Bluecoat Gin becomes 'official'

William M. Dowd photo

When I was a newspaper editor for more than 40 years, the joke used to be that too many people didn't think anything was official until they read it in The New York Times.

In today's Times food section, Florence Fabricant refers to "A new gin from Philadelphia, Bluecoat ... ." So, I guess it's official.

There is one problem with that pronouncement. I first wrote about Bluecoat 36 months ago, when it really was new.

Bluecoat is a formidable entry in the resurgent gin category, packaged in a beautiful blue, embossed bottle with a wooden stopper that give it an old-fashioned, enticing appearance.

I gave it the usual gin taste test -- straight and in a traditional martini. It passed with flying colors in both ways, and a follow-up tasting with several other people met with uniformly high marks.

Bluecoat is a 94-proof concoction with the distinctive, earthy gin flavor of organic juniper berries, but noticeably balanced with notes of citrus, spice and florals. Its smoothness is evident, thanks to batch distillation that requires very slow heating of the pot, allowing for maximum separation of alcohols and removal of impurities. That is particularly apparent in the straight-taste trial, and also aids in the mixing with Noilly Pratt dry vermouth for a superb martini.

Suggested retail price: $28 for the 750ml bottle.

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Anonymous said...

Mr. Dowd: Did you use the NEW Noilly-Pratt dry vermouth in your Martini test, or the old version, which was available when you first wrote about Bluecoat gin 36 months ago?

I agree with Eric Felten - the new Noilly-Pratt dry vermouth makes for a terrible Martini. Better to use Dolin.

Bill Dowd said...

Dear Anonymous:

The short answer: I used the "old" version of Noilly Pratt.

The longer answer, with some clarifications:

The "new" recipe Noilly, available in Europe -- where I first tried it -- for a number of years, was not in the U.S. market until early in 2009.

You can read about my report on its release here by going here.

Also, I strongly disagree that the "new" Noilly Pratt makes a terrible martini. I rang in the New Year last night with a small dinner party at which the featured cocktail was a martini I made with the excellent French gin Citadelle and Noilly Pratt. The responses were superb, as were the martinis.