Published on May 23rd, 2012 | by Greg0
Three Gins: Death’s Door, Caorunn, Farmer’s
Gin is a lovely spirit. We've tried dozens of them, from all over the world, and much like the other major spirits, it offers a wide range of character depending largely on the botanicals included. Even more so than rum or whiskey, gin is flexible enough to take on a variety of notes and flavors, meaning that different gins can taste markedly different and make for wildly different end results. We've been tasting three interesting gins with tonic and lemon and straight up and in various preparations, and can honestly advise that all three have their proponents.
We'll start with Death's Door, since it seems a bit contrary. Based in Middleton, Wisconsin, they also make a vodka and a whiskey. But their gin is our focus, and it's a delightful recipe, quite focused on a small number of flavors that stand out a bit more than some gins we've seen. Instead of having 19 or so botanicals, this one apparently includes just three, and it "shows"- juniper, coriander, and fennel. The end result is a bit more intense, even minty, and certainly fresh, if dryer than some. Lovely packaging and a clean finish add up a gin that's solid, memorable, if a little harder to mix than most. Some tasters liked this one the best of the set when consumed straight up or with a little citrus twist, others found it a little "unsubtle". $30, and made from organic botanicals!
From an American red winter wheat gin to a Scottish variety that includes some unique ingredients: Caorunn Gin (pronounced ka-roon). Eleven botanicals form the basis of this spirit, and though six are traditional (juniper, orange peel, coriander), another five are Celtic in origin- dandelion, bog myrtle, rowan berry, heather, and coul blush apple. Again, the packaging is distinctive, though the asterisk logo a little weird. They recommend pairing with apple instead of the usual citrus, and we liked the change- it matched well with this somewhat fruity gin. It's actually pretty traditional in taste and nose- perfectly clear and crisp, with an immediate impression of juniper. And though we tried our hardest, it was difficult to discern much of the other flavors, though it did finish less spicy and quite mellow. A bit soft, it's easy to like and mix, we mixed some lemon juice and thyme in a take on this recipe, and really liked the end result. $35 or so.
Finally, there's the old school, certified organic Farmer's Gin. It looks like something your grandfather might drink, but shakes up the classic botanical list with a few interesting additions, namely lemongrass and elderflower. Considering that those are two of our favorite cocktail additions, we were pretty curious about their inclusion, but the effect is pretty muted and mild. Certainly, the juniper and perhaps the angelica form a stronger more floral impression, and this was the spiciest of the trio. It also had the most quiet nose, with little bouquet. Comments on this one ranged from "made me want to jump into it" to "addictively different". Strong, at 93 proof, but smooth instead of sharp. Also around $30.