"The spirit we call gin has, within it, an intricate societal role that is still unraveling today. At the moment, we are riding the wave of a new gin revival thanks to a remarkable number of new producers--as well as established distillers--who have introduced a wide range of unusual botanicals to create stunning new flavor profiles. The journey is not over and the adventure has only begun."
Matt Teacher, author of the newly released The Spirit of Gin: A Stirring Miscellany of the New Gin Revival (Cider Mill Press), went on quite the adventure while gathering the material for this lovingly crafted reference, dedicated to my favorite spirit. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of it last week.Teacher's energy and excitement for gin carried him on a global adventure, as he rode the wave of the new gin revival, touring reputed gin joints and distilleries and interviewing their lauded proprietors. I'm
Teacher's gin opus contains brief narratives of his encounters at various gin hot-spots around the world, written with such curiosity and love for the spirit that you wish you'd been
Along his journey, Teacher was challenged (and through him, now, so am I), to truly delve into the complexity of the spirit. At The London Gin Club (22 Great Chapel Street, Soho, London), Teacher met with Julia Forte, who serves each gin with a specific garnish or tonic, "to either pair... or contrast with the leading botanical," in order to highlight each gin's unique flavor profile. "A distinction," Teacher notes, "not made in the United States," where we tend to just throw a lime on the side.
While meeting with Alessandro Palazzi at Dukes Bar (Dukes Hotel, St. James's Place, London), Teacher noted that there wasn't a single ice cube in site. The glasses and the spirits came straight out of the freezer. Palazzi explained how gin "thickens" and "texturally develops when stored in the freezer." While I have noted how chilling a spirit will effect its flavor profile, I never considered how it might effect the texture or viscosity of the drink. I must explore this more in the near future.
The book is illustrated throughout with vintage gin ads, historical photographs, vintage and modern gin labels, and countless cocktail recipes Teacher encountered along the way. The final section of the book (nearly the last half) consists of a Catalog of Gin Distillers, which lists over 160 gin distillers in alphabetical order, along with some notes on each distiller. Needless to say, I now have a very long "shopping list" of gins to add to my collection that I was previously unaware of.
After one of his interviews, Teacher notes that, "Gin is an art, and those who create it and mix it are using their intellect to balance flavors and stimulate taste buds." I couldn't agree more.
Cheers and Happy Reading!