Gin, generally speaking, is not a liquor that you normally think of in terms of drinking straight. You mix it with tonic, or with lemon and soda and simple syrup, or you stir in some vermouth and make a martini, or shake it up with egg whites and grenadine, or whatever. Lately I’ve seen a lot of gin cocktails that try to mimic the mezcal craze by incorporating a drop of Laphroaig, and it works really well. But drinking gin straight is something you associate with comical visions of 19th century drunkards wobbling about on a London street corner, not sophisticated modern human beings.
There are a few exceptions, though, and my hands-down favorite gin (and therefore hands-down favorite liquor) is one of those rarities that works perfectly well taken straight over a little ice. It’s the single-malt scotch of gins: You could use it as a mixer, but that’s kind of missing the point. (Though, it is wonderful with a splash of good tonic, e.g. Fever Tree.) This treasure from the liquor gods is a product called Nolet’s Silver.
Supposedly, Nolet’s is the very first gin ever. I don’t know if I believe that, precisely, but it certainly is excellent. Despite being billed as a “dry” gin, it’s far more floral than your typical gin, with a very soft and full flavor that does not resemble the sharp, almost medicinal quality you typically associate with the drink. It’s a step or two beyond something like Hendrick’s in terms of fragrance and flavors, so it’s not really dry as I tend to think of it. It is excellent, however, and all the pine and juniper notes that make gin what it is lurk beneath the surface. Yet they do so in a subtle way that complements the flavor of the gin rather than overpowering it.
Nolet’s Silver is the kind of bottle you buy for someone you love. (My sister-in-law gave me a bottle for Christmas, and I recently purchased one in turn for my wife’s cousin, who has just successfully conquered cancer.) It’s not super expensive — it usually goes for about $40 a bottle or so, which is about on par with most mid-range gins — but it feels indulgent. For one thing, none of the alcoholic beverage control shops in my state carry it, so you have to go out of your way to buy a bottle. But also, it’s just so good. Flavorful, subtle, and classy. The bottle is super thick green glass with a metal stopper, and you could probably kill a man with it. You know it’s good liquor when it comes in a bottle that would easily win you a bar fight.
Nolet does make one other gin: Nolet’s Reserve. It costs about $700 a bottle. Someday, when I am rich, I will try a bottle. In the meantime, though, I’m perfectly happy with the lower-tier stuff, and honestly the idea that there could be better gin than this seems almost incomprehensible.