Gin Gents

Who the hell is Jim?

All right now, my buddy Russ may remember this differently but here’s my take on how this all got started. At a dinner party, the topic of favorite gins came up.

Actually, what happened was Russ saw me pouring from a Tanqueray bottle and said, “Huh, you like that?” I told him it was among the couple of gins I enjoy, and in our seasonal economy out here on the Outer Banks, monies were flowing more in than out and I could afford it’s near $40 price for the moment.

I went on to offer that in winter months I shift to Booths, an adequate quaff for half the price. Not only is it decent for my tastes, the bottle is plastic, and therefore squeezable, rendering its contents more swiftly into your shaker.

However, my all time and current favorite was Boodles, but one can’t find it around these parts. Procurement of Boodles for me was limited to the rare occasions where my travels take me up to Mercury Boulevard in Hampton, Virginia, a full two hours distant by car and many more hours longer by pack animal.

Anyway, about a week later Laura and I came home from an errand to spot a paper bag at our doorstep. I approached it cautiously. Some neighborhood kid pulling a prank? A prank gone awry? You are supposed to light the bag on fire, ring the doorbell and… nah. That wasn’t it.

Closer inspection revealed the bag contained a bottle, a nice big bottle of Boodles London Dry Gin as it turned out. Lo and behold! Russ just couldn’t stand to see me drinking that Tanqueray.

He’ll have to fill you in on how he came to collecting gins. But I will say this much:

My buddy Russ has a bad habit… or a good habit, depending on if he shares with you or not. He likes to gather gins. Don’t believe me, just look at his “basement.” Okay, up here in the dunes of the Outer Banks, we don’t have basements. But we do have multi-storied homes, with the lowest level functioning much like a Midwestern Style basement. You might stick your washing machine down there. Maybe it is a place to store your home gym, perhaps an old dresser or table. All provide excellent horizontal storage space for bottles of gin. At least that is the case in Russ’s world. So there. I said it. Russ has a basement full of gin.

My point is that at some point, surveying his room full of gins, he realized he’d never be able to drink them all himself so he enlisted my aid. I was happy to oblige.

So, it occurred to us that sampling and reporting our impressions on the gins collected in our travels seems like a worthy distraction from our paying gigs. Perhaps the dear reader will enjoy it. And so herewith we begin.

As to why my gin tastes are usually so limited I must explain. It is because of the Byzantine, Draconian and darn near Fascist system of state controlled alcohol distribution in my state, the ABC Store situation.

We have Alcoholic Beverage Control Stores here in North Carolina, ABC stores for short, whereby the state determines what alcohol the populace can purchase and where. What could go wrong with that? Plenty. For one, there is zero competition among stores where one might purchase a gin. For the most part, among the ABC outlets here in Dare County, the gins available in Kitty Hawk will be the gins available in Nags Head and on Hatteras Island. For we gin drinkers that means we have only maybe 10 gins available, with 5 of them being low-end swill best avoided. When in fact, in the greater world there exists an ever-growing variety of gins both mass-produced and small craft labels.

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