It’s not that one gets bored with whiskey, but, on occasion, the intrigue of a spirits category like gin is too sexy to pass up. On paper.
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to join the Good Ol’ Boys over at Sips, Suds, & Smokes for The Big Gin Show. Tasting over 60 gins in a 24 hour hour period may sound like a good time, but… OK, it was a good time, if not a touch tedious towards the end of a 43-sample session.
We began with a simple premise- dividing our field into London Dry styles and, then, everything else (minus barrel-aged, which we’d be granted an evening of respite before tackling). We did this completely blind, rating each neat sample and jotting down tasting notes. The results, most especially our own, were largely surprising.
For me, a neophyte of the juniper bug, I went in with clear and vocal prejudices. “I don’t like London Dry,” for one. My own scoring sheets and tasting notes would prove me wrong. Very wrong. While we tasted some poor examples of the style, both big name and smaller craft brands, the unapologetically juniper-forward, citrus-tinted, balanced examples of what a gin can be were the clear winners of the overall experiment. What I discovered is that I really enjoy a gin that tastes like, well, GIN.
The much larger field of “everything else” included brands that I’ve represented, so that’s a little unnerving. Certainly a spirit you’ve tasted dozens and dozens of time will be instantly recognizable, right? Maybe. The second guessing is excruciating. Turns out those brands all ranked precisely in the middle. Tasting notes vacillated widely from “rock candy” to “is this moonshine?” to “tinge of vomit on the nose.” Yes, the further down the list, the more entertaining the notes.
With few exceptions, our group of five mainly agreed throughout the tasting. The exceptions were polarizing. But narrowing down the field of 43 to a top 10 was fairly easy task. We talk about these in an hour-long episode of Sips, Suds, & Smokes followed by another hour of our takes on the barreled offerings and a 101 for all the factoids you’ll ever need.
Give these episodes a listen. You’ll definitely get a chuckle or two and just may learn something; I know I did.