London Dry

Review: Roku Japanese Craft Gin by Jason Hambrey

Roku Gin 1.jpg
ABV
43%
Aging
None
Recipe
N/A
Producer Suntory (Liquor Atelier, Osaka, Japan)

This gin is made from 8 traditional botanicals (juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, angelica seed, cardamom, cinnamon, lemon peel, bitter orange peel) to which 6 botanicals are added to highlight all the season in Japan - sakura cherry leaf and sakura cherry blossom for the sping, sencha and gyokuro tea for the summer, sansho pepper for the fall, and yuzu peel for the winter. As Suntory is apt to do, the bottle is 6 sided to denote these 6 core seasonal components.

Suntory first started making gin in 1936 with an old tom gin called "Hermes gin". This, however, is a very modern gin launched in 2017. The exported edition sits at 43%, while the Japanese domestic version sits at 47%.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2018

Juniper and lemon peel lie at the centre of a richly spicy nose. But it’s more than just baking spices – it is actually peppery with spicy notes. Coriander ties the citrus and the spice together, and it has some very nice high floral notes on the nose too. The palate starts off woody and spicy (nice coriander spice) before slowly heating up to peppercorn and chilli, with juniper and a drying tannic finish a bit like tea. The tea notes really develop on the finish – quite nice.

It is very well balanced – great floral top notes, great citrus, a nice array of spices and teas underneath, and light woodiness. Perhaps to convey more clearly: I’ve never had a gin (or spirit) which so delicately and appropriately linked floral, citrus, spicy, woody, and deep vegetal (i.e. tea) flavours together. The nose alone is worth significant effort – how often is that true for a gin? It’s the best gin I’ve tasted to date (to drink neat). Even better at higher ABV.

Assessment: Exceptional.


Review: Broker's London Dry Gin by Jason Hambrey

Broker's London Dry.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
None
Recipe
N/A
Producer Broker's (Birmingham, England)

Broker's a gin which is made from wheat, distilled 5 times in a pot still, in contrast to most large gin brands which are column distilled. It is made with 10 botanicals sourced worldwide: Macedonian juniper berries, Bulgarian coriander seed, Italian orris root,  Indian nutmeg, Indonesian cassia bark, cinnamon from Seychelles, Italian licorice root, Spanish orange and lemon peel, and Polish angelica root. Though the distillery itself is quite old, the brand itself began in the 1990s.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2018

Spicy, but still juniper-centric. Cinnamon, dried orange peel, toffee (but not sweet) – quite a vivid and floral nose compared to many commercial gins. The palate continues with many of the spicy notes: cinnamon and nutmeg playing off coriander, juniper and citrus peel. The finish is citrusy and spicy, not that long but not too short either.

I love this gin. It has an incredible rich spicy characteristic to it, full of incense notes, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I’ve done blind tastings and adored it – it sits at the top of my „highly recommended” category for gins. If it were higher proof I think it would do even better (there is a 47% version available, though I haven't tried it). A staple in my cabinet – I love it neat and in cocktails.

Assessment: Highy Recommended.


Review: Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin by Jason Hambrey

Bombay Sapphire.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
None
Recipe
N/A
Producer Bacardi

After prohibition, complicated cocktails took a backseat to simpler drinks with fewer ingredients. Gin and tonics were popular, but largely with the upper class and tonic water was expensive - though President Kennedy liked a G&T which helped encourage its sophistication. The second world war hit a number of distilleries, and in the 1960s and 1970s vodka rose to immense popularity. In 1987, Bombay Sapphire launched and perhaps launched the era of modern gin - the bottle was presented in bottle that stood out - blue, with all 10 botanicals clearly listed. It was the first gin to use a vapour infusion process, whereby the spirit was flavoured by the botanicals through vapour infusion. This process sets the botanicals in copper baskets in the still through which the alcohol steam passes on its way up the still, as opposed to steeping, where botanicals are soaked in the spirit or beer before distillation is complete. This imparts a more delicate flavour - the focus, itself, was different - The gin's profile was more citrusy than other London Drys before it, and it started to move away from juniper-heavy gins.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2018

Toffee, orange peel, a slight soapiness, and a slightly rough around the edges grainy character. The palate is slightly sweet, with a grainy „feel” to it – but light juniper, slight spice, and citrus. Relatively light, with a light „essences” rather than full-bodied infusions (to clarify, they use whole botanicals, not „essence”). Finish is sweet, with a touch of pepper coming forward and developing to citrus with a slight drying sensation.


