I’ve been sitting on this decision for two weeks, when I first compared Knickerbocker Gin to Leopold Bros. The problem? They were both quite excellent, and choosing one meant not giving the other its fair due.
Let me be clear, these are two very different types of gin, with Knickerbocker eschewing the traditional London Dry recipes, trying (and succeeding) to do something different. Leopold goes the opposite route, instead focusing on paying attention to the details of a traditional distillation. Knickerbocker is heavy on the botanicals, Leopold Bros. focused on perfecting the process of a classic recipe.
That’s not to say that Knickerbocker is not as well distilled as Leopold Bros. It sits very smoothly on the palate, and has no rough edges to the spirit that other gins have shown themselves to have in previous head-to-head.
So why did I choose Knickerbocker? It was that same bugaboo I came across in a previous tasting – Knickerbocker was interesting. Or, at least, it was one smidgen more interesting the Leopolds, which was also quite interesting. The flavor profile of Knickerbocker provided something new and different. Yes, yes, the juniper was there, but it played with its citrus notes a little more, and the other botanicals, including cardamon, coriander, were more assertive, but balanced quite nicely.
I have a feeling that if Knickerbocker ends up being my number one gin, then Leopold’s will be the second best gin in this exercise. Had it gone head to head with a different gin, I suspect Leopold’s would be in the final four as well.
But they didn’t, so they’re not. It’s Knickerbocker by a hair.