In my early twenties, my drink of choice was a gin and tonic. I loved gin and tonics because they were so refreshing.
Poured over a lot of ice, a cool gin and tonic went down smooth with just the right amount of fizz and caused me little trouble the following morning, what with gin being a white spirit (as they say: the darker the spirit, the worse the hangover).
Whenever I would order a gin and tonic in Nairobi, though, I would often get asked a question that I was rarely clear on how to answer.
The question was “What gin would you like, Gilbey’s Gin or Gordon’s Gin?”.
Frankly, I thought all gins were essentially the same, and since Gilbey’s Gin was usually less expensive, that is what I would choose…until one fateful afternoon in Arusha.
READ ALSO: Waragi vs. Konyagi: 2 Great East African Spirits Go Head-To-Head
Before I get to Arusha, though, first some background information.
What is Gilbey’s Gin?
Gilbeys’s Gin is a classic juniper-led London Dry Gin from Gilbey’s.
The brand was founded in London in 1857 by brothers Walter and Albert Gilbey in the basement of a retail shop on Oxford Street.
Aroma: Light, floral juniper base with hints of sweet orange
Taste: Clean, light and dry
Finish: Intense but smooth; ideal for the classic martini
What is Gordon’s Gin?
Gordon’s Gin is one of the top ten selling spirits in the world, and has been made to the same recipe since the late 18 th century.
Nose: Fresh, with juniper and citrus
Palate: Dry and fresh, with juniper and citrus
Finish: Short and light, with juniper and citrus
Now back to Arusha…
On a beautiful sunny Sunday, several years ago, I found myself traveling from Moshi to Nairobi, via Arusha, where I had a one-hour layover before changing shuttles.
This was not a problem for me because this layover was at Arusha‘s Impala Hotel, where I absolutely love hanging out on the outdoor terrace.
I love the warm midday sun on this terrace, with the beautiful blue of the swimming pool not far away.
The people on the terrace always seem particularly jovial, possibly because the majority of them are on holiday.
Whatever the case, this joyful mood is always contagious for me.
Being at The Impala Hotel terrace instantly puts me in a happy mood.
And so, on that beautiful, sunny Sunday as I sat on the terrace waiting for my shuttle’s departure, I ordered a drink—a gin and tonic to be precise.
When my drink finally arrived, I took a sip while letting the pleasure of my surroundings soak in.
Wow! My drink tasted unusually good.
I sipped and sipped and sipped, thinking that maybe, my drink tasted so good because I was in such a happy place.
But no, after a while, I had to concede: this gin and tonic was special.
Not one to leave a mystery unexplored, I decided to find out more from the bartender.
As I got up to order another gin and tonic (you know I had to! 🙂 ), I asked my bartender what he had used to make my drink.
He seemed a bit confused by my question and told me that he had simply given me a double Gordon’s Gin as well as the tonic water which had come in a bottle, so I could mix my drink myself.
The difference, I concluded, must have come from using Gordon’s Gin instead of Gilbey’s Gin.
Testing My Hypothesis
When I finally got to Nairobi, I put my hypothesis to the test.
When next asked what gin I wanted when ordering a gin and tonic, I alternated between choosing Gilbey’s Gin and Gordon’s Gin.
Whenever I ordered Gilbey’s Gin, I got the same gin and tonic that I had become accustomed to prior to my experiment.
Whenever I ordered Gordon’s Gin, my drink tasted as superb as it did that afternoon in Arusha.
I quickly became a convert.
For me, if you ask me whether I prefer Gilbey’s Gin or Gordon’s Gin, my answer is clear: it’s definitely Gordon’s Gin.
I am not sure what makes Gordon’s Gin a tastier gin—I am not a connoisseur of gin like that—but in laywoman’s terms, there’s just something more aromatic about Gordon’s Gin.
I like to say it has a “rounder” taste perhaps by which I mean it has a more complex, symphony of flavors (as opposed to being flat and one-dimensional), but that’s just me.
After all, taste is a highly personal thing.
Now Your Turn: Do You Prefer Gilbey’s Gin or Gordon’s Gin?
If asked Gilbey’s Gin or Gordon’s Gin, what is your response, and why?
I look forward to hearing what you have to say in the comment section below.
Until the next time,
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Photo Credit: Bethany Khan; amsterdo.com