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Gin Tasting 2: Continuing the Effort

In this second part or my gin-tasting series, I continue the quest of trying to decide what it is and try to decide if I actually like it.

Continuing the Gin Tasting

In the first part of this series, I talked about a variety of issues that I needed to get behind me, one of which was glassware. Another was the effort of how to do the tasting. Now that I have my feet wet on this issue (or, actually, my tongue), it’s time to move forward.

Now that I’ve gotten some method ready, my spouse and I have gotten together to more seriously taste the gins we’ve gotten.

Gin-Tasting Effort # 2

Our initial hesitations stemmed from the fact that, upon tasting several small-batch (and some not-so-small-batch) gins, that we started to believe that we didn’t really know what gin was. Although we do know that gin is based on the flavor of juniper (which has its varieties, too), we realize there are many other flavors involved, and were unsure we knew what we were doing when tasting all these gins.

Now, we realize that not all gins taste that similar and we’re just going to move forward knowing that and doing our best to learn more about them. We now decided to taste more gins and try to figure out what gin is and what we like about it (besides the obvious juniper).

This tasting involved these gins:

  • St. George Botanivore
  • Death’s Door
  • Grand Traverse Distillery Peninsula Gin

The Outcome: St. George

First of all, I should mention that the St. George gin is one of a series of gin types by St. George. There are three types, each of which our local liquor store allowed us to taste (hurrah to local liquor stores like A&L Wine Castle that let you taste things:  Our favorite of the St. George styles was the Botanivore, but all three were quite nice.

In any case, the St. George is the most complex. My spouse preferred this one. It has something like eleven herbs and spices. I also thought it to be excellent and delicious. My comment about the aroma was that it smelled like what gin should smell like.

But, as I’m simple-tasted (like being simple-minded of the taste buds), while I thought it excellent, I did end up preferring those gins with fewer ingredients.

The Outcome: Death’s Door

We, next, tried the Death’s Door. The aroma was peppery and somewhat juniper-like. But the flavor was quite strong. It did have just a slightly higher alcohol content than the other two (by a few percent, only), but the strong flavor might be due to the wild juniper. I do not have experience with wild juniper, but  will just guess that it might be somewhat stronger than the “regular’ juniper. Still, my comment on this would be that it was strong, pungent and spicy. I think this gin is the most likely to hold it own among other mixer ingredients of the gins I’ve tasted, so far, and quite lively, all by itself.

The Outcome: Grand Traverse Distillery Peninsula Gin

The third was the Peninsula Gin from Grand Traverse Distillery. It was the polar opposite of the Death’s Door. Once, again, there aren’t lots of flavors in this. It has six (compared to St. George’s eleven and Death’s Door three). There is something mellow about the aroma and the flavor. It seems to want to be sipped all alone on a summer day with a modest fruity suggestion. It is just so mellow that it is hard to imagine pairing it with all but the most frugal of mixers. In a future effort, we might try it with tonic water. However, I have to wonder if it will hold up even to the quinine flavor. It isn’t that this isn’t flavorful-enough, as it has a quite lovely flavor to it. It’s just that it is not so extremely flavored as the other two (especially the “in your face” Death’s Door).


In the last post about these tastings, I commented on tasting with water. Both my spouse and I decided that, while water is useful for bringing out flavors, and quite important in the tastings of other spirits, it is a little strange (to my spouse) and just plain nasty (to me) with the way it brings out the oiliness of the gin. So, while we did try the St. George with the water and did discover new flavors, have given up on using water with these gin tastings. That’s just our personal preference. Consider that gin is basically vodka with flavors. We don’t often think to add water to vodka, either, although it’s not a bad idea.

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