Drink Gin Neat To Fully Experience Its Botanicals

Gin is something of an underdog. There's an air of elegance to its rich bouquet of botanicals, but its flavors are normally drowned out in a gin and tonic or hidden behind the sweetness of a fruit juice cocktail. On its own, it's got an undeserved reputation for tasting like a pine-scented carpet cleaner. Maybe people who say this just haven't had good gin. If your only experience with whiskey was one of the enormous plastic bottles sitting on the bottom shelf, you wouldn't think very highly of whiskey either.

There are many high-quality gin distillers out there who take pride in their craft and who want their product to be enjoyed on its own merits, not dulled behind something syrupy like some low-grade liquor. As with any high-quality spirit, it's best enjoyed neat and sipped slowly. You can always add an ice cube to open the drink up if the burn is too hot.

When you drink gin neat, or any spirit for that matter, what you're saying is that this drink tastes good and I want to experience its flavors. Something that's more of a mixer, like Jack Daniels, doesn't taste all that great on its own, but it's usually cheap which makes it perfect for a Jack and Coke. Low-quality gin can be harsh and aggressively botanical. Those are great for mixing with a tonic. A top-shelf gin is going to be balanced and smooth, perfectly capable of being enjoyed on its own.

A game of spinning plates

Gin is a difficult spirit to get right. It's a neutral grain spirit similar to vodka that's infused with herbs, flowers, bark, berries, and so on. There are typically anywhere from 10 to 20 different ingredients included. With so many moving parts, it's not easy to make something that is cohesive. A good gin is hard to find, as they say, which is why it's so special when you find one that does emerge with a single, united flavor.

Juniper berry is the quintessential ingredient of gin, but most bottles will also include citrus peel, angelica root, and coriander. From there, the playing field begins to widen. When you sip on a gin neat, you're allowing all of these flavors to dash across your tongue like starlings in springtime. It may be startling at first, but if you allow them to settle in you'll begin to notice what interesting contours and crevices you can find within.

Consumers are starting to wake up to the finer points of alcohol. The reason behind the renaissance remains obscure, but gin producers are taking notice. Higher-quality gins do cost a little more, but it's an issue of quality over quantity. If you're hosting a party with 20 people, maybe sipping on premium gin isn't the time or place. But a night out with your latest fling could be the perfect chance to show off your sophisticated palette.