Martin Miller started making gin well before the gin renaissance of the last decade. And for gin drinkers, Miller’s is not a secret. Since its inception in 1999 (and release of the Westbourne Strength variant in 2003), Miller’s has been heaped with praise from the Beverage Tasting Institute of Chicago to the San Francisco World Spirits Competition to The Guardian to -er- Good Housekeeping. Both gins have been widely reviewed online, and most of those reviews find Miller’s superlative. So if you are picking up a bottle of Martin Miller’s, your expectations are probably set very high.
Fortunately, I can attest that Miller’s easily lives up to these expectations. I have tasted both varieties, and chosen to focus on the Westbourne Strength gin.
Miller’s remains one of the most well-balanced gins I have ever tasted. The marriage between juniper and citrus is absolutely exceptional, making this gin bright and crisp.
What is truly impressive about the Westbourne Strength gin specifically is that despite the higher proof, this balance has remained perfectly intact. You might expect that as the gin increased in proof, it paid a price in smoothness. Not so. In fact, the higher proof lends Miller’s the braun and mouthfeel needed to stand up in cocktails like a Gimlet, a Gin & Tonic, or a Corpse Reviver.
This may well be due to the peculiar, exacting process developed when this gin was conceived. At least two things are done a little differently in the creation of this gin that make it unique. First, the juniper, coriander and other “earthy” botanicals are distilled separately from the citrus. Orange, lemon and lime peels are not added until the second distillation. Second, Miller’s touts the quality of Icelandic water. This water is such a key ingredient that after the spirit is distilled, it travels nearly 1,500 miles to Borganes, Iceland to be blended with fresh water.
Complexity was not necessarily the goal in creating this gin. A small amount of cucumber-flavored distillate is added during the distillation process to give these gins a smooth, long finish (and may add to their citrus profile). But the list of botanicals was kept relatively low. It’s precisely this restraint that makes Miller’s such a high-quality gin.
Miller’s Westbourne Strength gin is a perfect choice for a martini, especially if you prefer (as I do) an arid martini with a lemon twist in lieu of an olive. This is definitely the way to experience the delicate counterpoint of juniper and citrus.
Miller’s is a traditional gin in every way (in fact the neck of the bottle is stamped with “London Dry”) which will both please traditionalists and connoisseurs.
Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength Gin
The Reformed Spirits Co.
45.2% Alc. by volume