Stretton's London Dry
86 Proof Gin, Imported from South Africa
Typical Price: About $13 for 750ml
Ever since vodka took over the reins as the most popular neutral grain spirit, we think gin has been getting a bad rap. For a lot of people looking for refreshing and palate-pleasing cocktails, the pine cone tang of juniper berries is the last thing on their minds when they belly up to the bar. We have to admit even we are guilty of falling into the gin-free category over the past few years, but our avoidance of the spirit is mostly due to pleas from our friends and family who had had enough of our pine-scented belligerence when we're one gin and tonic too deep.
So what turned us around on the spirit once known as Dutch Courage? For one thing, we found out it was originally distilled in Holland as a remedy for stomach pain, gout and gallstones, and we're all about taking our medicine, especially when it's suspended in alcohol. For two, we got our hands on a bottle of Stretton's London Dry, a South African spirit distilled from sugar cane. It came to us highly recommended, so we decided to end our gin drought and give it a whirl.
When we unscrewed the cap we were preparing ourselves for the industrial, medicinal smell we associate with gin, but instead it had a mellower, but still evergreen, scent. When we tasted it, we were impressed with the smoothness, with no bite on the back end, and it had a more complex flavor than we would have expected for the price. The label says Stretton's contains coriander, juniper berries, angelica root, cassia bark and dried orange peel...we don't know what half of those things are, but there was definitely a citrusy taste to be found. All in all a pleasant experience, and we could already tell it would be a worthy mid-range gin.
Drink Recipes: As far as we're concerned, there are only two drinks that contain gin - the martini and the gin and tonic. We made our martini extra-dry, with just a splash of vermouth, and it was really very tasty. As for the tonic, you can't really mess that one up...the citrusy taste of the gin did blend well with the tonic and lime we added, and we had a feeling we could get ourselves into a lot of trouble if we constantly had a bottle of Stretton's lying around.
Another drink we'd never had but wanted to try was the Tom Collins, and the Stretton's bottle gave us a great excuse. We found a recipe and whipped up a batch, and we can see why people like these guys enough that they have their own glass named after them.
Tom Collins Recipe
2 oz gin
1 oz lemon juice
1 tsp superfine sugar
3 oz club soda
1 maraschino cherry
1 slice orange
In a shaker half-filled with ice cubes, combine the gin, lemon juice, and sugar. Shake well. Strain into a Collins glass almost filled with ice cubes. Add the club soda. Stir and garnish with the cherry and the orange slice. Recipe via DrinksMixer.com.
Finishing Thoughts: All in all, we were impressed with how Stretton's measured up to other gins we've tried. We liked it better than the Beefeater and Tanqueray we typically have, and we'd be interested in doing a blind taste test against some top-shelf bottles with our gin-drinking friends. We recommend Stretton's as a starter gin for people who don't think they like the stuff, and for the price we have definitely not tasted a better gin this year.
Stretton's London Dry is imported from South Africa by Berniko, and while we couldn't find any mention of it on their website, you can try to find more information at Berniko.com.
Jake Jamieson at Permalink
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