There’s probably a good chance you’re reading this review because this is the gin made and promoted by Paul Feig. In all fairness, it’s the reason we decided to review it to begin with — Feig seems like a guy who knows cocktails and comedy. But before we get into the celebrity involvement, let’s take a second to talk about the history of the distillery that actually makes this stuff.
Founded in 1845 by a Mr. Bissinger, the Monroe Brewing Company in Monroe, Wisconsin (self proclaimed cheese capital of the world) has changed hands and names a lot over the years. The most recent owners are Ravinder and Manjit Minhas, who renamed the facility the Minhas Brewery and opened an additional distillery to capitalize on the current craft spirits craze.
According to interviews, this is where Paul Feig (Hollywood filmmaker best known for directing Bridesmaids) comes into the picture. The always impeccably dressed Feig has a love for gin cocktails, and had wanted to make his own gin for ages. After being put in touch with the Minhas family, they decided to collaborate on a gin that would meet Feig’s exacting specifications and crafted about eight different varieties, from which Paul tasted and selected the best one.
The gin recipe that Paul Feig selected became Artingstall’s, which the Minhas distillery produces and bottles.
- Learn More: What Is Gin?
Unfortunately, all my research turned up nothing on the product process for this spirit.
But since this is a gin, we can assume that this starts life as a neutral spirit (usually made from grain) that is imported into the facility. That raw alcohol is diluted with water and has some herbal and botanical elements added for flavoring — in this case, a reported eleven elements… none of which are actually disclosed. The mixture is then re-distilled to create the clear finished gin.
Interesting to note is that the term “London Dry Gin” doesn’t mean a gin was made in London. It’s a style of gin that is particularly juniper forward (so we can probably assume at least some juniper berries in the eleven botanical elements) and it can be made anywhere. There aren’t any modifiers that are common on that term, so the “Brilliant London Dry Gin” is probably more marketing than classification.
The package is impeccable. The style here is decidedly a “roaring twenties” / art deco take on the spirits bottle, with a lot of detail put into the embossed design on the glass bottle’s surface as well as the label.
The bottle is roughly square shaped, with a sharp taper at the shoulder to a short neck. The bottle is capped off with a glass and plastic stopper, with a particularly large glass ball at the end that looks like a diamond. It looks a bit like an antique perfume bottle, with all the little edges and ridges catching the light and making for a great looking display.
As for the label, it is a black sticker with a bunch of silver and gold metallic ink filigree (a pattern that would not be out of place on the wallpaper of a 1920’s bar). The brand name and the legally required markings are pretty much the only text on the label, and they are placed on there with a lot of artistry and style.
One thing that irks me, though: the establishing date. There is a semi-prominent “est. 1845” at the top of the bottle… but this gin hit the market at the end of 2021. Claiming that it has this long and storied heritage (which it seems to be borrowing from the original brewery’s establishment date) seems misleading at best and dishonest at worst. I would have just left that off the bottle personally rather than try to trick people into thinking they are buying into a well-established historical brand.
On the aroma, there’s a bright flash of juniper up front — as one would expect from a good London Dry gin — mixed in with some lemon citrus and coriander spice. To their credit, the aroma actually a bit more well saturated than most of the other London style gins on the market.
Taking a sip, the flavor profile is a bit different than what I expected. First out of the gate, there are some soap-y elements that taste very much like cilantro or coriander, which is followed by some lemon peel citrus, a bit of orange citrus, and then the juniper finally kicks in. Sipping this neat, the juniper is more of a member of the chorus than the star of the show, which is a nice change of pace. From there, a touch of licorice adds its own distinctiveness to the party and the spirit finishes on a nice crisp and clean lemon-y note.
Typically, I find that when gins have a more pronounced licorice component, adding ice tends to lighten the licorice’s stranglehold on the juniper and really let it sing. And that’s exactly what is happening here: the earthy licorice has been toned down, and as a result the juniper is finally taking center stage.
That pine-tree-tinted juniper component is dominant, but there’s still enough coriander and lemon citrus to add some character and round out the flavor profile. It makes for a pretty nice combination — a good, crisp drink that seems like it would be good in a couple cocktails.
The whole point of a Negroni is that the flavors are brash and bitter and hard to tame. But in this case, I think Artingstall’s actually does a pretty good job of pulling everything in line.
What really helps, I think, is the licorice root component. It seems to add a bit of an earthiness that counteracts the bitterness of the Campari and really helps to bring balance to the glass. From there, you actually do get a hint of citrus and just a glimmer of juniper, which is honestly more than I usually get from most gins when mixed in a Negroni.
Fizz (Gin & Tonic)
I liked this on the rocks, and I think the addition of a little bit of carbonation from the tonic water really elevates the experience here. The juniper, lemon citrus, and coriander all come through and are recognizable components, and that little bit of a lift provided by the tonic makes it all the more refreshing.
If I can suggest, I think a little bit of lemon peel would be useful here. I don’t think you need to go wild on the additions, just a touch of garnish should take this G&T from good to great.
For both a distiller and a Hollywood director who haven’t previously produced a gin (as far as I can tell), this is a remarkable entry into the field. The flavors here are great, it works nicely in a cocktail, and I really like the packaging that it comes in.
Like Feig himself, this gin knows how to make a cocktail and it’s dressed for the occasion. For those looking for a gin to gift to someone, this might be the perfect selection (and will definitely be on my list for next Christmas).
The only reason I’m not giving this a full five stars is because I feel like it’s still being a little misleading and dishonest in the labeling. The 1845 establishment date particularly irks me, as neither the distillery nor the brand can really trace its roots that far. It’s the brewery that can make that claim to fame — but the distillery is fresh and young. (Which isn’t a bad thing at all, as long as you disclose it.)
|Artingstall's Brilliant London Dry Gin|
Produced By: Artingstall'sProduction Location: Wisconsin, United States
Classification: London Dry Gin
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 42% ABV
Price: $45 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 4/5
A bright and cheerful juniper-forward gin with a good bit of balance that works great on its own or in a cocktail.
Question, where did the name of the gin come from? I see this is not their name. Curious since my last name is Arstingstall – could it be a long lost relative? It is commonly misspelled.