Cocktails with a variety of American Gins

Pinnacle Gin (40.0% ABV)

Pinnacle Gin FINALPinnacle Gin is made by a company best known for its neutral and flavoured vodkas. The bottle says the gin is imported and implies it is made in the UK, but I couldn’t find out much more information. I picked up a 200ml bottle in the US for $6.

On its own
Nose: Pure alcohol.
Taste: Very simple and spirituous to taste, followed by a single dimension of juniper. The finish burns the throat. Decidedly below average, this seems unlikely to have been designed for drinking and I certainly wouldn’t.

Gin & Tonic
Rather dull; with a whiff of juniper and citrus, it is only slightly refreshing and rather cloying on the finish. There are far better drinks out there, but it is an improvement on drinking the gin straight. With a fresh wedge of lime squeezed in the drink, it becomes just about acceptable.

Again, this is very basic, with a little juniper coming through, but most of the flavour comes from the vermouth. A boring Martini – usually such a rare creature. I don’t think I’d drink this, even in a pinch.

Simple and a bit flat in terms of flavour, although it improves with a slice of orange to add a touch of zing. It could do with a little more bitterness, but, on balance, an average drink.

Of those that I tried, my favourite drink with Pinnacle Gin was the Negroni.

Skol Gin (40.0% ABV)

SkolGinA London Dry Gin with a history dating back to 1849, Skol Gin is currently part of Barton brands (who also own Fleischmann’s Gin and Mr. Boston Gin). I purchased a 200ml bottle in the US for $5.00.

On its own
Nose: Rather “quiet”, with a faint whisper of pine and vanilla notes.
Taste: Not bad, with a relatively light character of juniper, angelica, coriander, and citrus. There is also a raisin-like note in the middle and a rather dry finish.

Gin & Tonic
Dry and rather cloying, this Gin & Tonic has a conspicuous lack of character. Below average and one to avoid.

Skol Gin produces a very straight-forward Martini, with notes of pine, citrus, and nutmeg. It’s not bad, but greatly improved with the addition of a fresh fruit garnish – a twist of grapefruit peel is particularly good.

An average Negroni. The gin’s raisin character really comes through in this cocktail, as well as some notes of white wine. Juicy, with a fair amount of sweetness and then a rather intense bitterness. Not bad, but it won’t blow you away.

My favourite drink with Skol Gin was the Martini.

McCormick Extra Dry Distilled London Dry Gin (40.0% ABV)

McCormick Gin FINALDistilled from American grain in Weston, Missouri, I purchased 200ml of McCormick Extra Dry Distilled London Dry Gin for $4.50.

On its own
Nose: Juniper, coriander, and the sticky-sweetness of figs.
Taste: Surprisingly smooth, with a sweet fig silkiness to it and some fragrant spice, before notes of bitter pine. Unfortunately, the flavour then collapses into an unpleasant void – there is no finish.

Gin & Tonic
With steady notes of juniper and citrus, this is rather average, but thankfully not too cloying. A standard drink, but reasonable enough when caught short.

This gin produces a well-rounded and refreshing Martini with a nice interplay between its spice and juniper notes and a dry finish. A good garnish and chilled glass could make this drink very good.

I found this Negroni to be rather off-balance; there is a lack of flavour and the cocktail’s signature bittersweet character is missing. Dull.

My favourite drink with McCormick Extra Dry Gin was the Martini.
New Amsterdam Gin (40.0% ABV)

AmsterdamGinOn its own
Nose: Subtle, with just a little sweet citrus.
Taste: Again, quite sweet, with a sherbet-like citrus flavour and fruity notes reminiscent of the “Fruit Salad” chewy sweets. Very light on the juniper.

Gin & Tonic
Dominant notes of vanilla and citrus. As it develops, you can make out a touch of grapefruit, more vanilla, and notes of chocolate and dry pine at the end. Overall, pretty good.

This Martini is, sadly, distinctly lacking in juniper, has too much sweet citrus to taste, and lots of alcohol on the nose. It is okay as a drink, but, even for the most liberal of contemporary gin drinkers, this may well stray too far to be called a Gin Martini.

In sharp contrast to the Martini, this is rich and fruity, with plenty of notes of orange, herbs, and an earthy bitterness. Full-bodied, rounded, and smooth. The overall intensity of bitterness is good and ensures that this is a pretty tasty cocktail.

In Conclusion
Overall, I’m left feeling that this gin is a bit hit and miss. It makes a disappointing Martini but the gin and tonic was quite acceptable. Where it worked best was the super-smooth Negroni.



