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Whitley Neill London Dry Gin - thoughts?

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I just found this gin in my LCBO, and it has been discontinued so if I ever want to try it, the time is now. It's just slightly more expensive than Plymouth, which in the LCBO pricing structure sometimes represents a noticeable jump in quality. Does anybody out there know if it's any good? It's easier to resist dipping into my Hendricks stash if I've got something tasty and cheaper kicking around. Worth snatching up before it's gone, or should I just stick with my old familiars?

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  1. I've come across mention of the stuff while trying to get info on other gins. Supposed to be exotic, with African botanicals. It did well in the '07 tastings. Double Gold in SF, best in class at IWSC, "Exceptional" at BTI Chigaco. Seems to have dropped off the charts since then, but it's a fair bet it doesn't suck.

    1. We haven't formally tasted this one (yet) but Alanbarnes is right: this thing has picked up some nice awards along the way. It's placed silver in the last two years at San Francisco and was in the 90-95 range for Wine Enthusiasts this year.

      The scores are good but not superlative mostly because it's considered an "other" kind of gin. Instead of the very traditional, juniper, and dry that comes with stuff like Plymouth and Tanqueray, it's a more modern taste based upon this African fruit they put in botanicals called a baobab fruit. I have no idea what it actually is--one of those things wikipedia doesn't explain very well. But it gives the gin a different flavor and the pros often don't like different.

      But since you're into Hendricks--itself considered a different kind of gin--I think you should give it a shot. It should compete with a lot of the craft-distilled modern gins like North Shore or Bluecoat.

      7 Replies
      1. re: proof66

        Thanks for the feedback, alan and proof...sounds like it's worth investigating. I'll have to make it back over before it disappears - it looks like there's still a fair amount of stock around town.

        1. re: Wahooty

          So I found myself in the neighborhood today, and decided to pick up a bottle - I wasn't going to buy it the day I found it because I already had a bottle of Brokers and a bottle of Hendrick's around the house, and thought it was silly to buy a third bottle when I knew nothing about it. Oh, the persuasive allure of an exotic spirit that has been discontinued by the LCBO...anyway, I did a little side-by-side tasting of the three. I have to say that I think "different" gin is really my thing - the Neill wasn't quite as good as Hendrick's, but it was awfully close. Considering it is $12 cheaper here, I absolutely consider it a good buy, and I definitely prefer it to something more straight juniper like Plymouth (although I do like Plymouth as well). The Neill has a very strong citrus kick to it that I quite like, I just like the balance of the Hendricks better overall. I could see this making a really delicious martini, though.

          Anyway, I think I might have to lay in an extra bottle or two before it sells out. Here's hoping they'll re-continue it next summer, when G&T season kicks in again...

          1. re: Wahooty

            Awesome...

            I like the new "modern" or "different" gins myself. I've really been turned on by the craft-distilled stuff coming out of the mom-and-pop stores in the States. I mentioned Bluecoat Gin above... it actually won the 2009 San Francisco Spirits Competition as "Best Gin" but is also considered to be a modern gin. Made by the Philadelphia Distilling Company so it may be hard to find outsie the east coast. But wherever you happen to live, there's probably some craft distilling going on if you happen to look. Those guys are always trying out different notions.

            Then again, you've got a gin you like, hard to give it up. Most people I know are VERY particular about their gin.

            1. re: proof66

              Unfortunately, I live in Toronto, and our Ontario provincial monopoly stores aren't known for providing great variety, and certainly not of anything made in small batches in the States. They'll sometimes bring in things like this, but once it's discontinued, there's no guarantee it'll ever come back. That, combined with the fact that this seems to be a rare sweet spot where our price is actually comparable to the prices south of the border, is why I'm tempted to hoard a bit before it goes the way of the dodo up here.

              There's a reason I ask my dad for bourbon in my Christmas stocking every year. ;)

              1. re: Wahooty

                Ugh... we have a few states that operate like that. Though I think things are starting to loosen up.

                Some of our states allow shipment... are you able to purchase over the internet? That's how some people I know in Pennsylvania get craft-distilled stuff.

                There are a couple of neat little distilleries opening up in Canada. For example, Prince Edward Potato Vodka (http://www.princeedwarddistillery.com) looks interesting and might be available up in your northern area. Also, Polar Ice Vodka from Corby Distilleries is Canadian and doing some new and interesting thing with vodka.

                --Neal (Proof66)

                1. re: proof66

                  The only way to get it shipped, to my knowledge, is to order it through the LCBO. Bureaucratic red tape AND import duties, oh my! You would think we'd be able to get things like vodka from PEI, but so far, it's a no-go. We even have a hard time getting beers from Quebec - only one province over.

                  I'm originally from Virginia, so I'm used to the state-monopoly thing, but I buy things at the VA ABC stores to bring home to Ontario. I find our system here incredibly frustrating, especially for an American girl who likes her bourbon.

                  1. re: Wahooty

                    Yikes... I'm so sorry. If I could send you a bottle as a gift, I would.

                    I love bourbon so much... I can't even think of life without it. And now the ryes are coming! And they're good too!