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Friday, August 22, 2008

The College Try of Gin

Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2008
By Jack Bettridge

The class was entrepreneurship. The assignment was to create a marketing plan for a theoretical product for college credits. The idea was a gin "for the new gin-eration." Cornell University students, David Hughes and Scott Krahn, not only dreamt up the product, but after two years of research and development actually put it on the market as DH Krahn gin.

The spirit was born of the idea that gin had been saddled with an image of being a drink for a bygone generation, and if that stereotype could be overturned, young people would be more comfortable ordering it. The partners attacked the challenge not only through youthful marketing, but by conceiving gin anew. They did this by dialing back the scope and intensity of flavors, edging toward the profile of vodka, which is the world's most popular spirit.

It's a canny notion, if you consider that gin is essentially the first flavored vodka, beginning life as a neutral grain spirit and then being infused with botanicals. The lightening of the flavor profile makes the beverage more accessible to the first-time gin drinker. We found it refreshing on its own and in a dry Martini. However, the gin is not as amiable a match with tonic or in a wetter Martini as the mixers tend to overpower the spirit.

DH Krahn has fewer of the botanicals that typically flavor gin, concentrating on Italian juniper (the signature flavor for which gin is named), Moroccan coriander seed, Thai ginger and orange, lemon and grapefruit peel. (Classic gins may include such botanicals as anise, angelica root, orris seed, cassia bark and almond.) The result is a gin that is less complex than such well-known brands as Bombay, Plymouth and Tanqueray, with an emphasis on citrus.

DH Krahn is distilled in one run in a copper alembic still built by Jean-Louis Stupfler, a Bordeaux-based maker of alembics frequently used in distilling Cognac and Armagnac. Like a pot still, the alembic can only be run one batch at a time, which limits the quantities that can be produced. Many gins are distilled in continuously running column stills, which need not be shut down.


Nose: Lemon, clean, bright almost soapy fresh

Palate: Dialed juniper, citrus, rock candy notes, but not cloyingly sweet.

Finish: Sharp and tangy.