Gin Gents

Monthly Archive: April 2017





ABV: 46

PRICE: $30



Russ was confused…but it got better!

Photo by Jim Trotman…this is the bottle at the time we tasted….

The first time out, I wasn’t much impressed.
Out of the bottle and on the nose it seemed to have a chemical/medicinal aroma, with definite floral notes.
It was hard for me to detect juniper or other typical gin notes.
But we were at a party and there were other distractions, especially to the palate.
A week or so passed and there was still three-quarters of a bottle left, so I popped open some Fever Tree tonic, sliced up a lime and gave it a second shot.
Hmm. This time it worked. Better. Not awesome. But improved enough I’d try it again if I lived in a state that wasn’t a desert of alcohol selection.
The distiller’s notes say both tarragon and anise are present. I like both in small quantities, but they both can be bitter and maybe that is what put me off with the medicinal or harsher aroma.
This time I could detect some vanilla and pepper and juniper. The juniper was more subtle than I like, but it was no longer overly floral to my nose or palate and it held up well to the tonic and lime.
It was growing on me.
Hints of orange came through, and yes, cinnamon.
It’s not juniper-forward enough for me to make it top shelf, but it retains enough juniper and traditional botanicals to keep its gin street cred..and if I can ever find another bottle–a second try.
But it still falls a tad short of the kind of gin I’d recommend without hesitation.

For now, 3 of these cigar-smoking Prime Minister’s, which means you should try it and see for yourself!

The bottle then traveled to Jim’s abode….

The batch and bottle # in case the distiller’s ever find our meager website! Photo by Jim Trotman

I must confess this is my second take on Brandon’s. At an informal get-together at Russ’s place last month, I sampled this Arkansas gin. I was put off by the smell, I didn’t like the taste and hated the aftertaste. Giving it a sniff, I got a nose-full of what I can only describe as medicinal. Like that mineral

At an informal get-together at Russ’s place last month, I sampled this Arkansas gin. I was put off by the smell, I didn’t like the taste and hated the aftertaste. Giving it a sniff, I got a nose-full of what I can only describe as medicinal.

Like that mineral smell you get from opening a bottle of vitamins…
But I went home with the bottle, to visit it again when in a proper reviewer mindset. Still, when I re-sampled it, I still didn’t like it. And I wrote about it. And I put it aside, with the notion to hand it off to Harold at a later date.

This Labor Day weekend, I found myself on Saturday with only about an ounce of my regular gin left and with the ABC store closed for Hurricane Hermine. How dare they?

So, while the winds were whipping, bending the trees to horizontal and whatnot, I reached for the Brandon’s bottle. And I deleted the previous review.

Now, I’m not totally reversing gears here, but I am making a slight turn from my earlier dismissive take. I willfully put myself in a floral, herbal mood to get past those first scents. Letting the

Apparently this os the new bottle as it is featured on the website.

I willfully put myself in a floral, herbal mood to get past those first scents. Letting the gin linger awhile on the tongue finally let the juniper come forward, but with a wicked heat. After four sips over ice, I decided this was a gin that begs one to explore the complexity of its botany. It is work and for some people, it may be worth it.

I’ll hand it to the folks at Brandon’s, this is a gin that will challenge you. All in all, the long lasting aftertaste, for me anyway, will prevent me from giving this one a thumbs up. Seriously, fifteen minutes after my last sip, and it is still there.

But I think very many others may actually like that sort of thing so I’m not going full negative here.

Don’t worry Harold, there’s still plenty for you to try left in the bottle.

Harold liked it too–even without noticing any juniper!

I like Brandon’s!  Who would have thought a good gin would be made in Little Rock?!?

The initial cork pop scent is a combination of fruit, cloves, cinnamon and other spices.

From a shot glass, it was pleasant, smooth, (especially for 92 proof) and a little spicy—interesting enough that I tried more, and liked it more.

