A few months ago, on a night out with friends in London, I came across Seagrams Extra Dry Gin. We found a bar with half a dozen gins and the Seagrams was one of them; after a couple of distinctly lack-lustre G&Ts we tried it and were blown away.
I try not to judge a gin after a night out on the town, so I had to get hold of a bottle to try in the comfort of my own home.
Seagrams is the top selling gin in the USA and while this gives it some credence, Gordon’s is the top-seller in the UK and this left me a little underwhelmed.
Seagrams gin is distilled using a ‘unique’ low temperature vacuum distillation process; details of this are scant and the word ‘unique’ is likely a matter of perspective (Oxley and Sacred spring readily to mind). It is also aged, or rested, for three months in charred oak barrels, which gives it its faint straw-yellow colour and mellows the flavours somewhat.
The botanicals listed on the Seagrams site we are…
- Angelica Root
The bottle is rather unique in that it is covered in little lumps and bobbles and the sides are indented, giving it a good grip in the hand. The cap is a metal screw-cap, but for the price, you can’t have it all.
At around £15 per bottle, this is a reasonably-priced gin and I understand it is cheaper still in the US.
Opening the bottle and giving it a sniff reveals all the right smells, but it lacks character; there is juniper at the fore, but only just.
Sampled neat, and with a dash of water, Seagrams is fairly smooth but it lacks spice. There are plenty of sweet, earthy elements from the angelica root and a faint tingle of citrus to back the juniper, but to my mind, it needs more spice. There is a sweet-creaminess to this gin that almost borders on coconut. The juniper is to the fore, but not really dominant.
In a G&T, Seagrams is a little lost; it is pleasant enough, but considering that Brecon Gin is only £2 more and makes a much better G&T, I am not sure it is worth it. With a dash of orange and cardamom bitters, it livens the G&T up a lot, but I am looking for something to stand well on its own.
As far as fairly neutral, generic gins are concerned, it is pretty good and will make a good versatile addition to the drinks cupboard; you should be able to mix it with most things and it generate some safe but unexciting results.
This experience is a far cry from how I remember it that night out in London, and this is why I like to quaff and review in the comfort of home. It could be that Seagrams works very well with Schweppes tonic water, which the pub had and I didn’t, it could just be that we were approaching a level of inebriation that makes anything seem rather appealing.
As for why it is the best-selling gin in the US, it is cheap and isn’t bad. I would be happy to see this as a house gin in the UK rather than Gordon’s. Beefeater probably has the edge though.