VOYAGER GIN (84 proof - $35) - Voyager Dry Gin is a harder-to-procure beauty that exemplifies balance and roundness in a juniper-driven gin. Voyager is American (made in Woodinville, WA) in the London dry style, distilled in a copper alembic pot still.
Tasting Notes: Not one element overwhelms: orris root, citrus, angelica, coriander and cassia are all here, but so are licorice and cardamom. They meld with smooth elegance.
In a Martini: Though initially a martini made with Voyager tastes as smooth as the gin alone, when compared side-by-side to other martinis, it somehow got lost. It was quite mellow compared to martinis made with gins like Death's Door or Junipero.
JUNIPERO GIN (98.6 proof - $33) - Junipero Gin has long been one of my favorites. Certainly I am proud of its local heritage as an Anchor Distilling product. But it also has one of the bolder, stand-out gin profiles. In the classic London dry style, more than a dozen botanicals and distillation in a copper pot still imbue it with a radiant complexity.
Tasting Notes: Bold and punchy, juniper comes across strong, though the overall effect is still clean and bright. Spice comes through as does citrus, though Anchor Distilling remains secretive about botanicals used.
In a Martini: A bracing yet balanced martini, this makes my top martini alongside Death's Door.
Classic and Affordable
BROKER'S GIN (80 proof - $20) - Broker's Gin has only been around since 1998, created by brothers Martin and Andy Dawson, but it plays like a classic London dry gin (actually distilled near Birmingham, England) around for hundreds of years. The best part is the quality vs. price, if you can get past the silly bowler hat cap (although I love the elegant, clean label design with a bowler-hatted gentleman).
Tasting Notes: Delightfully dry, botanicals reign here with herbs from Bulgaria to Macedonia. Orris root and coriander co-mingle with nutmeg, Cassia bark and cinnamon.
In a Martini: Makes a straightforward, classic Martini, but is also balanced, full and spicy.
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