I Paid: $49.99 for a 750-milliliter bottle (prices may vary by region)
The initial email pitching the newly launched Nolet's Silver Dry Gin brand got my attention. The description of this $50-a-bottle luxury tipple went like this: "Nolet's Silver is a modern take on gin with a refreshing floral and fruit-forward flavor featuring notes of peach, Turkish rose, and raspberry."
Interesting, particularly coming from the creators of Ketel One vodka. And if you're like me, laboring under the idea that gin necessitates juniper, it's a bit perplexing. It took three back-and-forths with Nolet's pleasant and professional PR guy before I finally got an answer that sort of made sense: The thing that makes Nolet's a gin (as opposed to, say, an infused vodka) is a dry finish, a character trait held in common with a traditional London dry gin. Well, OK, sure.
So I bought a bottle. After it arrived, I did what any casual, recreational gin drinker would do: I put Nolet's next to my other three bottles of gin and tried all four both straight and in gin and tonics.
Nolet's went up against New Amsterdam (my favorite affordable go-to bottle), Death's Door (a Wisconsin-made specialty gin), and Hendrick's (a much-beloved boutique gin). New Amsterdam was clean and light on its feet, with a pronounced but not aggressive juniper finish. Death's Door swung that piney branch with muscle and passion, turning the volume up on gin's classic flavors. Hendrick's brought its signature herbs-and-cucumber bouquet to the table, oozing sophistication and refreshment.
And that $50 bottle of Nolet's? It started out with a pleasant fruity, floral herbyness and it ended with a moist echo of decent cherry schnapps. It was off-putting when tasted straight, and palatable but a bit juvenile when mixed with tonic.
Maybe there's a dry finish here that a spirits expert would detect, but I couldn't find it. And maybe there's a reason that this is a gin (the peach? the raspberry?) as opposed to a berry vodka, but if there is, it's not really apparent.
Nolet's Silver Dry Gin, then, is a sheep in wolf's clothing, an agreeable, mixable berry party spirit wearing a tuxedo. There's no doubt that a mixologist could do pleasant things with it, but the word gin just doesn't make sense here. And neither, it should be said, does the price tag.