• Jonathan Winters

Trader Joe’s Art of the Still Organic Gin Review


Pluses are cheap, and organic..


Review: Trader Joe’s Art of the Still Organic Gin

Made in:

Base: Corn

Method: ?

40% alcohol/80 proof


Botanicals : Juniper, sage, coriander, angelica, more.


Style: Modern Gin

I have to admit finding non-mass produced gin in Northern California was a lot harder than I expected it to be. Pretty much every shop I went into had the same standard gin. I have to admit I passed on each and every one, since I could find local gins in a lot of the restaurants. Then because I wanted to throw a few things into my hotel mini fridge I stepped into Trader Joe’s (as it was the first supermarket I found).


There on the shelf was a revelation to an east coast boy. Trader Joes out west not only sold spirits (here they only sell wine and beer), and that they had their own brand. There on the shelf was Trader Joe’s Art of the Still Organic Gin. Now in general I think Trader Joe’s makes some very decent products, but I have to admit I hesitated about buying their own branded gin, especially when priced at less than $15. That set the bar of my expectations pretty low.


But still, when faced with standards like Seagram’s Bombay, Tanqueray, etc, and something I had never tried, sometimes you have to say why not?


So what’s in the bottle? Let’s find out.


Tasting notes


My initial impression when sipping the gin is that it is very astringent and hot. Part of that certainly is the botanical mix, but the ethanol of the base spirit is very strong both neat and on the rocks. The other things that leapt out at me was a very subdued flavor profile with just the faintest hint of juniper.


Based on what I tasted, and notes from some other reviewers, I strongly suspect that this is not a really fixed recipe, and that it may very well vary distinctly from batch to batch. That is NOT a good thing. This is what I thought of with the bottle I tasted


Nose has a lot of cinnamon and sage in the front. In the back you’ll find angelica and very faint traces of juniper.


Flavorwise there is a good dose of spicy sage oil, eucalyptus, and a strong backend of cassia or cinnamon. Aside from that you are not getting a huge amount of traditional flavors, (or any flavors) here. Muddled in the middle and rather fain are ginger, bay, and finally juniper (which seemed oddly artificial). You might also find a faint trace of lavender but wow was it faint. In fact flavorwise there just isn’t a huge amount here - it’s a weakly flavored spirit - one of the weakest I’ve tasted.


On the tongue it was surprisingly dry and cool, you definitely feel the ethanol here.


Mixability:


This is a gin to buy as a mixer, and not for overly refined tastes.


At best this was just ok in a gin and tonic, and I have a hard time recommending you spend the money on a high end tonic to go with it. The flavors just fall flat and there are too many discordant notes to mesh well with good tonic. Stick to cheap tonic and it’s ok.


It failed to stand up as a martini gin. There aren’t enough notes of flavor to really define it as a good gin. You get the sage, and that slightly overwhelming cinnamon backend, but it really lacked depth.


As a mixer, it is more of a source of alcohol than it is of flavor. I’d call it more vodka-like than gin-like. It worked fine in drinks, like a gin and juice, or a Finnish long drink. Basically stick to drinks where the flavors to the gin are well drowned out.


Overall


This is middle to low end well gin. The botanicals are ill definied, and the gin consequently lacks in flavor. It will work well for people who don’t really like gin, or folks who just want to get a bit drunk. But those looking for higher end cocktails should really look elsewhere.


Please note in this case the flavor profile is VERY deceptive. These represent the strength flavors compared to others within the gin, not the strength of what you will taste. So this is a very sage forward gin, and cinnamon dominated background, but that is pretty much all you really taste.


Flavor profile.

spice: 4/5

Herbal: 5/5

Juniper 1/5

Floral 0.5/5

Citrus 0/5

Heat 3.5/5


Rating (Sipping): 68 - poorly balanced, not one note, but not far from it..

Rating (Mixing): 74 - a well gin in terms of mixing, but it lacks the strong backbone that many cocktails call for.

Overall rating: 72 - Fine as a low to mid range well gin, don’t expect more.


 

What you need to know about my 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.


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