One of the things that filling a 16-gin-bracket-in-order-to-determine-one’s-favorite accomplishes is that it allows one to see their predilections a more clarity. I’ve already seen this once so far in this endeavor, where I’ve come to terms with the fact that an alcohol-heavy spirit is a bug and not a feature for me. I’ve given my reasons for this before – alcohol numbs the palate, making it hard to taste the complexities within – but I recognize that ultimately this is a subjective preference based off of my own ability (or non-ability, in this case) to taste well with a higher ABV in tow.
I use this as an example to better support my second predilection that I’ve come across – I like “interesting” drinks. Imagine my discomfort as I sit here writing this line, without a clear definition of what “interesting” actually means. I admit that there’s no one consistent definition, and that puts my critical palate even more in question.
Take, for example, the third gin that I’ve put in my final four - Bulldog. I like it because it’s well made, it has a nice balance, and that there is no one flavor that smacks one repeatedly over the head. Alas, these are the same characteristics that describe No. 209, to which I was comparing Bulldog. So what differentiates the two? Well, Bulldog is interesting to me. It’s interesting because it has subtlety and nuance, a rarity in the gin world. It uses different botanicals than No. 209, other than the standard juniper. It presents itself as a London Dry Gin, a more conservative gin style than No. 209′s New Western Dry Gin style, and it does so with panache.
I drink Bulldog, and I don’t feel as if it’s off to the juniper races with other more popular gins. I get the sense that the folks at Bulldog are looking to do their own thing, but they don’t need to shout about it. I like No. 209, but I’ve tasted their flavor profile – juniper with citrus- in other gins. Bulldog seems to show restraint, a great characteristic to have in a market full of “look at me! Look at me!” type gins.
And this makes them interesting. So their gin goes into my final four.