There are those who set the bar, and those who raise it.
Review Martin Miller’s Gin
Method: Copper pot still
40% alcohol/80 proof
Botanicals: Juniper, Coriander, angelica root, lime zest, licorice root, cassia bark, nutmeg, Florentine Iris.
Style: Modern gin with a classic London dry profile.
Why did I decide to review Martin Miller’s Original gin tonight? Honestly, it’s because the bottle was so tall it didn’t fit into my new cabinet, so finishing the review, and sharing the bottle seems the obvious way to handle it. And just FYI I have 3 other tall bottles that soon need to share Martin Miller’s fate.
Several months ago I was gifted this bottle by a friend who was a bit of a gin aficionado who told me this was his favorite gin available in the states. I had tried Martin Miller’s back in the early 2000s and recalled liking it a lot, but I hadn’t had it since. And while I remembered the gin, and maybe a bit of the darts tournament I tasted it at, I knew nothing about the company behind it.
So glass in hand I went to their website, learned what I could, and reached out to them to find out a bit more. At this point I’m not sure I’ve learned more from the information gleaned in this research, or from the tastes in the glass.
So what makes this gin different besides the botanicals? Maybe the fact they ship it raw, 1500 miles to Iceland to cut it to drinking strength with Icelandic spring water, which according to local legends has a bit of magic in it. Now a lot of distillers say their water is the key ingredient to their gin - and maybe it is. But Miller’s spins a good yarn by it. And maybe there is something to it. After all the gin isn’t just good, but very good.
Initially I would have classified this as a London dry gin, based on its overall taste, but with recent EU definitions of what a London Dry gin is, Martin Miller’s gin leaves that designation of the bottle.
If you want a gin you can sip neat, Martin Miller’s is a good choice. Even straight this gin isn’t overly hot. That said, it’s much better when cold as the gin has many delicate components which are only apparent with no, or only very light mixers.
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.
On the tongue, that lemon tastes far more like charred orange, and the olive tastes a bit more vegital - like a mixture of olive and cucumber water (with maybe a touch of celery). Towering behind those flavors are a powerful juniper base that keeps this gin feeling a lot more like a London dry than a more modern style of gin. After that, the orris/iris is hinted at along with a whisper of spice.
Mouthfeel is cool and lingering.
This a flavor profile that lends itself to mixing.
Where Miller’s really shines cocktail-wise is in a martini. It’s quite classic with that splash of olive/cucumber that combines the best of both worlds. I preferred it wet to dry, and thought it garnished really well with fresh mint, or a bit of star anise.
In a gin and tonic it was workmanlike with traditional tonic, flat with elderflower, but pretty darn good with Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic.
The last word in how it mixed in cocktails, is in fact the Last Word cocktail, which I love due to the fact it is a great use of Green Chartreuse. Mixed with equal portions of gin, fresh lime juice, Chartreuse, and Luxardo Maraschino Cherry liquour it makes for a complex, and not too sweet cocktail. While the gin is not the star of this drink the Martin Miller’s holds up quite well and makes for a wonderful drink.
This gin was groundbreaking when it came out, raising the bar past the Sapphires and Tanquerays that had been the vanguard of gin until that time. It has stood the test of time with moderate success it’s uniqueness has been diluted by the generations of gin that came behind it.
It’s still an excellent gin, and just a step or two above the old classics.
Overall rating: 91. This gin isn’t as unique as it once was. BUT it raised the bar for more traditional gins when it came out in the late 90s.
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.