If there’s one word you aren’t likely to associate with Luxardo, it would be “dry.” And if there are two words, the second might be “gin.” After all, the Italian maker is best known for producing maraschino liqueur and cocktail cherries.
So it may seem strange that a Luxardo London Dry Gin is now on American shores (courtesy of U.S. importer Hotaling & Co), but the family-owned Italian firm has some history with the style. According to press materials, Luxardo was producing a London Dry-style gin back in 1833, and the current iteration is based on a family recipe from the turn of the 20th century.
Nine botanicals flavor Luxardo London Dry Gin, including juniper, coriander, iris, angelica, licorice, cinchona, cinnamon, cardamom and bitter orange. These ingredients are infused for 24 hours in a copper pot still prior to distillation; afterward, the spirit is refined for 19 days before being bottled at 43% ABV.
Its nose is predictably dominated by juniper, although the hard edges are softened by a sort of chalky texture. On the palate it proves warm, but not hot, and possessed of an interesting, powdery quality that makes it unexpectedly soft without being silky.
Flavor wise, it’s juniper heavy, but those expected notes are coupled to a just-as-present hit of bitter lemon peel. The twin measures of spice and citrus surge at the center before more flavors are introduced at the back, chiefly a floral swing of chamomile and lemon balm that’s followed by the familiar, comforting burn of cinnamon. We end on dry, tickling cinnamon with hints of ginger and cardamom, which gives the spiced conclusion something of a holiday-feel.
In a Gin & Tonic, it’s a knock-out. It provides that heavy spice lick needed to counteract the tonic courtesy of the cardamom and juniper, and ends on an interesting spice-forward aftertaste backed by cinnamon and ginger. I also found success using it in Negronis and Martinis, where it lived up to its “London Dry” labeling while providing an experience uniquely its own.
— 43% ABV