Review: Beefeater 24 London Dry Gin by Jason Hambrey

Beefeater 24 2.jpg
ABV
45%
Aging
None
Recipe
N/A
Producer Pernod Ricard

A premium Beefeater's gin, with more botanicals and a bit more "modern" in style than the baseline beefeater gin. It comes in at 45%, so is more flavorful than the 40% baseline version. When I initially explored gin a few years ago, this was one of my favourites (before the bottle went red...) - but I still like it and it's one of my favourites to have on hand for good mixing.

The name is a bit deceptive. You might think it is because of 24 botanicals, but it is because of a 24 hour infusion process of 12 botanicals including grapefruit peel, chinese tea, and japanese tea. The use of tea was inspired from a trip to Japan by Beefeater's master distiller, where quinine was banned and the bitter complement of gin, tonic, was not available. To introduce bitterness, green tea was used in cocktails, which inspired its use as a direct component of the gin.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2018

The nose is juniper-centric, as would be expected, but it’s surrounded with an immense amount of complexity – all sorts of citrus (lemon, grapefruit, orange), light spices, and coriander. The palate is balanced, with a nice balance of sweetness against assertive citrus and peppery spice. Finish is light, with medium body, but short. Complexity is very well balanced and integrated – a classic gin.

Assessment: Highly Recommended.


Review: Beefeater London Dry Gin by Jason Hambrey

Beefeater 1.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
None
Recipe
N/A
Producer Pernod Ricard

Another massive gin brand owned by Pernod Ricard, this brand emerged with the advent of the continuous still which enabled efficient, consistent production of gin styles which didn't need sugar to cover anything up (as some of the Old Tom styles required). Old Tom slowly faded to the background as this newer, cleaner "strong" or unsweetened style of London Dry emerged. James Burrough founded Beefeater in 1863, following Alexander Gordon and Charles Tanqueray in establishing large scale production gins which were exported around the world. This gin is made with nine botanicals.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: LKMM0604 2018/02/15 09:59
  • Bottling Date: ~2018

Classic and definitive: Juniper, citrus, and the zestier rather than the spicier side of coriander. A slight biscuity aroma to it as well. The palate is clean and spicy, coming in waves: first sweet juniper, then spicy coriander and spicy tree bark, and then finishing with mixed pepper and a rising sweetness. Not bad, but nothing special either.


Review: Tanqueray Export Strength London Dry Gin by Jason Hambrey

Tanqueray Export Strength.jpg
ABV
47.3%
Aging
None
Recipe
N/A
Producer Diageo

Another gin to emerge during the boom of London Dry gins in the 1830s, Tanqueray was founded by Charles Tanqueray and is made with just four botanicals - juniper, coriander, angelica, and licorice root. This is a higher strength version compared to the standard 40%. Coincidentally, export strength is Air Canada's standard gin offering on flights.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2018

A somewhat intense nose of juniper and orange, and a light graininess seemingly from the alcohol. It’s fairly light, but it’s balanced. It has quite an intense juniper quality to it compared to most big commercial gins. On the taste, it has a nice rich flavor – spicy and piney, with underpinning sweetness – the 47% helps along quite a bit. Finish is juniper, then citrus – but much more enduring than many commercial gins, probably because of the 47%. A great base for a simple, clean gin.

This has great body (47% is great) – an incredible, full flavoured gin and a great cocktail mixer (really – the sharp, full flavoured juniper is terrific). A favourite of mine.

Assessment: Recommended.


Review: Gordon's London Dry Gin by Jason Hambrey

Gordon's Dry Gin.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
None
Recipe
N/A
Producer Diageo

In 1830, Aeneas Coffey designed and thereafter patented his Coffey still - the first widely used continuous still. The consequences of this still were widespread, and gin saw the effects - the impurities in gin did not need to be covered up with sugar in the prominent Old Tom style of the time. Instead, a new gin was able to emerge, driven by the clean spirit of the Coffey Still - an unsweetened ("dry") and "strong" version of gin started to take hold - London Dry Gin. The wealthy classes of England gravitated to this gin, and the Victorian emphasis on health further promoted it. Old Tom faded, London Dry emerged - and dominated, for hundreds of years. One of the earliest big gin distilleries emerged in the midst of this popular wave of London Dry - a distillery founded by Alexander Gordon in 1769 in London. It is now the world's best selling London Dry Gin, and is even produced exclusively for the North American market in Canada - presumably at the Crown Royal distillery in Gimli, based on the bottling code.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L72552P00119:24 51SL143
  • Bottling Date: ~2018

Classic gin: clean, with juniper, lemon peel, white pepper – it is focused around juniper, which I like. Coriander plays a light background, but, overall, everything is held in balance. A touch of spicy, earthy bark too. The palate is clean, with lots of fresh, spicy coriander and a light juniper backbone. The spiciness is nice. Quick, light finish.