Midway through the movie Fight Club, Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) drags Raymond K. Hessel out behind a convenience store and threatens to kill him if he doesn’t continue to pursue his dreams of becoming a veterinarian. Brad Pitt cocks a handgun and yells, “the question, Raymond, was ‘What did you want to be?'” Meanwhile, Edward Norton shifts uncomfortably from foot to foot in the background.
Yeah, tasting Corsair Artisinal Gin is a bit like that. I’ll explain.
From the very pop of the cork, Corsair Gin lives up to the marketing on its label. This gin is aggressively aromatic, but it isn’t juniper that smacks you in the face – it’s the full-bodied, oily smells of tea, rosemary, and thyme. Perhaps accompanied by some high citrus notes. So as I poured my first taste of this gin, I fully expected to be experience a bourbon masquerading in gin’s clothing.
To be sure, the taste of Corsair is full-bodied, brazen and cocksure. No one is going to mistake Corsair for a traditional gin. If you didn’t know, you would mistake this gin for more than the 88 proof on its label. Many of the same notes at first (rosemary, tea) but then the gin begins to unfold on your palette and you discover that there is a lot more going on here than you expected. The citrus shifts a bit more to the forefront, some traces of juniper, broad mouthfeel and peppery finish.
Corsair seems to enjoy the art of distillation, and most of its experiments end up being whiskeys, bourbons, smoked (anything), ryes and moonshine. Looking at the gin from this perspective, it clearly reflects its heritage. In many ways it reminds me of a rye or barrel-aged gin. This heritage seems to wholeheartedly embrace Nashville, making it an interesting creation from a “terroir” perspective.
Just like a good bourbon, it’s a fascinating gin to taste by itself. A great gin to sip over ice or even in a martini (in which a lemon twist does draw out the citrus).
I can imagine this gin being frustrating to a bartender. Even though it does contain some subtleties, its unusual construction makes it practically impossible to use in traditional gin cocktails. It really isn’t suitable for a gin & tonic. That said, I experimented with some success by using this gin a little bit more like its bourbon brethren. Drinks like an East Ender (which is essentially a Manhattan with gin standing in for the bourbon) were compelling.
All of this is to say that Corsair is a maniacally aggressive gin (“The question, Raymond, was ‘what did you want to be?'”). I get the impression that this is the point, but it stretches the boundaries of gin, and would turn off some gin lovers. It is subtle and intelligent in some very deviceful and creative ways. But it’s caught between two different worlds (could one of them be imaginary?) making it not the type of gin you’d introduce to your parents (or gift a friend).
Corsair Artisan, LLC
44% Alc. by volume