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Of all the spirits that abound upon this planet, I do believe gin has the most poisonous history of them all. Sure, white lightning and moonshine and absinthe are all right up there, but gin seems a bit more dangerous than even those contenders. It all started out innocently enough in the mid 17th century in Holland and Belgium where gin evolved from malt wine spirits and was originally called jenever or genever.

Back then, as today, the main ingredient is juniper berries, which gives gin that most distinctive ginny taste. However, back in the day, when those berries became hard to come by turpentine would be added to generate those resinous woody notes. On top of that, another common variation was to distill in the presence of sulphuric acid that resulted in a sweeter gin that purportedly included additional analgesic and intoxicating affects. I don’t know about you, but those nasty variants on bathtub gin would have made me switch to something else, even iced tea so as not to go blind or have necessary body parts fall off or even die. When it all comes down to it, I just don’t need a drink that badly. Well, maybe I do, but come on, there are hundreds of alternatives.

Another thing about the traditional gin recipe is that after juniper berries, the sky’s the limit as far as other botanicals go. Some even have added cucumber and rose petals for crying out loud. Caorunn is in this category, not that they use rose petals or cucumber but that hasn’t stopped them from getting mighty creative anyway. Since Caorunn is a Scottish gin, you might guess they somehow incorporate smoky peat into the mix but you’d be wrong. However, they do use 10 botanicals at least three of which I am sure you have never heard of. The usual suspects are; juniper berries (DUH), coriander seed, orange peel, lemon peel, angelica root and cassia bark. So far, so traditional; but then they add into this mix some unusual Celtic botanicals – rowan berry, bog myrtle, heather and coul blush apple.

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Well, with all that going on, it just might make for an interesting and complicated drink, so let’s see if all those ingredients play nice with each other. Caorunn comes in a squat clear bottle with clean graphics and design. As expected, the nose is fruity and complicated with juniper front and center followed by pepper and lemon and licorice and berry. Pleasantly, there is very little ethanol in the nose to get in the way of all those botanicals. Even with all those ingredients, the palate presents itself subtly. Again, juniper is first, eventually followed by lemon, coriander, pepper, orange and even a hint of apple. The amalgamated flavors are almost flowery and intertwine very nicely and very smoothly on the tongue with the alcohol way in the back and behaving politely. This is one very smooth, very deep flavored gin that is not overpowering, especially with all that’s going on in it. The finish is tasty and smooth and long leaving behind a gentle, natural scent and taste almost like a potpourri.

On the rocks, the background flavors come forward a bit and even though I can taste them and sense them I am not familiar enough with them to be able to fully describe each of them yet. Again, I am left with floral and fruity notes that sing a melodious harmony. This is a true summer sipper of a gin. Tonic water is almost too strong for this particular gin and should be used sparingly if at all. It seems that the best gin in the world doesn’t come from England but from Scotland as now my top two favorite gins are both Scottish and one of them is now Caorunn.

At around $30.00 per 750 ML (84 proof), it’s well worth the price. Life’s too short to drink inferior gin and sour milk so stay away from both and instead drink Caorunn. By the way, what in the hell are you doing drinking milk anyway??

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By George Brozowski

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