Gin's a funny business. I grew up thinking gin was sort of stuff you needed tonic water to take the acidic edge off and keep it from eating through a glass. I stayed away because I didn't know any better. (Besides, every teenager knows vodka goes better with trash can punch.)
Sometime after I graduated college Bombay Sapphire hit the market and suddenly everyone was drinking gin again. A double Bombay Sapphire and tonic was seen as a luxury, and a signal you were going for broke early in the night. Those were strange days...
Thankfully, gin has changed dramatically these days. You can continue to buy bulk industrial-grade alcohol, but there are some amazing brands out there with flavors that a teenage me couldn't imagine.
Recently a friend from Michigan brought us a bottle of Liberator Gin as a gift and it rapidly became our favorite gin in the house.
Valentine's Liberator Gin is named after the B-24 Liberator Heavy Bomber produced in Detroit during World War II. Off the bat I was wary ("oh god, munitions grade booze!") but luckily it doesn't pack the same wallop. It does, however, have a surprising payload.
Valentine tells us...
"Liberator is clear with aromas of peppery cinnamon, honey cardamom pastry, dried citrus, and candied juniper with a silky, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a zesty mélange of citrus, herbal roots, anise, pink peppercorn, and cinnamon bark on the long finish."
That's a lot of brand promise and cynical me wasn't so sure about how much of a mélange I wanted in my gin. However, after my first sip I'll be damned if most of those notes came out. There's a dark zest underneath the brighter notes when you first sniff it, and sure enough that dark cinnamon was there on the back end.
There's a lot of wonderful complexity here, making it perfect for mixing in cocktails that don't feature another overpowering ingredient. Let's be clear, this isn't a gin for mixing with tonic and forgetting about it. It's perfect in a cocktail that needs complexity and something different on the nose.
It's become our go-to for a White Negroni and we're rationing it carefully, so I don't see us getting cavalier and pouring it in a G&T any time soon. (Rationing man, rationing.)
Grab a bottle if you can find it, and get all the details at Valentine Distilling.