I think we can keep this review short and sweet by saying one simple sentence: “Tanqueray is gin.” That’s essentially my review. And if you sit and think about it for a second, it really fits, doesn’t it? It’s not good, but it’s not bad. It’s got good flavor, but that flavor could definitely be better. It’s not cheap, but it’s not overly expensive. It’s everything and nothing all at once.
So this is a little bit of a deviation from what this site has had in the past. I’m actually going to post a link to some inspirational content. The folks over at Serious Eats recently did a feature on Plymouth Gin, and their slideshow was pretty nifty and informative.
Only three people work the distillery?! Who knew–
Check out the slideshow here: Behind the scenes at Plymouth Gin
Needless to say, this Plymouth is next up on the review list, right behind a certain bottle a friend left at my house–
I mean, even the name is terrible. Boodles. I’m embarrassed saying it out loud. This gin comes in a squat square bottle with a plastic screw-top cap. The label is a dark navy and red with gold lettering, stating things like “Cock, Russell & Co. Ltd.,” “imported,” and paradoxically, “bottled in Fort Smith, AR.”
The only reason I picked this gin up is because I thought I read somewhere that it was decent, despite outward appearances. This, of course, will be a lesson to all about taking gin advice from unmemorable sources.
Drinking this gin neat is an exercise in futility. There is absolutely no sense in it at all. A glass of Boodles is a glass of tasteless burning. Although the gin does have a bit of an astringent, witch hazel scent to it, but I highly doubt that was intentional. It goes down tasteless and then hits you in the nasal cavities with an overwhelming amount of stinging and irritation.
Any sort of juniper or coriander flavor comes off as an afterthought. It’s as if the distillers forgot to add the botanical, so they hurriedly tossed them in at the end of the process, chuckling nervously to each other and hoping that no one will notice. I will say that there is a slight pine flavor that arises in the nose once one’s nostrils stop burning, but not more than you would get from a glass of water, were they drinking it near a spruce.
Mixing it with tonic water proves just as futile. It just tastes like bitter, tainted, watered down tonic. The quinine definitely drowns this extremely weak gin, so one might as well be drinking lower-proof Everclear with tonic.
But apparently there are people that actually like this stuff, actually think this has a flavor profile. There’s another review online spouting praises of Boodles. Under the Pro’s & Con’s section of the review, the writer listed the only Pro as, “Possibly the best English dry gin.” Later on they even go as far as likening it to beautiful music:
To make an analogy, the herbal notes of Bombay note are more percussive; Boodles is more melodic. Bombay is more festive; Boodles is more conservative.
Another very legit looking website for a liquor store has this grammatically butchered bit to say about the gin:
The Crisp dry taste of Boodles Bristish Gin, coupled with full-bodied strength,makes it a favorite among gin drinkers worldwide.
And of course, you know you’re a respected gin when your products Wikipedia entry states, “Due to the high alcohol content and strong proof Boodles can and will knock your socks off.”
How professional, and what an absolute crock. What they all mean to say is that Boodles has no flavor whatsoever. “Best English dry gin?” Countless other English gins stomp this flavorless hospital disinfectant into the ground without ever batting an eye.
That all being said, would anyone like a 3/4 full bottle of Boodles I just so happen to not be using? Barely used.
It’s only fitting that the first gin review of many be of a gin distilled right in my backyard. Watershed Distillery is located in Columbus, Ohio, and they produce not only a high quality gin but also vodka and a bourbon (which according to Watershed’s flickr stream, won’t be ready “for another couple years”).
Founded in 2010 by Greg Lehman, Watershed creates small-batch spirits in the Tri Village area of Columbus. They are extraordinarily proud (as they should be) of their 60 gal. Kothe custom-made still, bottling equipment and refurbished forklift. According to their website, there’s an average of 77 lbs. of juniper berries used in every bottle of Watershed Gin. This can obviously be confirmed the moment you pull out the cork, making that quintessential “thoop” sound.
The smell of this gin is floral, piny, and just a bit creamy. It’s velvety in your nose and it lingers for a bit in the back of the nasal cavity. Unlike other gins you’re not smacked in the face with the “Christmas tree” scent. The aroma isn’t harsh and doesn’t steal your breath. Close your eyes and inhale, and you’re languidly walking on a spring day, watching the dew drip from the pine needles.
Paired with tonic, this gin is so drinkable it’s dangerous. The faint bitterness of the quinine plays amazingly well with the sweet flavor of the gin. The carbonation lifts the essences out of the glass so you smell that you’re in for a treat well before you take your first sip. Yet no sooner do you take that first sip than you’ve inexplicably run out of cocktail. Of course, you’ll woozily head to the kitchen and make yourself another without a moments hesitation.
Even Watertshed on the rocks is as smooth as a velvet glove. Put a cube of ice in it and it clouds with a milky, bluish hue. Beautifully, it doesn’t leave that bitter, heavy aftertaste like most gins do. It finishes clean and not too dry. Upon hitting your tongue, you first taste the obligatory pine but the slew of exotic flavor notes soon follow. As soon as you wrap your mind around the juniper, your taste buds begin tingling with the flavors of grapefruit, lilac, cardamom and anise. Yet this leads me to my only real qualm with Watershed: flavor overload.
I’m an avid lover of gin for many reasons, but one is because I love the pine and juniper. These flavors aren’t lacking from Watershed, they are just passed up and replaced too soon for my liking. I want that evergreen taste to linger for a bit, let me smell it when I breathe out. With Watershed, the juniper is replaced too suddenly.
That small irk aside, I can honestly say that Watershed is one of my favorite gins I’ve tried thus far. You can taste Greg’s passion in every drop. I mean, the man hand-writes the batch number on every bottle. He’s invariably proud of what he does and he absolutely should be. Visit Watershed online to learn more, or better yet, take a tour of their quaint locale. They can accommodate groups up to 20 people and apparently they have an official distillery game called “Hammerschlagen.” I can only imagine what that entails—
The moral of the story? Watershed is a smooth, soft-handed gin that offers a cornucopia of flavors. I would readily recommend it to anyone who wants to try something that goes above and beyond the ubiquitous “Douglas Fir in a bottle” gin. And I mean, come on. It feels good to help good people making great products.
All images graciously borrowed from Watershed’s flickr stream, which you should visit.