Some food, some drink.
The spirit of Kansas compels me: Impressions of Most Wanted Dry London Gin
Abstract: We're fortunate in Kansas that we've got a distillery that makes top notch booze at totally affordable prices. Recently, I purchased a bottle of Most Wanted Dry London Gin from Atchison-based High Plains Distilled Spirits (check out that NYT story while you're there!). Because drinks always taste better when shared, I thought I might take down a few tasting notes, so that those of you who have yet to try know what you're missing.
Purpose: Let's just get this out of the way: I love me some gin. Though the juniper flavor most-often associated with gin is a love it or hate it deal, it's a taste that I prefer. At the end of a busy day, there's just no substitute for a gin and tonic with a twist of lime.I don't get too fussy or snobby with my booze (albeit mostly out of necessity). London Dry is my preferred gin style, and when you live in the sticks, most of the high-end obscure brands are inaccessible. If I've got the money for the call stuff, I'll drink Tanqueray, but that 94 proof tends to make me silly, and there's a little bit of burn from that extra alcohol that works against the smoothness one expects with a martini. Conversely, Bombay Sapphire makes a lovely martini, but I just can't justify spending that kind of bank given the volume of hooch that I buy. So, imagine my excitement, when I discovered that the distillers of some of the best vodka ever had released a gin as well. What's more, 1.75L only cost me twenty bucks. I've had a few weeks with this bottle and I believe what I've learned about this gin is best embodied by mixing two of the most timeless gin drinks: the martini and the gin and tonic. What follows are my impressions, embodied by the tasting of these 2 drinks.
Observation: It wouldn't be much of a gin test if we didn't shake a martini. I'm not crazy about the traditional amount of vermouth, so I do it slightly less dry than Winston Churchill and rinse the inside of the glass with the vermouth before pouring the iced booze from the shaker. After all, it's the gin we want to taste. With the first sip, I couldn't believe how ridiculously smooth this gin was. Almost to a fault, really, as I was afraid I'd over-shook (a sip of the stuff straight was necessary to convince myself. What I won't do to eliminate error in an experiment, eh?). The juniper is there, but not overwhelming. I'm not a practiced connoisseur, but I do also notice a slight, citrus-laced bitterness in the finish that must be coming from other essential oils in High Plains' secret sauce. The bitterness as well as the burn that foils my urge to slug the whole thing back just isn't there.
For the second trial, I mixed up my go-to drink, a gin and tonic. I use diet tonic water, not because I'm counting calories, but because I think the sugared stuff can be a bit cloying; oh, and then there was that time I spilled gin and tonic on the desk which my computer sits. Let's just say that the sugar-free stuff is much more forgiving come clean-up time. As far as the lime goes, I think lime is totally necessary for a g+t. The tart of the citrus plays very well with the juniper in the gin, and does a great job of masking anything undesirable in lesser brands of gin. For this taste (and because it was a very long day), we mixed up a quad gin and tonic (not to be confused with a quad laser). After the martini, I knew we could go easy on the citrus, so I only added the the lime juice equivalent of what I usually use when mixing a double. As before, citrus was still the first thing tasted, with the juniper taking a supporting role. One fully expects the alcohol when shoehorning four shots of 80 proof into a 22oz glass with ice. But the like the martini the day prior (c'mon, you really think I'd test both drinks in one day?), this mix was all taste, no burn.
bottom line here is that like its vodka of the same name, Most
Wanted Dry London Gin is a prime-rib experience at ground chuck
prices. This is a gin that is as much at home in a martini as it is
in a mix; especially given its affordability. If you're a gin
drinker, there's no excuse (save availability) for upgrading your
well shelf with this gem. If you're not a gin drinker, this is the
spirit I would try if you want your membership card to the club. The
up-front citrus notes and lack of any real bitterness would make
this a great first-tasting experience. What's more, unlike the “New
Western Dry“ gins, Most Wanted doesn't wuss out with the
juniper (but doesn't overwhelm either).
Will I buy again? Well, extensive testing has left my supply a bit low, so it's best to restock and err on the side of caution I think.