No. 3 London Dry Gin
Review: No 3 London Dry Gin 92/100
a Review by Chip Dykstra
Posted on July 04, 2011
Berry Bros. & Rudd is London’s oldest wine and spirits merchant with over 300 years of experience and tradition to draw on. They chose to use this expertise with a team of spirits experts creating the recipe which would be called No. 3 London Dry Gin. The recipe is based upon three fruits and three spices, and to those I shall speak to in the review. However, I shall say as a bit of foreshadowing, that sometimes artistry can be found in simplicity.
I first sampled the No. 3 Gin at a store called Lacombe Park Spirits in St. Albert, Alberta. I have come to know the proprietors, Karim and his brother Jeff, quite well over the past couple of years, and when Karim discovered that I was about to venture into a series of Gin reviews he insisted that I try one of his favourites. I was convinced after one sip that this was a gin which I wanted to review, and after contacting the website for No. 3 London Dry Gin, Ross Hendry from Berry Brothers & Rudd, arranged for me to receive a bottle sample.
It is with this sample bottle that I shall begin my review.
In the Bottle 5/5
The ‘N0. 3′ in the name of the gin is a reference to No. 3 St. James Street, London, the home of Berry Bros. & Rudd since 1698. The key on the stylish green bottle was inspired by the key that unlocks the Parlour door which is at the heart of the shop at No. 3 St. James Street. The key, therefore is symbolic of being granted entrance into the heritage and tradition of Berry Brothers & Rudd.
I like that kind of imagery and symbolism in a bottle presentation. I like even more that the No.3 Gin bottle fits easily on my bar shelf, and more importantly pours easily into my glass with an easy to grip bottle; and I like best the nice cork topper that crowns the presentation. Everything about this bottle design is solid.
In the Glass 9/10
When that first sample was poured for me at Lacombe Spirits, the first thing I noticed was the assertiveness of the aroma around the glass. I commented to Karim (the proprietor of Lacombe Park Spirits) that this was exactly how I liked my gin to smell in the glass. The nose was full of juniper, but it was not sharp and unpleasant, rather it was full of aromatics which lifted the juniper scent out of the glass and then surrounded it with floral notes and a beguiling sweetness.
In my private tasting room, I was greeted with exactly the same impressions each time I poured a sample into my glencairn glass. The juniper is foremost, but it is not astringent like juniper can be, rather it is firm but softened by the other botanicals in the gin. A sweet smell of orange liqueur is in the air beside the juniper; and a wisp of something more herbal is in the air as well. I find the lack of astringency in the aroma amazing considering that the spirit is bottled at 46 % alcohol by volume.
In the Mouth 56/60
Juniper leads out strongly into the mouth and can knock the taste-buds for a loop if you grab too much at a time. Although the juniper is firm and unrelenting upon the palate, the other botanicals each leave their mark as well. A lightly sweet orange flavour tends to soften the juniper. The angelica root gives the gin an earthy quality which is no doubt strengthened by an herbal and pungent cardamom. A peppery spiciness is carried forward by the grapefruit and orange peel and this spiciness is strengthened by the cardamom and coriander spices.
I taste all of these elements clearly when I sip the No. 3 gin, although some unexpected flavours were found as well. A light lemony balsam flavour is interwoven throughout, and a vague anise (licorice) flavour seems to appear and disappear as I sip.
Of course I wanted to experience a few cocktails with the No. 3 Gin. The first cocktail I made was my customary Key Lime Gimlet, but I also made a nice Darby Cocktail, and a great Lime Fizz. Everything tasted very good, and the juniper in the gin shone through the cocktails so clearly that I am extremely pleased that I pursued this review. I made a few other cocktails as well, and I have shared a couple of these at the bottom of review. One is a martini recipe straight from of the No. 3 London Dry Gin website, and the other is a tall, cold cocktail called the Bulldog Cooler.
In the Throat 13/15
The gin is rich and spicy, and exits with a fierce roar of spiciness. Although juniper dominated the No. 3 gin thoroughly in the glass and in the mouth, in the throat it is the coriander and the grapefruit zest which provides a long, dry and peppery finish.
The Afterburn 9/10
When I completed my review for Gordon’s Gin, I suggested that the flavour of the juniper was quite assertive and therefore person’s less acquainted with gin would find the flavour a little too intimidating. You might think that with the No. 3 London Dry Gin I would make the same recommendation, but I will not. The difference as they say is in the details. Gordon’s carried a bitter pith from the juniper throughout the experience, but even though I find the juniper flavour to be much stronger in the No. 3 Gin, I find the bitterness to be very subdued. The artistry of the No. 3 Gin is in how the six chosen botanicals interact and allow an assertive piny juniper taste to be carried through the gin without the bitter backdrop of angelica root and juniper having the upper hand. For me, this result of this artistry is marvelous!
You may read some of my other Gin Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
This suggested recipe is for those who want to enjoy the full flavour of No. 3 London Dry Gin in a classic Martini style cocktail. This recipe can be found on the No. 3 London Dry gin website, and although I rarely use recipes from industry I could not resist in this case.
No. 3 Classic Martini
3 drops Dry Vermouth
1 3/4 ounces No. 3 London dry Gin
Pour the Vermouth and the No. 3 Gin into a Metal Shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
strain into a cocktail glass
Squeeze the lemon peel to release some oil and add the peel to the cocktail.
And of course… enjoy!
Now for those who may want to enjoy the No. 3 London Dry Gin in a more relaxed afternoon cocktail, I have a second suggestion, the Bulldog Cooler.
The No. 3 Bulldog Cooler
2 oz No. 3 London Dry Gin
1/4 oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Sugar Syrup
Ginger Ale (or Lemon Lime Soda)
Fill a tall glass with Ice
Add the Gin, the Lemon Juice and the Sugar Syrup
Complete with Ginger ale
Garnish with a Lemon slice
My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret that score as follows:
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing spirit. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)