Santa Cruz Alcohol Appreciation #1: Gin time

Hmm….what’s behind bag number one?

I was all set to write about the wine-tasting we held last week until I realized I’d never written about the gin tasting. So let’s back up a bit here

Back in Albany, bk decided to start a little alcohol tasting club called Alcohol Appreciation. (See? He was being cheeky with the abbreviation. ) Anyways, he really enjoyed doing it and decided to start it up again here in Santa Cruz.
Remembering how much fun we had tasting gins one summer, he decided to bring it back for the first Santa Cruz installation. Gins get a bad rep for some reason. I seem to know an awful lot of people who claim to hate gin, while I, on the other hand, love it. To me, it’s almost insulting when I order a martini and I’m asked whether I want vodka or gin.

But I digress. In a nod to another tradition of BK’s Albany alcohol tasting parties — bacon at every one — he made a gluten-free version of David Chang’s Momofuku Bo Ssam using GF soy sauce and we served it with bib lettuce.

The fixins’ for bo’saam
Pork!
More of the spread

We decided to taste each gin neat, then with tonic and lime. Each attendee/couple was tasked with bringing a bottle of gin. I labeled several brown paper lunch bags with numbers and put each bottle in one of them so we wouldn’t know which one was before we did our taste test. I also made special “tasting sheets,” which you can find here if you want to try it yourself.

Here are the gins we wound up with:

We discovered that most gins are not exactly drinkable by themselves.  That part of the tasting elicited some pretty great comments. These are not at all scientific.

Bluecoat: “Like I just swallowed cleaner!” “not great” “rubbing alcohol and juniper berries” “they may not have cleaned the distillation equipment properly” “neat really burns!” “burning” “refreshing” “tastes better with tonic”

Death’s Door : ”uhhh blahhh” “taste is terrible” “worse than Mohawk vodka” “piney” “good in a martini” “it could strip the finish off floors” “citrusy but stinky”

Beefeater:  ”literally rubbing alcohol” “even mixed, it is still ass” “grosser than gross” “the quiet ones are dangerous” “my face hurts” “harsh” “isopropyl” “good for cleaning!”

Greylock: “yummy for gin” “clean and no burn, smooth” “flowers and shit” “excellent berry flavor” “buttery mouth feel” “light juniper and lemon flavor mixed” “like drinking perfume”

Right: “strong by nice citrus” “doesn’t smell like death!” “good smell” “pretty good” “don’t inhale too deeply.” “sharp but not harsh” “aftertaste is a little off”

Stretton’s: “nice nose” “that was good” “good with tonic” “okay, but ugh still” “no redeeming qualities, still has an unfortunate aftertaste” “too much like rubbing alcohol”

St. George: “I like this one!”"herbally, sweet, piney” “don’t have to choke it down” “fruity gin pine forest” “a hint of turpentine” “lots of berry- spruce?” “bubbly like”

So which one was deemed the cream of the crop? Well, our judges were a little split. The St. George’s and the Greylock tied for top honors. Interestingly enough, it was another gin from Berkshire Mountain Distilleries — Ethereal — that won bk’s last gin taste-off.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the Beefeater that came in dead last.

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4 Responses to Santa Cruz Alcohol Appreciation #1: Gin time

  1. Pingback: Santa Cruz Alcohol Appreciation #2: Northern California Chardonnay » The Life of My Mouth

  2. Pingback: Santa Cruz Alcohol Appreciation #3: Tequila » The Life of My Mouth

  3. Andrea says:

    I adore gin as well, and found this in the way of “how to taste”. Going neat on gin definitely seems like you’d elicit a ton of “notes of varnish” responses.
    1. Add water: http://www.olivertwistgin.com/how-to-taste-gin-properly-119/
    2. Spit. http://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/2012/10/25/how-to-taste-50-gins

    50 gins? I’m impressed.

  4. Pingback: Santa Cruz Alcohol Appreciation #5: Hard Cider » The Life of My Mouth

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