An elite gin, with strong classical notes, and some wonderful differences.
Review Russell Henry London Dry Gin
Made in: Redwood Valley, California, USA, by Tamar Distillery
Method: Distilled in a Germain-Robin cognac still, and a Holstein pot still..
45% alcohol/90 proof
Botanicals (4 known): Juniper, Orris Root, Ginger, Lemon Peel, Coriander, Angelica
Style: London Dry
Russell Henry is the product of a collaboration between Craft Distillers and Tamer Distillery. They wanted to produce a fresh fruit gin that was better than what they felt was out there. They produce four different gins, London Dry, Hawaiian Ginger, Malaysian Lime, and Dark Gin.
Distilled in a two step process using both a Holstein Pot Still and an antique Germain-Robin still made for the distillation of cognac they produce a gin with a motto displayed on the label “Lighter than Air” along with a picture of an antique zeplin. The gin isn’t quite that light, but it is bright, whimsical, and easily manipulated by the subtleties of the ingredients with which it’s mixed.
This is a rare gin, in that it is an excellent gin when served neat, especially if slightly chilled, as it highlights refined lushness, and delicate floral and spicy notes that were quite pleasant and unexpected. Sipped neat, the gin retains a fair bit of heat, which a touch of ice or cold water nicely subdues. However you really don’t need much to tone down the heat and savor it this one.
Russell Henry’s nose is dominated by sweet citrus and juniper with a floral backnote.
The botanical mix here is a secret but there are a lot of layers of taste here. Juniper dominates the flavor profile, along with bitter lemon zest, sweet citrus, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, hints of licorice, and floral notes which I associate with orange blossom and tea roses.
The mouthfeel is very rich and cool with a slightly sharp finish.
With the spice and background floral notes that dominate this gin it seemed likely to be a great mixer.
In a dry martini, with a touch of Dolin, Russell Henry truly did not disappoint. It was crisp and clean, and brought its own slight olive taste, even without a martini olive in the mix (I was out so I had it with a twist, but taste-wise I would have sworn it was made with an olive). I’ll happily keep this one for classic martinis, but maybe not for flavored ones.
Mixed with Boylan Heritage Tonic Water Russell Henry made a good, albeit a bit bitter, Gin and Tonic. That wasn’t the fault of the gin, but relates to the bitterness of this particular tonic. It paired well with the spice of the tonic, but many of the subtle notes were somewhat obscured by the tonic. I suspect with something a bit less heavy on the quinine, like Fever Tree’s mediterranean or Q’s elderflower it would stand up much better.
In more complex drinks the London dry character came through admirably making for very good, but not exceptional cocktails, especially in regards to Southsides, and Aviations. However some of the unique and delicate nuances of the gin were certainly buried with the more complex flavors. I thought it best in a martini, and a French 75.
This is another one which ranks very high in the sipping categories, and is one of only a handful of gins I’d really rate highly as a gin you can drink neat.
In cocktails this gin pairs nicely with drinks that like pepper and spice, but like most gins it loses some of it’s best characteristic, in cocktails that are too complex. I think it was it’s best in martini’s, French 75s, and gin and tonics.
Rating (Sipping): 96 - This is a lovely sipping gin, one well worth having around for those times you want something near or on the rocks.
Rating (Mixing) 85 - If I was only considering it in martini’s I’d bump this one up by a full 5 points, but this is a gin so elegant, that some of that character is lost when you pile too many ingredients into a glass with it.
Overall rating: 91 -In the world of American gins this one is a standout, and a contender as one of the best London dry style gins made in the States.
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.