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Berry Brothers and Rudd have 300 years of experience in London’s wine and spirit trade, so when we heard that they were behind a new gin brand we were intrigued. Billed as “the last word in gin for a Dry Martini,” our first reaction was skepticism. After tasting we believed the hype. This is a boldly juniper flavored gin, but also seems to be a bit more refined than the classic Tanqueray. As advertised, dry martinis are crisp with a spicy character and classic gin cocktails like a Negroni truly shine. John Rankin
Todd Hardie began his career in beekeeping almost 50 years ago in Hardwick, Vermont, in the heart of the Northeast Kingdom. This part of the state is an agricultural hotbed focused on honey, milk, cheese, grains, and herbs with a strong focus on community and respect for the earth. With family distilling roots going back to the 1800s (John and William Hardie of Edinburgh started distilling whiskey in 1857, and the company still produces whiskey today), it’s no wonder that the current generation of Hardies began crafting artisanal spirits in this corner of the world. The Barr Hill Gin contains one notable ingredient that truly sets this spirit apart: raw honey. The raw honey is added just before bottling giving it a uniquely wild, floral nose that changes with each batch as the season dictates where the bees collect their pollen and propolis. It is a touch sweet and the juniper is well-integrated which makes this a unique crossover spirit for those unfamiliar with gin and a new frontier for those already initiated. Tim Gagnon
A recent arrival to the US market! Named for the rural area outside of London in where the distillery is located, Cotswolds Gin went into production in 2014. Nine botanicals undergo 18-hour maceration in a base distillate of wheat and these include juniper, coriander, bay, fresh citrus peel, and black pepper, among others. It is beautifully aromatic – juniper heavy, with cool overtones of balsam, mint, rosemary, cucumber, and lime – but maintains a classic, dry profile on the palate with added lift seemingly from the fresh citrus peel. Green herbs and black pepper creep in on the finish. Very balanced and long, this makes a killer Martini, and it is also un-chillfiltered so it clouds up when cold! Tim Gagnon
Ford’s Gin is a collaboration between Simon Ford of the 86 Co. (a company founded in 2012 working with different distilleries to create bartender-friendly, well-made, workhorse spirits) and 8th generation Master Distiller Charles Maxwell of Thames Distillers in London. It was intended to be a big step up from the other “well” spirits available on the market but offer a fantastic value. Their recipe uses 9 botanicals starting with the classic base of coriander seed and juniper with bitter orange, lemon, and grapefruit peel balanced by jasmine flower, orris root, angelica root, and cassia root. These are steeped in the base spirit for 15 hours before being distilled ensuring a captivating, aromatic finished spirit. This gin is a wonderful play of exotic and spicy aromas mingling with open floral notes on the nose. The palate is full-bodied and dry with citrus oil and a tantalizing spice. This would be perfect for the home mixologist as it could be the base for numerous cocktails. Tim Gagnon
This bottle represents the Gin obsession of Brooklyn native Steven DeAngelo. His distillery is located in the once industrial, now artisanal, north-Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint. Here he uses a still with vacuum technology that allows distillation to occur at a lower temperature. This cooler process results in a gin with surprisingly fresh aromatics and a very bright green coriander note. These flavors are very well expressed in a gin and tonic, but also work well with other herbal spirits like Amaro. John Rankin
This is what I would call a new American classic. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but seemingly pays homage to some London Dry gins that we all know and love, while adding a little something extra. The base spirit is distilled from organic corn, and although all the ingredients aren’t listed, they include crushed juniper berries, lavender, fresh lemon, and orange peels with balancing botanicals of licorice root, angelica root, coriander, and cardamom. On the nose it opens incredibly bright with a citrusy, peppery kick. With time, aromas of blossom, celery, and anise come forward. The palate shows wonderful restraint and allows the roots to balance everything out with a warming cinnamon-like spice, a hint of citrus, and a long, woodsy finish. This would work in almost any gin-based cocktail imaginable (I’d prefer a Martini), and is also fantastic sipped neat. Tim Gagnon
Christian Jensen set out to make perfect, historically correct gins after living in Tokyo. While there he happened upon a gin bar that had an extensive supply of traditional and historical gins that made him curious as to the processes that create such distinctive spirits. Once back in England, he worked with Thames Distillers in London and was able to realize this goal. Alongside his fantastic dry gin, we are happy to showcase his Old Tom gin. These were known in the 1800s to be sweeter, fuller styles of spirits, however Christian was curious as to how economically viable a spirit like this could be during a time when sugar was sold at a premium. After extensive research he found the answer: licorice, a standard component of Old Tom gins during this century. True black licorice contains a component called glycyrrhizin (the sweetening compound derived from licorice root) that is 30 times sweeter than pure sugar. By upping the botanicals during distillation, he was able to create this traditional Old Tom gin. Complex and delicious, Collins drinkers go no further. Tim Gagnon
A fantastic new gin from our friends at Neversink Spirits in Port Chester, NY! Made from a base spirit of apples, wheat, corn, and barley that is distilled in-house; the ingredients include 11 different botanicals. These range from the traditional ingredients of juniper, orris root, and angelica root to provide a bitter, earthy backbone to elderflower, cinnamon, and three types of fresh citrus peel to give it uncompromising lift and freshness. On the nose it is heady and fruit-forward with a botanical persistence and underlying earthy tones. The palate is fuller-bodied and pleasantly viscous with juicy apple character backed by a citrus tang with minerals and a kick of juniper on the finish. This is perfect sipped neat, over ice, and as the basis for many gin cocktails. Tim Gagnon
And now for something completely different… Our friends at New York Distilling under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway are making some of New York’s most delicious gins. The Dorothy Parker, named for the legendarily sharp-tongued wit of New York’s Algonquin Round Table, boasts decidedly American style with un-traditional botanicals like hibiscus and cinnamon. Of course we are talking gin here, so there’s a nice dry juniper kick as well. I think that this makes for a very interesting twist on a gin and tonic. More adventurous home bartenders may want to use it to give the classic gin cocktails a new angle. John Rankin
Allan Katz co-founded the New York Distilling Company with partners Tom and Bill Potter (of the Brooklyn Brewery) in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn in 2011. They set out to create classic gins but with a modern twist and that is exactly what they did. Perry’s Tot pays homage to the naval history of Brooklyn and is named for Matthew Calbraith Perry, who served as Commandant of the Brooklyn Navy Yard from 1841-1843. This Navy Strength Gin is released at 57% ABV (the historical proof at which gunpowder will still ignite if distilled spirit should spill on it) and is delightfully brawny while still being smooth and complex. On the nose it is floral and spicy and there is a nice juniper kick on the palate along with a touch of sweet spice. Try this in a Pink Gin: a simple and historic British Royal Navy cocktail of gin and Angostura bitters! Tim Gagnon