This gin review is quite challenging to write, because the first question that comes to mind is: Is Aviation Gin really gin?
Aviation describes itself as a “botanical democracy”. Alas, democracy is for governments, but juniper is for gin. Aviation lacks that anchor. Some juniper can be found, but it is well-buried.
Don’t get me wrong, this concoction is quite tasty. It just doesn’t taste like gin. Distilled from rye, it carries a rich flavor and an excellent, somewhat oily mouth feel. The sweet flavor derives from the use of botanicals like sarsaparilla and orange peel, and lavender brings a flowery aroma. I agree with Randy’s assessment that “…the distillers may be trying to shatter some preconceived notions of what gin should be.” That said, enjoy it straight but don’t expect it to satisfy in traditional London Dry Gin cocktails unless you don’t really like the taste of juniper.
To make matters confusing, “Aviation” is also the name of a fabulous gin cocktail as well as the name of this gin. Check out the recipe in our Top Five Summer Gin Drinks article. With this name clash, I feel compelled to finish this gin review with a review of an Aviation gin cocktail made with Aviation Gin. The resulting cocktail is sweet and bright, but lacks substance. The bright flavor is a good fit for summertime, but my personal preference would be for a gin that stands out better against the lemon and cherry burst in an Aviation cocktail, like Tanqueray or Junipero.