Gin Shoot-Out the Third—more random than ever, but a clear winner

My Fellow Inebriates,

You don’t want to know where I’ve been, so let’s get to it. Our three contenders:

  • BROKER’S GIN. Our pet gin (or gin of pet bears at least) entered the competition the frontrunner. How would it fare, my fellow inebriates?
  • TANQUERAY. Strangely enough, we hadn’t pitted TANQUERAY against other gins before. Always a household favorite, we were sure it would stand and be counted. But against BROKER’S…?
  • PINK 47. New to LBHQ and relatively new to the booze world, PINK 47 hit the market in 2007 to reported critical accolades. The flashiest bottle of our three entrants, it came in swinging with 47 percent alcohol. Would it bitchslap BROKER’S and TANQ with their modest 40 percent? Read on, MFI.

DSCN3848

But first let’s flash-forward to 3:00 a.m. Many G&Ts have been consumed, in addition to a Viognier, a Torrontes, and a Cab with—unaccountably—a pot of tea somewhere in between. My dad is receiving a back massage from another man. A dozen guests and almost that many children have long gone home to bed, the adults having politely sampled a thimbleful of each gin before opting out of the remaining shenanigans. All except my parents and our good friend R, who arrived before dinner with a giant insect, under which I woke up to witness the aforementioned provocative tableau.

The brilliant thing about gin is the lucid high it confers. It’s a shiny kind of drunkenness, but it inspires all kinds of nuttiness. The last time Dad and R got ripped out of their heads I had to watch them play Guitar Hero, and this scenario promised to be almost as bad. Let’s leave it alone for a moment and talk gin.

 

PINK 47

pink47_diamond_front

First up: PINK 47 LONDON DRY GIN ($34.99 for 700 mL). Quadruple-distilled and grandstanding with 12 botanicals, PINK 47 wowed our guests with its diamond-inspired bottle and vivid label. As for me, it had me at 47 percent. This seemed an unassailable and possibly unfair advantage from the bear perspective, but how would the human taste buds find it?

Straight up

DSCN3852We passed out tiny samples to reluctant guests who said things like, “Wait a sec. Is gin supposed to be consumed straight?” PINK 47 was aromatic and appealing, but perhaps not the best gin to begin the tasting with. As the most alcoholic of the three, it was a shock. The guests were dutiful, though, and drank it down. PINK 47 was aggressive but charming, with the competence of a seasoned hooker or porn star.

The Gin & Tonic

Despite its marketplace youth, PINK 47 has won a bunch of trophies, and the G&T is probably why. With its heady but clean botanicals and high potency, it cuts through mixer assertively. It makes a ravishing G&T that will land you on your ass if you happen to be a small bear. Comments included:

“knifey”

“tastes like hitting someone.”

TANQUERAY

Tanqueray

Next up: TANQUERAY ($26.99 for 750 mL). We’ve always preferred TANQUERAY to its snooty sibling TANQ 10. It has a nice balance of classic botanicals with a citrusy profile and uber-smoothness. Its price tag is reasonable and it comports itself just as well in a martini as in a highball.

Straight up

DSCN3856Our guests were wary of gin after sampling straight PINK 47. Of the tray we circulated, only two-thirds of the TANQUERAY thimblefuls were downed, and commentary was muted. Perhaps, after being handled so forcefully by PINK 47, our tasters felt underwhelmed. Perhaps they were afraid (I doubt any of them ever woke up under a giant praying mantis). The consensus was…subdued. It was dry and refined, and didn’t draw undue attention to itself. Very English. I could picture it queuing up politely to vote.

The Gin & Tonic

DSCN3878By this time only the stalwarts were willing to try a second G&T mixed by my mother. True, most of them had ankle biters tearing around our yard, but all lived within staggering distance. I’m thinking not everyone is as obsessed with gin as we are at LBHQ. Still, those who tasted TANQUERAY in a G&T said it was civilized and smooth. TANQUERAY is much better at hiding in a G&T than PINK 47, which makes it more of a creeper and therefore more dangerous. All good.

 

BROKER’S GIN

DSCN3886Lastly: BROKER’S GIN ($27.99 for 750 mL). BROKER’S is the darling of LBHQ and the winner of all our previous Gin Shoot-Outs. Business Development Manager Julia Gale and I are practically best friends, my fellow inebriates, bonded in the quest to return BROKER’S to its rightful place on my local booze shop shelves after a long and inexplicable absence. Not only is BROKER’S reasonably priced; it strikes a perfect balance between old-school tradition and playful piquancy, delivered with impeccable smoothness. We like its no-nonsense price and the fact that every time we buy it we get a little bowler hat, which Miss V usually absconds with and places on the head of her Chihuahua. Yes, BROKER’s entered the shoot-out our incumbent. Would TANQ come from behind with its subtle smoothness? Or would PINK 47 whip the bejesus out of it with its 47 percent alcohol? The shoot-out was BROKER’S to lose.

