8 Shots: Letherbee Original Label Gin
Think of it as a very thorough tasting.
What follows is a review of a liquor and the experiences the writer had while consuming an unreasonable quantity of it.
The bartenders behind this Chicago label clearly went big on the botanicals. The gin makes a first impression when it’s still a wrist bend away. Juniper treats the septum like a trampoline, but it’s the sharper peppery note that gives a bit of pause. No matter, it’s incredibly smooth on the tongue – even if it tastes like licking a wreath.
A memorable tang – none of the sanded edges of a Beefeater here – hides the proof. That proof, by the way, is 96. Definitely wouldn’t have guessed that if it weren’t for this hacking cough. The alcohol burns in the back of the throat, but the pain subsides into a sort of lemon-y itch.
The scent is now cooking curry over an open flame in the superior turbinate sinus chamber and talking about squatter’s rights. The ice is beginning to melt and the mellowing effect is welcome. Too much of a good thing is great, but only when diluted.
Makes a decent dirty martini. It’s a flavor riot in there – the juniper freshness comes to blows pretty quickly with the rank cynicism of the last few olives in a month-old jar – but it’s compelling chaos. This definitely feels more like a beginning of the night drink than an end of the night drink and that’s fine because it’s going to take a while to finish.
It’s always surprising how fast the tongue surrenders to big tastes and ethanol. Throw them together and it just rolls over like a puppy.
The obvious virtue of Letherbee’s simplistic packaging is that cops aren’t going to slap you with an open container charge for hitting the street with a bottle in hand. The obvious virtue of gin is that it warms you the hell up, which matters a great deal on a night so chilly that the leggy girls in the lobby of the Trump International (waiting for tables at Jean Georges or men who have tables at Jean Georges) ignore the guy from coat check. The smell of rain on the street fits the taste profile, but flagging down a cab while holding a soldier remains a tricky proposition.
There’s a clarity to good gin. Not enough people drink it straight. Too many people break out those infuriatingly sized – unclear on whether they’re too big or too small – bottles of Schweppes tonic. No one in New York has malaria. People have headaches though and the juniper in Letherbee buries the plasticine smack of a handful of gel caps.
The cabbie looks pissed.