Smuggler’s Notch (44.0% ABV)

Smugglers NotchSmuggler’s Notch distillery is in Jeffersonville, Vermont.

On its own
Nose: Light and refined, with hints of biscuit, coriander, cassia, and floral blossom.
Taste: Dry, with notes of citrus and cilantro upfront, followed by a fair dose of spice. Then there is some ultra-dry citrus flavours and a little warm tingle on the finish.

Gin & Tonic
A rather savoury Gin & Tonic with a little salinity and spice notes such as cumin. Smooth with a dry finish, this is easy to drink.

Light and crisp, with subtle hints of vanilla and lemon, before peppery notes, juniper, and angelica on the finish.

A clean and smooth Negroni; not too intense and quite accessible, this nonetheless works even better with a slightly higher ratio of gin.

In Conclusion
A very light, clean gin, although I would have enjoyed a little more botanical intensity. My favourite drink was the Martini.

Smuggler’s Notch Hopped Gin (45.0% ABV)

Made by vapour infusing Vermont Cascade Hop and Organic Juniper.

On its own
Nose: Quiet, with an air of spice.
Taste: This gin has a pleasant texture, but the spirit itself is light on character. With a little time, however, flavours of chocolate and spice emerge.

Gin & Tonic
This has some light hop notes that add complexity to the drink, plus a touch of bitterness and a hint of citrus. A smooth and crisp drink.

A soft Martini with the creamy smoothness of a vodka Martini, this has a little residual juniper, before some angelica on the finish.

This is a more complex version of the Negroni made with the original Smuggler’s Notch Gin. It has floral citrus notes and an appealing bitterness thanks to the mix of hops and Campari.

In Conclusion
Smuggler’s Notch Hopped Gin is gin light on character when sipped neat and, although a nice spirit, it works best in mixed drinks. I liked the Negroni best.

Oola Gin

Oola GinMade at one of the many distilleries in Seattle, Washington State. Oola distillery also make an aged gin, flavoured vodka and bourbon.

On its own
Nose: A very rich and creamy vanilla nose with a touch of citrus.
Taste: Oily on the palate, with notes of liquorice, a little creamy vanilla, and dry juniper. It’s slightly spirituous on the finish with a leafy zing to it.

Gin & Tonic
Creamy on the nose, with hints of caramel panna cotta. It’s also creamy to taste, with sweet caramel and vanilla upfront, before a more typical dry gin character of earthy pine and citrus.

Very fruity and creamy – great for those who like a slightly sweeter Martini. This is a better choice for post-dinner, rather than pre-dinner cocktail.

Sweet and creamy, with a bitterness level much lower than most Negroni drinkers would expect. Packed full of sweet spice and vanilla, with a just a spot of earthy bitterness.

In Conclusion
Oola is very much of a sweeter style then a dry gin with a good level of flavour and a pleasant texture. My favourite drink was the Gin Tonic.

This entry was posted in Vintage Cocktails by DTS. Bookmark the permalink.

About DTS

partial to a martini? to a smoke-hazed gin joint & a perfect tipple poured with the style, swank & skill of a true aficionado? …then pull up your stool to the bar, prepare to stock up your cocktail cabinet & get ready to drink it all in as we introduce you to a stitch in times’ resident barman… David T. Smith is a drinks enthusiast currently residing in the U.K. a long-time fan of tasting & exploring various types of alcohol, he has a fascination for vintage spirits and cocktails, in particular their heritage & origins; this was strengthened last year when he presented a talk and accompanying monograph on the Martini. it was as a result of his research of this topic that he was introduced to drinks paraphernalia, & he is now the happy owner of a colourful collection of bottles, books, and gadgets from a wide range of eras… an avid believer in the validity and variety of personal opinion, particularly in the subjective area of tasting, he enjoys hosting tasting sessions for friends, constantly challenging them to find their own favourite tipple. in addition to all of this, he is also interested in economics, three-piece suits, board games & keeping alive the art of engaging in enjoyable conversation with a good glass of port whilst surrounded by pipe smoke… Thanks to Analiebe for writing this rather flattering blurb for me.

1 thought on “Cocktails with a variety of American Gins

  1. David,
    We are honored with another mega post from you, thank you. This is a real collection of lightly flavored Gin offerings from the USA. My favorites are Smugglers Notch Hopped for the different flavor and Oola for it’s sweetness and although both are relatively unusual for Gin this is why I probably have enjoyed them. However, personally I cannot help but wish for deeper and more pronounced flavor.
    Regards, David.

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