Straight up

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Third time around even more of our thimblefuls got ignored. Only the die-hards were really committed to doing this thing, which was all right, because data from a dozen tasters would have been really confusing to compile. There was concurrence, though: BROKER’S is dry and refined, hitting all the traditional notes without clouting you over the head. Compared to TANQUERAY, BROKER’S comes off a little cheeky; it has more personality. If it were animate, it would be the cleverest of the three, with TANQ chuffing in a belated and overcompensatory way at its witticisms, and PINK 47 laughing raunchily as the jokes sailed over its head. But of course gin is not animated (how foolish to think of an inanimate object as animate), so we’ll just say BROKER’S brings more to the table botanically than TANQ, and doesn’t show its underwear like PINK 47.

The Gin & Tonic

DSCN3876Only the most committed gin tasters enjoyed a G&T featuring each of the contenders. However, those three people (and one bear) more than made up for the reticence of our well-behaved guests. Usually I’d chart the results, but my head hurts too much, and a lot of the data has slipped away, parceled as it was with other data I deliberately flushed. Truth be told, we extended this Shoot-Out for many days after the official event, returning to the fridge like Scarybear when there’s a cake in it, cycling through all three brands repeatedly until we realized that BROKER’S was it. Classically traditional, a perfect booze-mixer balance, and an orchestra of superbly modulated botanical chords.

And the winner is…

Broker’s.

Sorry if that’s an anticlimax. But for those of you who persevered to the end of this post to see what my dad was up to… The praying mantis said I imagined the whole thing. Then it reminded me there was still gin in the fridge.

"Hey, wake up. I heard there's gin left over."

“Hey, wake up. I heard there’s gin left over.”

POWDER MOUNTAIN LAGER—Refreshment for a cruel world

I had a rare ride-along with Miss V today after while her sister was in school. These outings take ages; V likes to examine everything minutely and scatter every dandelion in sight. Nothing escapes her notice.

About halfway home she stopped to watch a centipede being attacked by ten or so ants. Completely beset, the victim struggled to wriggle away from its tormenters, which were presumably trying to incapacitate it, eat it, and/or take it to their queen.

Watching that centipede thrash helplessly from belly to back was pretty gross. I wondered how long the battle would last. Were the ants biting it? Would it eventually pass out in agony or remain unconscious while they vivisected it? The process seemed extraordinarily cruel and drawn out—and for animals with short lifespans, I wondered morbidly, is there a time-dilation effect? Does a day feel like a month to a centipede, being such a large percentage of its lifetime compared to ours? How protracted, then, is its perceived suffering?

V said she hoped the ants would win. She watched intently as the belly-up centipede failed to right itself while the ants went at it mercilessly. There was no help for it.

Only when V remembered she’d been promised a cookie at Save-On Foods did she, still rooting for the ants, acquiesce to leave the inundated creature.

You almost have to have a four-year-old tour guide to notice stuff like this. The insect world teems below us in unfathomable populations. For every ant-on-centipede onslaught above ground there must be trillions below—uncountable insect cruelty and indifference. For every beleaguered arthropod or unenviable piece of spider prey there must be further infinities of predation, pain, and suffering.

I suddenly felt very small and overwhelmed. The whole planet seemed churning with barbarism, mostly going on unnoticed.

OMG!

And the hard reality dawned on me:

If the whole world—universe even—can remain indifferent to the excruciating death throes of one small creature, how can I expect anyone to give me a beer just to assuage a few tremors?

The thought swept me up like a bus full of evolutionary biologists. Not only did I feel very small; I felt very alone.

In a world of impassivity toward suffering, who would even think to give me a beer?

It wouldn’t even have to be a special beer. Whistler Brewing Company’s POWDER MOUNTAIN LAGER, one of the four offerings in its Travel Pack, would do just fine.

Pale straw-gold with bright white foam and firework effervescence (think Pop Rocks), this lager was an unlikely beer in our fridge. My parents never buy lagers except when they’re part of exciting mixer packs, and invariably those lagers get drunk last. But they’re certainly welcome at LBHQ, particularly as Langley enters earth-scorching season and the sun proceeds indifferently to flash-fry earthworms on the ground.

POWDER MOUNTAIN LAGER has a light and slightly hoppy aroma with a touch of background sweetness, all of which is practically unnoticeable amid a refreshing carbonation frenzy. It’s a party in the mouth, this lager, berserk with fizz, but unlike some lagers and particularly some other Whistler Brewing Company products, it has a surprisingly substantial mouthfeel yet finishes cleanly.

There are plenty of unsatisfying lagers on the market offering simple CO2 pyrotechnics as a fill-in for flavor, but POWDER MOUNTAIN LAGER deserves credit for being a bit more. I bet a crisp, icy-cold glass right now would alleviate my anxieties about being a small bear in a big, cold universe, plus it would take care of my DTs.

I did propose this to my mum, who said, unfeelingly:

“Get a grip, LB, it’s 9:00 a.m.”