The worst part of this bracket breakdown is that there has to be losers. When I compare one gin against another, a preference, no matter how small, will make itself known, and invariably the loser will be tossed aside on the smallest percieved flaw.
Such is the case between Junipero and No. 209.
Let me state my bias up front – I was rooting for Junipero. I am a huge fan of Anchor Distillery, as their attention to detail, and their joy in recreating old recipes and selling them to modern consumers, enlightening them with how things used to be. As a business model, it was one right up my alley, and Anchor’s passion for the past made me love them.
Yet when I put their gin up against No. 209, I sided with the lesser-known brand. No. 209, gets to go ahead to the elite eight.
Let me be clear, both are fine gins. Both are quite different, with two purposes on the market landscape. Junipero is a classic London Dry gin, restrained, and wonderfully balanced. No. 209 falls into the New Western Dry Gin category. No. 209 has far more distinct citrus undertones, while Junipero lands with a warm, spicy buzz, and a citrus flavoring so subtle, one can miss if it they weren’t looking for it. For with Junipero, juniper rules.
So, why did I choose No. 209? It’s the same reason as with Tanqueray – the ABV is too much, with Junipero pushing near 50% (49.3 % to be exact). That numbing of the tongue that comes with excessive alcohol does not work for me, not while I’m trying to get at the heart of what the gin tastes like. While No. 209 sits only a little lower in ABV (46%), it’s enough for me to get at the coriander, the cardamon, and others that sit below the orange peel.