“One martini is alright. Two are too many, and three is not enough” – James Thurber
Back to my recurring series on gin, the stuff of legend.
Part of the series will be to review the various gins that I have and drink. While I have made and enjoyed a number of gin cocktails (81 are listed in the index by my count), I decided to use my tried and true basics to conduct my taste tests – the classic martini and the gin and tonic. Of course, I also sip and smell the gin unadorned as well to understand its unique nose and flavor.
Today’s review is New Amsterdam gin. This is an 80 proof gin from The Amsterdam Spirits Company, which is actually a subsidiary of E. & J. Gallo Winery. This explains in large part the very innocuous nature of New Amsterdam, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
On its own the New Amsterdam has slightly floral and citrus notes on the nose, with lemon and orange being the most predominant. The taste experience is also similar, with definite lemon and orange flavors coming through…and not much else. There is barely a hint of juniper or other botanicals, and a sweetness to the flavor that, frankly, reminds more of a flavored vodka than a gin.
On to the martini. I used my standard recipe of 3 oz gin, 1/2 oz Noilly Prat dry vermouth and 1 dash Angostura bitters and garnished with three unstuffed cocktail olives. The New Amsterdam’s mild flavor really lets the vermouth come through, much more so than a typical London Dry gin would. The citrus flavors do compliment the vermouth nicely. However, I don’t drink a martini to sip vermouth and I missed tasting the gin.
Next was the gin and tonic. I used a rocks glass (12oz) with 6 ice cubes (1-1/2 oz each). 2oz of gin, Shweppes diet (hey, I have to watch the weight!) tonic water and a lime wedge squeezed over the top complete the ingredient list. A quick stir and it’s ready to taste.
By my gin and tonic standards this has a very mild taste. The lime in the drink did play off the citrus notes of the New Amsterdam. While refreshing, and suitable for a warm summer day, I missed the “bite” of my typical gin and tonic. Again, the lack of a clear juniper component disappointed me.
The verdict? I’m disappointed. As I wrote early on, this strikes more as a flavored vodka than a gin. I appreciate the attempt to widen the gin drinking audience, but it really should taste at least somewhat like gin. On a scale of 1 to 5 I rate the New Amsterdam gin a 2.