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Gin: my new hobby

At the age of 37 I've suddenly realized that I just love gin. I now find the Bees Knees is exactly that. Even a lukewarm gimlet makes me happier than a cold beer, and despite being happily monogamous I get the odd craving for a nice White Lady at a bar.

So I decided to start learning about other gin brands besides Bombay Sapphire and Beefeater, the two I'm most familiar with. First up, a bottle of Plymouth. Very tasty, herbal, and totally different from both BombSaph and Beefeater. But it was so mild! My martini olive positively kicked the Plymouth's ass and had it begging for mercy, and not in a good way.

This raises three questions for the more experienced gin drinkers:

1. is there an adjustment to the Plymouth martini that I should try (obv. I won't repeat the olive bombs)?

2. are there cocktails that play to Plymouth's strengths?

3. other than Bombay Sapphire (which one poster likened to "molten plastic" I think), is there a gin with strong alcohol notes that is good to drink? A take-no-prisoners gin that will smack you upside the head and leave scorch marks from your teeth to your duodenum, that is the kind of gin I'm talking about.

Looking forward to your tasting suggestions.

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  1. While Plymouth is my hands-down favorite gin, you might want to give Junípero a try. It's a gin made by the Anchor Steam brewery and is a bit more agressive than Plymouth. You can find Junípero at Schneider's near Union Station. Still, I prefer Plymouth. However, I drink my martinis extra dry with a lemon twist. Olives seem to always dominate the flavor, regardless of the brand of gin used, so I skip them all together.

    4 Replies
    1. re: FlaHopper

      You must try Hendrick's.....a little difficult to find (BevMo has it, if your area has these outlets) - it has a mellow mouth feel, a slightly floral scent or nose, and a distinctly soft, yet definitely powerful gin taste. It is a fabulous gin - and I think replaced the Sapphire as my favorite. At least for now.

      1. re: Alice Letseat

        Yah, I'm a big fan of Hendrick's. Not only is it a high quality gin, but it's from Scotland. I'm also keen on Sapphire, which was my go-to gin until I was turned on to Plymouth.

      2. re: FlaHopper

        So far so good ... stopped by Schneider's for the first time on my way home (it's on my bike route ... who knew?) and picked up a bottle of Junipero. Haven't tried a Junipero martini yet but it sure tasted great with tonic on a warm day!

        As for the Plymouths martini, apparently I was going about it completely wrong. I was trying like the plague to avoid any ice melt, and now I read that it actually increases the gin flavor to have some water in there. Plymouths was much improved with 60 secs. of stirring rather than a quick shake, and orange bitters instead of the olive. Now if I could just get the orange bitters to float, rather than sink to the bottom ...

        Onward to the other 10 suggestions on this thread. Please somebody tell my office I'll be back sometime in June.

        1. re: fieryredhead

          Stirring the martini also improves the appearance of the drink, because you won't introduce all those broken ice crystals and water, which makes the drink cloudy. Again, I'd ditch the bitters and go with a lemon or orange twist, but if they're to you're liking stick with them.

      3. Woo! Another Gin convert!

        For your martini, I'd recommend ditching the olive and going with a twist. You could also go sans garnish and toss in a few dashes of orange bitters.

        As for smack you upside the head Gin, I'd have to go with Junipero hands down. It's one of my favorite's and is very, well, pretty much everything forward.

        1. If you like Plymouth, you might also want to try Quintessential or Q Gin.

          There seem to many Plymouth Gin fans, but I prefer more character in my Gin.

          I happen to only drink Beefeaters and Bombay Sapphire with Beefeaters being my main brand. I like Bombay because it's a tad bit more on the licorice side.

          FalHopper is right on the money, Junipero will put hair on your chest. It almost like putting a pine scented air freshener directly into your mouth. :) Nah... just kidding, it's pretty good.

          Plymouth and Q gin to me are more like Vodka then gin. I think that if really enjoy gin that you just might slowly start to like the stronger ones after awhile. ;)

          Another interesting gin to at least try is Hendrick's.

          Many people seem to like Gordon's and Seagram's but I find that they are too one dimensional and bland.

          I prefer G&T's myself or as you stated a good gimlet. Or a mix of the two.... my main drink is gin and tonic with a splash of Rose's lime juice.

