Rieger’s Midwestern Dry Gin Review
Updated: Aug 27, 2020
A master distiller for Tanqueray puts his own spin on gin
Review Rieger’s Midwestern Dry Gin
Made in: Kansas City, MO, by J Rieger Distillery
46% alcohol/92 proof
Botanicals: Juniper berry, orange peel, angelica root, licorice root, coriander.
Style: Classic gin
I think you’d have to have had some serious cojones to say no to Tom Nichols, a former master distiller from Tanqueray, who now worked for you at Rieger’s when he proposed making his own take on gin before he retired. I don’t think I could have done it, nor did whoever as in charge of Rieger’s when the subject came up.
I have no idea just what exactly he proposed, but what they produced was what they call midwestern dry gin. A gin which plays direct homage to the classical style of gin that we all think of when we see a bottle that says London dry on it.
It’s botanical mix is pretty standard, with nothing far out of the ordinary. And the bottle certainly is ordinary too. But at a premium gin price from someone who produced a top brand for decades I certainly didn’t expect ordinary.
On the back of the bottle there is a message from Tom, saying that he couldn’t have retired without making his own signature product, but Tom, you could have - especially as I hate writing bad reviews.
Tasted neat this gin is honestly dreadful. It’s far too hot and has a roughness that was hard to forgive and ran roughshod over the botanicals. While it mellowed dramatically and opened up when served on ice after a few minutes it failed to make me want to put this in the rotation of gins I’d sip on ice. It’s just a little too hot, and well, too ordinary.
The nose is juniper, and orange with just a tinge of licorice.
On the tongue however it’s the bitterness of the orange peel and the sweetness and muskiness of the angelica, that really grabbed me. They couldn’t overcome the juniper, or the roughness of the base spirit, but they could clearly be tasted while the licorice was just the tiniest wisp left gin in the aftertaste
Texture wise, it’s almost powdery dry, with barely enough creaminess to counter the dryness, however it’s so dry that the tastes just don’t linger on the palate at all.
For the price of a premium gin, I’d expect a much better sipping gin, but as always I judge gin by how it is in cocktails too. So I thought I’d give it the test in a few classics.
It was just too hot in a martini - it literally burned leading me to cough.
Rather than break out the cheap tonic water, I decided to go with a premium tonic to let me see what the gin could do in a G&T. There is floundered again. It lacked the roundness and depth of taste we usually find in a gin and tonic. And while the heat was not so much of an issue, the botanicals just failed to really stand up. You could say it was mostly harmless, at least as harmless as a 92 proof spirit can be.
So lastly I decided to try it in a more intense mixed drink. I debated between the Negroni, or a Tom Collins so I decided to give it a go in both.
To be fair I thought it was fine in a Negroni, but as I’m far from a huge Negroni fan, I turned to the Tom Collins for a little more checking - only to find I was out of simple syrup and as I was bit too lazy to make more, I substituted a ghost pepper laced simple syrup given to me by a friend. It added so much heat that any heat from the gin was gone. But the gin certainly didn’t stand out.
Honestly, this is fine. But that’s all it is. It’s not a special gin, nor a memorable one. At this price point it’s one I’d leave on the shelves and opt for Flower City, Breckenridge, or one of the less expensive big brands. Save this one for mixing drinks where gin isn’t going to be a standout ingredient.
Overall rating: 71. It just fails to live up to the expectations, especially at a premium gin price.
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 though I rated them very unfairly - BUT even then, whatever you get will always be my honest opinion.