It’s been a while since I’ve posted on the website so it’d have to be something pretty special for my first post back and indeed it is, the return of Booth’s Finest Old Dry Gin. Booth’s is one of the oldest if not the oldest gin house that is still in operation today, founded in 1740 by Sir Felix Booth in London.
Booth’s Gin became increasingly popular during the 20th century and features in many Post-war films (look out for the hexagonal bottle). There were two main varieties Booth’s High and Dry, a classic style London Gin and Booth’s Finest Old Dry Gin which was also known as Booth’s House of Lord’s Gin.
This second variety of Booth’s was distilled in Clerkenwell, London and was matured in wooden casks which were, at least at one point, ex-burgundy casks and more commonly ex-sherry casks. This was sometimes known as a “yellow gin”, Booth’s discontinued theirs in the mid 1970s possibly slightly later. Noted drinks authors such as Anthony Haden-Guest, Kingsley Amis and David Embury, favoured yellow gin.
Unlike modern aged gins, Booth’s was (and is only) matured for a short period of time (typically weeks) the intention being for the wood to simply “kiss” the gin and help it to mellow, as such it is mixed like any normal dry gin.
There was an attempt to resurrect Booth’s in 2016 with a soft launch in New Orleans during the Tales of the Cocktail event of that year. But despite some international distribution not much became of the resurrection, perhaps in part as there was not much of marketing push and also possibly because there was a slight sulphur issue from the use of sherry casks.
The latest iteration appeared in July 2022 following the acquisition of Booth’s from Diageo by Sazerac company in November 2018. It is distilled in the UK, bottled at 43.0% ABV and matured in sherry casks – a the moment that’s about all I now.
~ But how does it taste? ~
Thankfully first up there are none of the slightly sulphury notes that I picked up on from the 2016 batch.
Colour: very pale straw
Nose: green resinous notes with pine blossom, cedar and pine, a touch of fruity florality
Taste: Clean texture, with a gentle touch of sweetness before some, floral, menthol spice, a touch of honey and a very mellow finish with a little sweet citrus.
Some of the woody gingerbread notes come forward a bit more, the slightly higher ABV help the gin with any dilution there may be from the ice; some slightly dry tannic notes from the wood.
Gin & Tonic
This is the sort of drink this gin was made for; it is ever so slightly woodier than some other gin and tonics I’ve had with yellow gin. As such I might be more inclined toward an orange or maybe lemon garnish to help balance the flavours.
In old adverts Booth’s is often described as “the best for a Martini” or making “the perfect Martini” thankfully the new gin lives up to this reputation, the drink is delightfully resinous with lots of juniper and some cedar and pine. Crisp, refreshing, superbly smooth – sublime!
A very, very mellow with quite a lot of orange coming through, juicy and even slightly jammy in a marmalade sort of way. A gentle bitterness on the finish but overall superbly integrated and approachable.
Rumour suggests that if the Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was to have a Pink Gin that Booth’s was her gin of choice.
I initially tried this with just gin and angostura bitters; the bitters goes well with the light woodiness of the gin, but for my money the drink is improved with the addition of a splash or two of still, ice-cold water; then each component really fits into place and the added dilution makes this a fine summer sipper.
Very clean and very crisp and works well with a lemon garnish. The slightly pencil-like woody notes of the gin come through but in a very pleasant way. A refreshing way to enjoy the gin without the sugar of tonic water.
It is great to see such an historic gin back on the market and it is already a firm favorite of mine. My favourite drink was the Martini.
Booth’s Finest Old Dry Gin is available now for around £35 for 70cl from Master of Malt and The Whisky Exchange.