I drink a lot of gin and tonics. Mostly this is a function of the fact that I don’t drink beer, rarely drink wine and, while I like a good cider, am rarely in the mood for it.
That being said, I’ve always really liked the gin and tonic. It’s a nice drink.
When talking with Ryan Alexander over drinks one evening, he reported some experimentation he’d done, trying to find the best gin and tonic combination.
This struck me as a good idea. I must admit, most of the gin and tonics I’ve consumed in my life have been schweppes and bombay sapphire. It’s a perfectly serviceable drink, but surely with better ingredients it could be a better drink?
So I set forth and bought lots of nice gin and some nice tonic water and began to experiment.
As it turned out, what I discovered is that I really like gin without the tonic water. Once you use a decent gin, it has much more possibilities than just drowning out the flavour with quinine and sugar. Don’t get me wrong, I still really like gin and tonics, particularly if you use one of the more spicy gins, but I also really like neat gin, and martinis.
The following are the gins I have tried over the last few weeks:
- Whitley Neill
- Tanqueray No. 10
- No 3. London Dry Gin
- Sacred Gin
- Dry Fly Gin
I’d also previously had:
- Tanqueray export strength
- Bombay sapphire
Of the new ones, the only one I really didn’t like was the Dry Fly. It has weird overtones of whiskey and salt (really. It’s based on a wheat liquor and actually does have added salt). I feel like there might be something it’s good in (I keep meaning to try it in a ruddy mary), but I’ve not found it so far.
The ones I would recommend unreservedly are the Whitley Neill and the Sipsmith. The Whitley Neill is quite mild – don’t use it in a G&T, it will drown, but it’s very nice neat and quite good in a martini. The Sipsmith has a similar flavour to it, but much more of a kick (tastewise – they’re about the same in alcohol content with the Whitley Neill actually fractionally stronger). It seems to be very versatile – it produces good martinis, good gin and tonics and is rather nice neat. If I were drinking the gin neat I’d probably choose the Whitley Neill, but for the other uses the Sipsmith seems nicer to me.
(Side note: As you’re probably noting, this isn’t a proper formal alcohol review. This is more just “This is what I tried, these are what I liked”).
For gin and tonics, the combination I’ve been really liking is the Aviation with Fever Tree tonic water. The Aviation is quite spicy (though less so than the Tanqueray) and so the flavour is easily discernable through the otherwise quite strong tasting Fever Tree.
The Sacred gin is nice, but until today I’d not found anything I really liked it in – it has a bit of an odd flavour neat, and I felt that while it was nice in a G&T it wasn’t really living up to its promise. Today I tried it in a classic martini (about 3 parts gin to 1 part vermouth) with Noilly Prat vermouth, which was excellent. This may be my new favourite Martini (although admittedly I’m not yet a connoisseur of the subject).
All told, this has been a really good learning experience. Gin is much more interesting a drink than I had previously realised, and significantly more versatile.
The only downside is that I now have ten bottles of gin in my flat. Oh well. Bottoms up!