- Jonathan Winters
Forthave Blue Gin Review
Feeling a little Blue.
Review Forthave Blue gin
Made in: Brooklyn, New York by Forthave Spirits.
Method: Pot still.
43% alcohol/86 proof
Known Botanicals: Juniper, mint, grapefruit, lavender, rose, cubeb seeds, lemon.
Not known (12 more), but suspected: orris root, anise, orange zest, angelica root, coriander
Style: Modern gin
If you read my review of Martin Miller’s gin a few days back, you know I’m on a kick of reviewing the few gins with bottles so tall that they don’t actually fit in my gin cabinet. This is one of them that has been sitting around for a while. I picked it up in Brooklyn several months back just before this whole COVID thing really kicked up. Honestly, my initial impression then was that I hated it, and thought it was awful. But a funny thing happened, when I broke it out again to make this review, my entire opinion changed. This is by no means a bad gin but a complex and enjoyable one..
Now Forthave’s website is perhaps one of the most spartan pages I’ve ever seen for any spirit - not kidding, contact page aside, they have TWELVE sentences of information on their whole site - covering three different spirits. The gin rates just two of those. Clearly, or maybe not so clearly, as this is an unfiltered gin, I wanted more information so I reached out to the distiller.
If they don’t reply now we’ll base it upon one sentence from their website which tells how a botanist named Richard Belhave created an herbal tonic, in the 15th century to help ward off the black plague. Hence the name of their distillery (which also is the family name of the distiller). While I have my doubts it worked to ward off plague, it certainly can make us feel a bit better in the time of COVID.
After I wrote this they got back to me, and let me know how, they ended up getting into gin. Initially their interest was in herbal mixtures for making amaro, digestivos and aperitivos, but they soon realized that gin, itself is a herbal mixture and took the lessons they had learned in the making of those to create a rather unique gin.
My initial taste of this gin, back in February was on the rocks, and the truth is I really didn’t like it then. I’m not sure if this bottle oxidized a bit since opening, or if my taste buds were badly off that winter, but tasting it over this past weekend has wildly changed my opinion of this gin.
Neat this gin has a bit too much heat and is quite acrid. But once it opens up with a bit of ice it takes on a slightly milky opalescence and mellows nicely, transforming into something you can sip and enjoy straight, as it is the best way to taste the multiple layers of flavor in this gin.
A deep inhalation through the nose, reveals strong scents of bitter lemon, pine, coriander and even a hint of olive. There is a touch of floral lingering behind those flavors.
This gin is not a sledgehammer tastewise. It’s subtle and refreshing. While you can certainly taste the juniper, this is not a juniper forward gin, but one which hits you with a whole herbal bounty in each sip. Each sip seems to offer a a new layer of flavors. Lavender and rose, pull this whole thing together, but you can clearly taste grapefruit, mint, lemon, pepper, and hints of licorice as you drink this.
On the mouth the feel is velvety and slightly dry.
This is a gin best in very spirit forward cocktails. The subtle notes in Blue will best be tasted that way.
While I prefer a very dry martini, this one isn’t best that way but with a mix of good quality vermouth at a 4:1 to 6:1 ratio. I found it sublime when ice cold ( and just slightly milky from being shaken) with a touch of Noilly Prat and served up with a pimento stuffed olive. It was my favorite way to enjoy Blue.
But to be fair the gin and tonic, made with some Fever Tree Elderflower tonic was almost as good. The melding of the flavors between the gin and the tonic, struck all the right notes, giving the gin a hint of sweetness that complimented the subtle tastes of mint, melon, cucumber and grapefruit. I’d be happy to serve this at a social gathering.
The subtle nature of Blue however didn’t really lend itself to as many mixed drinks. It took a backseat in a Collins, and Aviation, but was much better in a Martinez. However where it really stood out was in Forthave’s wheelhouse - the negroni. Here the herbal mixture of the gin, bitters and vermouth really meshed. It made arguably one of the best negroni’s I’ve ever had (and to be honest I’ve never loved negroni’s but this one was remarkably good).
This is a gin sipper’s gin - and in that, like many great gins, it’s not meant for everything, or everyone. If you are making strong flavored drinks, mules, collins, or even gin and juice, move along - this is not the right gin, especially as it’s on the pricey side.
But if you want to savor it on the rocks, or in a martini, or as a gin and tonic (tip use higher end mixers here - bad ones will overwhelm this gin - and I highly recommend an elderflower tonic), you’ll enjoy this one - there are lots of complex flavors and a good mouthfeel.
Overall rating: 85 - but you can bump it up a few points, if you are looking for a sipping gin, or want something special in a negroni. It's a bit on the pricey side, but it has multiple layers of flavor, which the discerning gin fan will appreciate.
What you need to know about reviews: All my reviews are my honest opinions based upon my own personal tasting. I am NOT a paid reviewer, and no compensation was given, or expected. I may from time to time choose to do a second review and amend my opinion of a product, should I feel like it and find my review criteria has evolved, or that I’ve found it different at a later date. That said, as I’m unlikely to repurchase anything I thought was less than very good to excellent, it would be by chance or at the request of a distiller who thought I rated them very unfairly - BUT even then, whatever you get will always be my honest opinion.