          1. Had to pop back in as I forgot to also recommend giving Blue Coat a try. It's not as in your face as Junipero, but has a really nice peppery finish that's quite nice.

            Also, for a drink that suits Plymouth you might want to try a Vesper. I find that it's soft enough to let the Lillet Blanc come through nicely, but still has enough botanical oomph to make a nice compliment.

            1. Here in Portland, Oregon we have a very nice small-production gin called Aviator. Don't know where you're located, or how far they distribute, but its worth seeking out.

              1. Wow! An excellent question -- I just got into gin recently myself, and I'm rather fond of Bombay Sapphire. I branched out and tried Hendrick's & Tanqueray Rangpur, but I find them very weak and unflavourful after getting my socks knocked off getting acclimated to Bombay Sapphire.
                I'm guessing I'll try Junipero & G Vin next... but I do think I might always go back to Bombay Sapphire even though that was the first I've ever really tried.

                Has anyone tried DH Krahn? I have to admit, the packaging is kind of appealing to me (and its made in the area i grew up in!).

                1 Reply
                1. re: dandandan

                  I like Krahn, a very nicely made gin in the lighter style. I have met the creators several times and we email back and forth occasionally. They originally came up with the idea as a college business course project. Then after graduation developed it further.

                  Here's my thoughts, please ignore any typos that got past the editor.

                2. I Love Gin. I love the taste. I love, love, love the smell. Right now, I have in my bar bottles of Junipero, Plymouth, Hendricks, Tanquerey, and Tanquerey Ten. The other posters are right about Junipero--the flavor is very strong. From your post, I would recommend you try that one.

                  While all of the gins I mentioned are very good, my favorite is probably Tanquerey Ten.

                  1. What proportion martini did you make with Plymouth? Very dry works best, around 6/7:1, as does a lemon or grapefruit twist. I am pretty sure that historically a lemon twist is the proper garnish for a martini, olives came about probably 50 or more years later.

                    Well made and strongly flavored? Bluecoat, Aviation, Back River, Rehorst, South, North Shore No. 6, G'Vine, any Genever (Dutch malt liquor based gin, the original kind), and many more. Just start trying them, preferably on the rocks with a splash of water to bring out the botanicals.

                    Here's a link to all things Gin at Slashfood, you will find 50 or more of my thoughts in gin. I only stand behind what I write and can't speak for the others.


                    1. You should try to find a bottle of Broker's.. I picked up a bottle recently, 94 proof and very junipery.

                      1. Recently I picked up a bottle of Plymouth with a drawing of an English warship (or ship of similar sorts). Did I get a very old bottle of Plymouth, or a very new bottle of Plymouth. I was under the assumption the art-deco bottle was all they made.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: rifkind81

                          The silly art deco bottle is about a year old. The other, old style bottle/label with the ship is the original since it was revived in 1996/97, it is a redesign of the older bottles/labels. Plymouth gin wasn't doing well from the 70's until four entrepreneur's bought it privately and resuscitated it in '96. The new bottle can be blamed on the V&S Group, the owners of Absolut, who bought out Plymouth in a series of events between 2000 and 2005.

                        2. Here's another vote for Hendrick's. I find it has interesting layers of flavor. I saw their ad the other day for the first time and it describes it as "featuring curious, yet marvelous infusions of cucumber and rose petal." Who knew? What a hilariously precious description, but its tag line is fantastic: "It's an unusual world, drink appropriately."

                          1. I'm not a huge Gin guy, but I just picked up a bottle of Old R'a'j, and I think it's very nice. Anybody else care for this Gin?

                            1. I was a Sapphire drinker for years, but ever since I tried Martin Miller's Gin I haven't looked back. Their Westbourne Strength is really stellar, too.

                              1. Yep: Gin'll make you grin!

                                1. What is your opinion of tanqueray. I alway thought bombay sapphire was fairly weak especially compared to tanq. I like plymouth because It is not so high alcohol like tanqueray. Much easier to sip on the rocks or with a dash of bitters

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: quazi

                                    I prefer Tanqueray with tonic, Plymouth in a martini.

