My Fellow Inebriates,
Proving that Dry Weekdays are one of my mother’s worst ideas ever, Saturday’s Pre–Mother’s Day Gin Shoot-out quickly escalated (devolved?) into the kind of unbridled debauchery you get when lengthy privation provides the springboard. Yes, a party broke out at LBHQ. Yes, children were present, and it was mostly wholesome, at least until beddy-byes.
Christine’s arrival kicked it off. Even without a canvas bag full of Scotch (we’d billed the evening as a gin tasting), Christine was a ray of sunshine and well worth the afternoon I spent hanging out on the window sill waiting for her. Truth be told, I’d been holding some navy socks of Christine’s hostage in hopes that she’d return for them. But when she arrived I was so overjoyed that I forgot to give them to her.
Jumping into gin seemed wrong to the humans (where do these ideas come from?) so we had a beer on the patio where we could watch five-year-old Miss V beating the crap out of a bush with a badminton racket.
And then it was time for gin.
In the running:
As with the Pre-Apocalypse Gin Shoot-Out, we decided to be scientific and sample the different brands two ways:
- straight-up shots
- in G&Ts identically prepared with President’s Choice tonic water, ice, and lime
BROKER’S PREMIUM LONDON DRY GIN
You may recall that BROKER’S GIN has been the object of a long quest at LBHQ. I first tried it before starting this blog and realized I couldn’t very well live without it. But in the last year BROKER’S disappeared from our booze shop’s shelves, and restoring it was an absolute odyssey finally accomplished thanks to the tireless efforts of my dear personal friend Julia Gale. I had built up BROKER’S GIN to mythical proportions in my furry head, and when it finally arrived at the store I think I heard angels singing (not those ones who mooch off scotch kegs, but the other, nice ones that don’t exist). Still, when you anticipate something so avidly, are you not setting yourself up for disappointment?
There are no words.
Seriously, I don’t want to say “I told you so” because according to my parents I’m obnoxious enough, but…ahhhhhhhhh!
Delicate and floral with a rich backbone of citrus fruit and licorice, BROKER’S exudes a sophisticated, fresh scent—layered yet clean, a garden of delights. On the tongue it is gentle without being tentative, firmly hitting all the classic gin notes but somehow introducing a new register of untold harmonies. Indeed, BROKER’S was so nuanced that Christine spent a day thinking about it before commenting:
I finally figured out what that first smell was like with the Broker’s…I was thinking Licorice Allsorts but the heavier citrus with a hint of licorice was more like a waft of eating this candy from my youth….of course the gin was much smoother and subtle on the palate….I think Broker’s is my new favourite Gin……
My parents were in complete agreement, as was Blackie Bear, who unfortunately didn’t compare the BROKER’S with any other gins because he passed out.
Gin & Tonic
We immediately worried that BROKER’S would disappear into a gin-and-tonic the way BOMBAY SAPPHIRE tends to. What gives punchier gins like BEEFEATER and GORDON’S the edge in a G&T is their ability to cut through the tonic. We wondered if the subtler BROKER’S GIN might get lost. But we were pleasantly surprised that it did not. BROKER’S asserted itself through the tonic magnificently, displaying its many-layered notes through the mixer in a perfect G&T.
GORDON’S LONDON DRY GIN
We went into the shoot-out wondering if GORDON’S would prevail the way it did before—if not straight up, then certainly in a mixed drink. We are big fans of this solid, traditional gin, and it has been our go-to during the BROKER’S drought. GORDON’S is a juniper-forward, commanding James Bond–reminiscent gin without falling into the deep and boomy notes you find with juniper bombs like BEEFEATER. With its acceptably subtle character, how would it fare against BROKER’S?
Back to back against BROKER’s, a straight sip of GORDON’S was surprisingly coarse and harsh. It certainly suffered in comparison. This was a shame, because GORDON’S is a perfectly serviceable gin for a martini, and had the misfortune to take the stage after a dazzling performer. There, there, GORDON’S…we still believe in you, but for $4 more per 750mL I’d rather have BROKER’S.
Gin & Tonic
Regardless of having been shown up by BROKER’s straight up, GORDON’S makes a mean gin-and-tonic. No complaints from anyone at the table.
BOOMSMA JONGE GENEVER
This was a new one for LBHQ. Probably we should have bought another London Dry gin, but we’d heard good things about BOOMSMA in a G&T, and the price was reasonable. Genever (Dutch for “gin”) has long been cherished in the Netherlands, more often as an ice-cold sipper than in mixed drinks, and although it has fallen out of style somewhat over the years, it maintains a high cultural standing.
The first impression is how much sweeter BOOMSMA is than the other two. Despite being jonge (young) rather than oude (old) and therefore in the drier category, BOOMSMA delivers a relatively sweet burst to the palate. Moreover, it has a weightier, oilier mouthfeel. The taste itself is light and almost indistinct, although you can pick out light floral essences and characteristic gin notes. But as Christine and my dad concurred, it basically tastes like “gin for vodka drinkers.”
Gin & Tonic
BOOMSMA suffers the fate that BROKER’S so skilfully avoided: it disappears completely into a gin-and-tonic. The sweetness of the tonic masks BOOMSMA’s most notable characteristic, its own subtle sweetness, and takes out all the other tasting notes as well. BOOMSMA redeems itself by maintaining a nice boozy burn that manages to punch through the mixer. Certainly not a bad drink—just not very special, unless being a total creeper counts as special. Yes, MFI, BOOMSMA is so invisible that you find yourself adding more to your G&T. Next thing you know, it’s the next day and your cerebellum is doing this high-pitched scream thing.
By now a party had broken out, with other animals arriving, including this chihuahua that later made off with my bowler hat.
Results of the Shoot-Out
Here’s the breakdown (lowest being best):
- most favorite
- second favorite
- least favorite
Never, my fellow inebriates, has a Shoot-Out been so decisive. It would have been even more decisive had we included Blackie’s scoring of BROKER’S, but it wouldn’t have been fair, so here are his comments instead:
Dude, that was like…dude. I’m gonna have a little sleep now.
You and me both, buddy.
As for the rest of us, Christine and Dad emerged without a hangover. Mum had a two-day hangover, which serves her right for imposing Dry Weekdays. If she’d had her drink on throughout the week, she wouldn’t have gone nuts come the weekend, and her liver wouldn’t have been so out of practice. Meanwhile, Blackie still looks all wrong. And yours truly? I’m thinking, how soon can we do it again?
BROKER’S wiped the floor with these other gins. So the challenge is on.