Little known fact (perhaps): gin is my favorite form of hard liquor. The gin & tonic has been my drink of choice since I was 21. It’s refreshing, easy on the pallet, and I don’t feel silly ordering it. (I cannot bring myself to order “girly” drinks — heck, even a Cosmopolitan is too fru-fru for me.) I’m not particularly fond of vodka and I can’t get into scotch. I do like bourbon, but I’d still pick gin over it any day. My friend Will also happens to be fond of gin. A few months ago I introduced him to Citadelle gin, and more recently he suggested that Drew and I try Hendrick’s. Yesterday I picked up a bottle and excitedly hurried home to taste it.
I couldn’t wait. The packaging really appealed to me, as did the fact that it’s made with cucumbers and rose petals. Yes. Rose petals. Of course, there’s the requisite juniper berries and some citrus as well. But rose petals, people. The bottle was difficult to pour from due to its odd shape, but after the first few glugs it got easier. First we tried it straight — no ice, no tonic, just pure gin. I got a lot of alcohol on the nose and after my first taste I thought it was rather burny. It was smooth, no doubt, but… I felt a bit disappointed. Perhaps my expectations were too high? I added a few ice cubes, swirled my glass a bit and laughed at myself because I didn’t think a gin should have to open up like a wine. It helped, though, and I began to pick up on the citrus and a very subtle hint of rose. Quite lovely, really. On we went to our gin & tonics. I garnished mine with a cucumber, as suggested. My husband, the purist, refused and chose lime. Perhaps it was all in my head, but I do feel that the cucumber added something. However, we couldn’t help but think that the Hendrick’s reminded us a lot of Gordon’s (which is a much less expensive gin, though still respectable).
How else to prove this but with a blind tasting? Luckily we have a set of multi-colored shot glasses, making it easy to keep track of who had poured what. I left the room as Drew poured mine, and then he left as I poured his. And then the tasting began. Now, we both are rather seasoned wine tasters. I’ve been at events where I have tasted probably close to 100 different wines. (And anyone who is serious about wine tasting spits, I hate to tell you.) Tasting hard liquor, however, is much more difficult, obviously due to the high alcohol content. Nevertheless, we had a mission and we were determined. First, we wanted to see if we could pick out each of the gins we had in our liquor cabinet. Second, we were curious what our favorite would be if we couldn’t see the labels.
The verdict? Well, first allow me to brag for a minute: I nailed all three gins. I thought the Tanqueray was pretty obvious, but interestingly enough, it was trickier figuring out which glass was Gordon’s and which glass was Hendricks. After another taste it was pretty clear that one (the Hendrick’s) was smoother than the other. Drew didn’t quite do as well, but I’ll let him decide if he wants to own up to that. We both ended up chosing Tanqueray as our favorite. No real surprise to me. Tanq was my gin of choice for years. As for the similarities between Hendrick’s and Gordon’s? When you taste them side by side, there is no comparison. The Hendick’s is so much nicer. Of course, you pay a premium for that, too.
Once we finish off the Gordon’s and the Tanqueray we plan on doing another blind tasting, but we’re going to put the Hendrick’s up against Citadelle (Drew’s favorite) and D.H. Krahn (my new favorite) and see what happens. That should be interesting!