                                    1. re: quazi

                                      Regular Tanqueray is an excellent classic London Dry Gin. I don't care for T-10 or Rangpur.

                                      1. re: JMF

                                        I agree completely. Tanqueray is a great classic gin; true to form. T10 and Rangpur are both so heavily flavored - your not really drinking GIN anymore.
                                        But then, that is how I am feeling about a lot of the new 'gins'. None of them taste like gin anymore. It seems like everyone has gone soft to appeal to the vodka crowd.

                                        1. re: B_F

                                          BF- It's not that they don't taste like gin anymore. In fact they are more true to the original styles. But they are not the lighter and dryer London Dry style that came about relatively recently.

                                          I'd say the big gins aren't for the vodka crowd, but for those who like big and bold flavors full of botanicals. The vodka crowd likes the lighter, almost tasteless gins.

                                          Some of the newer gins that "has gone soft to appeal to the vodka crowd" are Bulldog, Gale Force, the elegant DH Krahn, and most especially Bafferts which is so light it's almost vodka, and a few others on the lighter side but not as light like Desert Juniper.

                                          1. re: JMF

                                            I don't know that I agree. I'm a big Plymouth and Bombay Sapphire fan, but I tried Bulldog and G'Vine for the first time recently. I thought the Bulldog was really good. The G'Vine though. Well, true to it's name, it tasted like grape vines. And I've never had a dry martini and though, "Man this would be even better if only it tasted like vine. I encountered a similar strange taste with Rogue's Spruce gin. I love Rogue beer, but I thought I was crewing on an air freshener.

                                            Again, Bulldog was solid.

                                      2. re: quazi

                                        I think if you were to taste test Sapphire, Tanqueray and Beefeaters you would find that they are all very very close in character, depth and flavor. Sapphire to me is more on the licorice side of flavor and Tanqueray on the juniper side and Beefeaters somewhere between. But I wouldn't say that anyone of them was "weaker" then the other taste wise.

                                        1. re: theginguy

                                          I disagree. Regular Bombay and Beefeaters are in the same style, London Dry, but quite a bit different. Sapphire is one of the bigger and more highly flavored gins and really is very different in taste. It isn't as big as say Aviation, Rehorst, Rangpur, or Back River, but pretty fulll flavored and definitely sweeter.

                                        2. re: quazi


                                          Bombay Sapphire is 94 proof, Tanqueray is 82.6 proof, Plymouth is 82.4 proof.

                                          The difference in strength between Plymouth and Tanqueray is negligible, and Sapphire is a tiny bit stronger, not weaker, than Tanqueray.

                                          The differences aren't in the strength, but in the style and botanicals.

                                        3. There is a Mexican made gin,Orso Negro or Black Bear, that is strong enough to blow your shoes off as well as your socks.

                                          1. Has anyone tried Monoplowa (probably spelled wrong) Vienna Dry gin. The base for this is Monopolowa Vodka, which is made from potatoes. I like their Vodka. It's drinkable and the price is good. Disclaimer here. I think Vodka is either good or bad, with no noticable difference between the moderately priced Vodkas and the expensive ones.
                                            The gin is sort of middle of the road priced. A little less than Beefeaters.
                                            The guy at the liquor store was really high on it, saying the potatoes really bring out a nice flavor in the botanicals, which sounded like marketing to me. I almost bought some, but I like London Dry style (90% of the time in a G&T), and decided to wait.
                                            So, anyone try this yet?

                                            1. A story in the Science section of today's New York Times states that a recent study says that gin, along with red wine and beer, promotes heart health. Damn, now we've got all bases covered!

                                              1. No votes for Boodles? I drank it years ago and still occasionally find it in local liquor stores; I read recently that it was voted best gin by in Wine Spectator (I think); it's really cheap. And nobody loves that serene blue Magellen's? It makes such a beautiful martini. I also like Millers.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: zenana

                                                  I love Boodles. It's very "Ginny" - for want of a better term. Seriously, it's good stuff. Another very good gin on the pricier side is Old Raj. It has saffron in the recipe and a light golden hue.

                                                2. If you are looking for bonce for the ounce. Seagram's Distiller's Reserve is a good choice at 102 proof. It does not have the botanicals taste of a Beefeaters or a Tank but is good with a high alcohol content.