Bargain hunting? Searching for a hidden gem? This column will profile spirits known as “The Bottom Shelf”. Should you take the chance, or run like hell? Keep on reading and find out!
The spirit: Burnett’s London Dry Gin
The price: $10.99 (750 ML)
The strength: 40% ABV (80 proof)
Why I bought it: When I first came of drinking age, and before I was really into gin, I bought Burnett’s more than a couple of times. Of course, I did not know any better and as my tastes evolved, I began to realize what a cheap, horrible gin this was. However, a few weeks ago before quarantine really kicked into effect, I was at a different liquor store than normal. Running low on gin and seeing their outrageous prices for the good stuff, I said, “What the heck?” and nabbed a bottle of Burnett’s, which was the cheapest they had. Desperate times call for desperate measures. That, and they have updated their bottle and look (including using glass now instead of plastic) to at least give the appearance of a legitimate gin. Yes, I could hear my good friend and fellow gin enthusiast Lisa whispering in my ear, “You’re an adult now. You deserve better.” I should have listened.
The nose: Oh, it smells like gin alright. When you first pop the cap, you are hit with a strong and peppery botanical scent. However, the longer you sniff it, it begins to weaken and give off the aroma of a cleaning product you might find in the dollar store. Do I make a cocktail or polish the floor? Tough call.
The taste: Don’t get me wrong, this is not the worst gin I’ve ever had. In a gin and tonic (with more than enough tonic and lime juice), it resembles a cocktail you might get in a bar when you go for a rail drink at Happy Hour. However, the more you drink, the more overwhelming it becomes. The botanicals that may have seemed refreshing early on are now artificial in nature. The phrase “You get what you pay for” comes to mind.
What to use it for: Gin and tonics and heavily mixed cocktails such as a Long Island Iced Tea (unless you are concerned about that lingering pepper flavor). While I usually keep a middle-tier gin on hand for G & T’s and may use for an occasional martini every now and then, Burnett’s is strictly Bottom Shelf if something ever deserved that moniker. Even if you don’t hate this spirit, by any means do not use this in a martini…unless you are crafting it for someone you do not wish to visit you again.
Final grade: D.
Comments: The fact that this is drinkable and enjoys extremely mild success as a low-level mixer prevents this from being an F.
[…] Why I bought it: “The same taste as Tanqueray at half the price”. That was what a little sign said on the shelf below. It looked like the store typed it rather than this card being an advertisement or tagline from the distiller itself. The labeling was also of a higher-end design, and in an actual glass bottle. I was intrigued. For the price, I could not go wrong and there was no way it could be any worse than Burnett’s. […]