On the rocks, plain (my normal) it was really nice – not traditional gin tasting but pleasant and very smooth.

I can’t decide if it’s more flavored vodka-like or a really smooth gin like Boodles, although Boodles is clearly more distinctively gin.

I liked it so much I never added tonic.

Although I detected no Juniper, but a lot of fruit and spice flavors, they balanced well,  and I could drink a lot of this one!


Conniption American Dry Gin

Distillery: Durham (NC) Distillery

Style: American

Price: $35 (750 ml)

ABV:  44%


Jim’s Take…

All pictures by Jim Trotman

Photo by Jim Trotman Photo Note: Handsome bottle, with interesting graphics, but for the life of me, I devoted way too much time to try to figure out the hidden working on the inside back label. I can make out this much… “Good Graciousness… (letters out of order) Number sign, Question mark, Exclamation point… Us…Crying Out Loud.” But I’d need some psycho-active drugs to make any sense of it. And I don’t do that.

Sometimes, when American Gin makers work really hard to forge a taste all their own, they end up stumbling by putting all the effort into the effort, when a more straightforward approach perhaps would have been the route to take.

With Conniption, the Durham Distillery folks are eager to stress the two-step process where some of the botanicals are heated in the still and other, more delicate flavors are infused via a low-pressure vacuum. That’s a lot of work.

What we end up with here is a gin that blasts its floral essence into your olfactory zone, bringing along what seems to be the essence of cucumbers macerated in honey. I found this to be both sharp and sweet, floral and herbal, spicy and fruity and, dare I say, heavy.

This will find an audience, at least here in North Carolina, which as of printing is the only state in which it is available. I’m quite certain any Duke or Durham Bulls fan who fancies gin will grab a bottle for posterity at least, and some may come to love it because, well, its from Durham. And who doesn’t like something that reminds them of “Crash,” “Nuke” and “Annie?” Right?

For that matter, it may well have been composed on the notion of “build it, and they will come and buy it.” Okay, enough with the inside baseball movie stuff.

Saying this gin is complex is a nice way of saying there is just too much circus happening at once here. The lady with the whip is dealing with the lions, while the three elephants are balancing on beach balls while the trapeze artists are flying above it all. You just want to tell it to slow DOWN! One taste at a time!

Maybe that is the point of Conniption. It gives you a fit.


If you are a fan of all things Durham, this is one for your man cave. If not, eh…

Over at Russ’s house….

Wow! But not in a good “wow!” kind of way.
Flowers, flowers everywhere and then a ton of citrus.
Which is a continuing problem we continue to harp on here at Gin Gents.
We love the revolution in gin, we love the explosion of new distilleries and we love the fact that ‘Merica is producing the stuff–so long tied to Mother England.
But this stuff was like lying down in a field of freshly bloomed spring flowers. And then drinking it. With a twist of citrus. Which made it worse.
Not gin, and not good.
But aptly named. If you are a discerning gin lover, you may throw a “conniption fit”, especially at $35 a pop!

Harold says………

The bottle is squarish and cool with copper and black lettering and says “traditional small batch”, but “merged” with modern lab techniques – whatever that means.

I didn’t read the label first (never do when reviewing), I just popped the cork and the smell was flowery, touch of citrus.

First taste from a shot glass warm gave no burn, but an odd non-gin taste (peat moss was my first thought, then tea, some herb, or maybe an herbal tea was my second).

Poured a shot over ice in a chilled glass with a squeeze of lime (my normal). Tasted like cardboard with an earthy, woodsy, flowery taste. My mind was drawn to the movie Bull Durham, and maybe the taste of the bath water with Susan Sarandon’s perfume and Kevin Costner’s sweat mixed together. If that’s your thing, buy it.

No matter how I tried I couldn’t finish my first full glass over ice. I added more ice, tonic, let it sit and nothing worked for me. I poured half of that first (and only) drink down the sink. Maybe you’d like it. I really didn’t. Sorry, Durham!