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[whitespace] Gin Bottle Pure Gin--ius!

With the newest high-end gin bottling, the proof isn't just in the pudding, it's in the hangoverless next morning

By Michael Stabile

When I was 18, I came to the conclusion that gin gave you wretched hangovers. It was at one of those parents-are-away New Year's Eve celebrations at which you end up playing card games and drinking with 30 or so leftover friends from high school who, too, are home for winter break. I thought gin was terribly sophisticated, having only recently developed a taste for tonic, and was still too green to realize that the G&T is a summer drink out of place in a snowdrift. By 4am I was not only taught the medicinal properties of the juniper tree, but was rubbing the alcohol on my wrists in a fit of East Egg glamour and pronouncing the discovery of a new cologne. The liquor fell out of favor with me soon after.

In fact, for a while, it seemed it had fallen out of favor with everyone else, too. When the mid-'90s cocktail craze hit, vodka, scotch and bourbon were its primary beneficiaries, due not in small part to the heavy marketing of high-end distillations of each liquor. Absolut begat Ketel One begat Belvedere begat Grey Goose and countless citrus infusions which offered barkeeps endless new drinks to invent and name. The stock-market boomers returned to the cachet offered by endlessly aged barrels of whiskey bearing labels and medals and bouquet and notes in a flurry of appellations once reserved for wine. Tequila made a similar stab at revitalization, with moderate successes like Patron and Herradura.

Bored and fickle generation that we are, it was inevitable that the bottle industry's bad boy would raise a few eyebrows after a makeover and better-quality distillation. Van Gogh gin, the newest premium from the production company which brought Ketel One vodka international acclaim half a decade ago, has reinvigorated a century-old gin distillery in Amsterdam known for its smooth, triple-distilled product. Unlike more well-known bottlings like Tanqueray, Beefeater and Bombay Sapphire, Van Gogh is decidedly subtler. No overbearing amount of juniper, no heavy emphasis on coriander or biting cassia bark--in Van Gogh, all the ingredients harmonize in a distinctive chorus of primary and secondary notes. Spanish lemon softens the more extreme flavors, while Javanese almonds binds others together. Van Gogh gin, like its namesake, is a highly integrated masterpiece.

Oh, and perhaps best of all, despite consuming large quantities of it, I woke up fresh and without a hangover--one of the many benefits of high-end liquors .

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From the October 11, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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