Gins You Should Drink

Gin is an interesting spirit in that there are people that love it (cough, cough Ofkie) and those who have had a bad experience with it. Despite having a few gangry moments (gin + angry = gangry), I do love gin. Since Saturday is World Gin Day and I spent the better part of Thursday writing gin tasting notes. Here are a couple of my favorite gins that should be readily available in most areas in the US.

A San Francisco Treat

No. 209 (about $37/750ml) is the creative effort of the Rudd family who own both Rudd Oakville Estate Winery and Dean & Deluca. With a background in wine and fine food, their attention to detail really shines in this wonderful small-batch gin. From the beginning, the Rudd’s goal was to make the finest possible gin that reflects the heritage of small batch hand-crafted distilling. Wine Enthusiast gave this gin a 90-95 point ranking.

No. 209 is vastly different from the juniper-heavy gins of the past, it opens with an aromatic nose of citrus and floral notes with just a hint of spiciness. At first sip, one notices the citrus high notes. A careful and slow taste will allow the delicate floral notes to emerge. Mid palate, there is a pepper-like warmth from the cardamom and juniper. The finish is full of warm spice notes.

I have been known to enjoy No. 209 both neat and in cocktails. A couple of my favorites are the 209 Snow Cone, the Left Coaster and Rosemary Night.

This Gin is the Bee’s Knees

Barr Hill Gin (about $38/750ml) is a favorite because of the subtle addition of honey to this gin. This is a very easy drinking gin – perfect for gin novices. Caledonia Spirits makes this gin (and a pretty amazing vodka) in Vermont. Todd Hardie is the distiller but has also been a beekeeper for almost 40 years. In 2013, Barr Hill Gin won the gold medal at the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Competition.

Barr Hill Gin has a sweet and very mild juniper note on the nose. The taste is simple and elegant. The first sip is very smooth and then a sudden a bouquet of almost floral sweetness hits you. The juniper shows itself next, but in a way that isn’t too sharp or harsh. After the spike of the juniper, you enjoy the classic gin drying sensation that leaves a lingering but almost “pine after a summer rain” note — cut again by a subtle sweetness. The honey plays its role as a rounding agent, by every so slightly sweeting this gin to cut the edge of the juniper without diminishing it.

Caledonia Spirits website has an amazing cocktail list but my favorite is the basil-infused Green Bumble Bee.

Gin Perfect for Your Gin and Tonic

Wine Enthusiast has rated St. George’s Spirits Botanivore Gin (about $35/750ml) a 93. In my opinion, that rating is a tad low. This is a dynamite gin and perfect for any mixologist.

This gin is loaded with botanicals. Loaded. Super herbaceous and wonderful, it reminds me of a Sauvignon Blanc with all the ‘green-ness” that a good SB has. The nineteen botancials are: angelica root, bay laurel, bergamot peel, black peppercorn, caraway, cardamom, cilantro, cinnamon, citra hops, coriander, dill seed, fennel seed, ginger, juniper berries, lemon peel, lime peel, orris root, Seville orange peel, and star anise. Notice that there is cilantro in this spirit. That delicious herb can turn a few of you off.

My pals love it in their G&T’s, but it is fabulous in so many other mixed drinks. I have been raving about St. George’s Spirits Botanivore Gin in the Stone and the Flower cocktail, Your Daily Value, and Pomegranate Gin Smash.

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