When I was younger and a lot more flush, I would think nothing of plunking down top dollar for the few luxuries that I enjoyed. However, with age, poverty, and a greatly narrowed social life, I have long since learned the art of economizing. This is especially evident when one considers my liquor cabinet.
In my grad school days, I usually kept a bottle of Tanqueray or Bombay Sapphire gin on hand, and would gladly argue for hours about the relative merits of various top-shelf tipples. Recently, however, I bought my first bottle of gin in years. It was New Amsterdam.
In my defense, I will point out that it was cheap, it had a cool bottle, and it tasted pretty good when I tried it in a taste test at my local liquor store. However, in the fullness of time, I have come to the conclusion that it actually has notes of cheap perfume, and is redolent of some sort of industrial process.
My other gin, Rogue's Spruce, came from Sebbie, the incredibly cool lady whose image appears on Rogue's chocolate stout. I met Sebbie at a "Taste of Oregon" culinary event in the Lower East Side. We hit it off immediately, as she helped me sneak my wife and daughter in. Later, when I admitted that I was too soused on good Oregon absinthe to effectively review Rogue's new gin and spice rum offerings, she sent me home with a fifth of each.
The hazelnut spiced rum has long since gone to meet its maker, but my impressive restraint has kept the gin around for quite a while now, although I am rapidly reaching the end of the bottle. As the New Amsterdam demonstrates, finding a suitable replacement isn't exactly an easy prospect.
Before I finished my Rogue and New Amsterdam, I decided to taste test the two to get a better feeling for gin. Here's what I came up with:
New Amsterdam: Rough, industrial taste, sweetish. When chilled, rough tones smoothed out and it tasted overwhelmingly sweet.
Rogue: Much milder than the New Amsterdam, with vegetal, cool tones. Strong taste of cucumber and spruce. When chilled, the alcohol flavor almost disappears completely, rendering it supersmooth and very chilling.
On a side note, New Amsterdam's roughness is surprising, particularly given that the Rogue is actually about 10 proof higher.