Unfortunately, if I have it around, I’m always too lazy to make a cocktail and just end up drinking the bottled stuff instead. One of these days I’m just going to have to make my own. I already make my own boozy cherries and my own orange bitters, why not a bottled cocktail too?

So even though, I knew next to nothing about the brand that was putting out this particular rock and rye, I did know enough about rock and rye to take a flier on it. I mean, I’ve had plenty of bad liquor that is marketed for consumption as a shot (most of it, I’ve poured straight down the drain), but I’ve seldom had a bad rock and rye. So after I said yes to the sample, I got down to Googling.

That’s one of the services we at BourbonGuy.com provide to our readers, we Google so you don’t have to. Here is what they have to say about themselves on their Facebook page:

“Our history is simple and grounded in one fact: We like to party. Our brand was born from two Kiwis sick of their day jobs, a need to escape and the love of a good time.”

And in the press release for the Rock and rye they say:

“Humans have been drinking horrible shots since the discovery of fermentation,” said Marc Bushala, CEO of Spirits Investment Partnership. “There has not been much evolution from the swill that we hoisted in college to what people are shooting today. I don’t really recall why we did shots of a certain herbaceous concoction that looks and tastes like shoe polish, but I remember that we drank a lot of it. The main difference with the popular shot brands today is the use of artificial flavors and sweeteners to make bad booze more palatable - we think that people will love great rye whiskey blended with all natural ingredients that actually tastes good.”

I don’t know about you, but I can get behind all of that. So now that we know just a little about the product, we should probably focus on the most important thing: how does it taste?

Stolen X Rock & Rye

Purchase Info: This review sample was graciously provided to me by Ro-Bro Marketing & PR, Inc. for review purposes. Suggested retail price is $24.99 for a 750 mL bottle with plans to release a liter bottle for $29.99 and 100 mL cans for $2.99 this summer.

Details: Rock and rye bottled cocktail, 40% ABV.

Nose: A lot of orange on the nose plus cinnamon.

Month: Orange oil, cinnamon and honey.

Finish: Lingering orange

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Thoughts: You can tell this was intended to be served over ice. I tasted it neat in a Glencairn first just so that there would be a baseline between this and other reviews. On its own it is very sweet and orange forward. But, when you serve it over ice as they recommend, the rye notes move more to the forefront and the finish is more enjoyable as the dilution allows a bit more spice to show. This is a pretty delicious orange cocktail. I'm a fan.


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products and bourbon-related craft supplies I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. And hey, if you are an iOS user, look for Bourbon Guy in Apple News. Thanks!

My Wandering Eye...Hennessy V.S.O.P. Privilège Cognac

My Wandering Eye is a series reacting to the crazy rising prices in the bourbon world. We’ve reached a place where even average products have hit the range where they compete price-wise with other types of aged spirits. If I’m going be asked to drop $40 to $70 on a mid-range bourbon, I might as well see what else I can get for that money. My hope is to see if another spirits category offers something that is downright tasty in that price range. The goal isn’t to find cheap spirits, but to maximize the quality, I’m getting at a particular price point. And one thing to remember is that these reviews will all be written from the perspective of a bourbon drinker.

I have a weird fascination with alcohol holiday gift sets. In December, I will happily buy spirits that I would have just walked past at any other time of year because they come with a glass. In other words, their marketing gambit works on me. This year I bought two Woodford Reserve Gift Sets because they came with a beautiful glass (even though I have so many glasses that I am considering donating some of mine to local charity thrift stores). I also bought the Gift Set for Hennessy V.S.O.P.

I normally have a bottle of Hennessy V.S. on hand for cocktails due to the fact that it is inexpensive, ubiquitous and plays well with others in a cocktail. But as I was walking through the liquor store looking for a Christmas gift for my father, I noticed the gift set for Hennessy V.S.O.P. Privilège Cognac. It had a cute Art Deco design and had the recipe for a Cognac Sazerac on the back of the box. Plus it came with a large cocktail mixing beaker. That sold me. I‘d been using a pint glass with a beer logo for years to mix our cocktails and the thought of having an actual dedicated mixing glass made me feel all fancy. Plus, it would give me the opportunity to try the next step up of my house cocktail cognac.

And yes, I am the kind of guy who goes shopping for a gift and makes sure to bring home a gift for me as well.

Hennessy V.S.O.P. Privilège Cognac

Purchase Info: ~$75 for a 750 mL bottle gift set at Lakeville Liquor, Lakeville, MN

Details: 40% ABV

Nose: Raisin, apple, cardamom, and a slight mint.

Mouth: Thin mouthfeel. Dried apple and a hint of mint.

Finish: Short and gentle with lingering dried fruit and cardamom.

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Thoughts: This makes a good cocktail base. But as you can see above, I bought it in December and still haven’t finished the bottle so I am not reaching for it as a neat pour. It isn’t bad, but compared to the other brandies on my shelf, it is just a little meh.

I love the mixing glass though…


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. And if you are an iOS user, look for Bourbon Guy in Apple News. Thanks!