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Bummer & Lazarus Gin by Raff Distillerie

Bummer & Lazarus Gin by Raff Distillerie of San Francisco

Bummer & Lazarus Gin

Proof: 92
Color: clear
Nose: flowers, citrus, juniper
Taste: citrus, juniper, mild cinnamon
Finish: sweet & warm
Value: fantastic

Bummer & Lazarus Gin is my selection for “Spirit of Christmas Past” for a few reasons.  First up, it’s named for two dogs who roamed the streets of San Francisco in the 1860’s.  You can look up their story for yourself, but they were so loved that a brass plaque was placed in the Transamerica Redwood Park.  So, the 1860’s is definitely past.

bummer-and-lazarusAnother reason that this offering from Raff Distillerie of Treasure Island is my Spirit of Christmas Past is because the bloom is beginning to fade from the once burgeoning Gin blossom. Every distillery who makes any neutral spirit now offers a Gin; to the point now where it’s nearly cliché.  And while that may seem rude of me to state, I’m being honest.  And honestly, I have zero insults to sling at Bummer & Lazarus Gin.  I do have one more reason for naming it my Spirit of the Past, but I’ll get that later.

As you may recall, I have called Bluecoat American Gin, Leopold’s Gin, and Cutler’s all “Great American Gins.” So too does Bummer & Lazarus belong to my Highest Ranks of American Gins… it may possibly be the pick of the pack.

Let’s Not Mince Words:

Bummer & Lazarus Gin is so wonderfully balanced, so masterfully spiced, and so warm and smooth as to be nearly the perfect Gin. Bummer & Lazarus is a Gin which others should aspire to become.

Now, I do love my traditional London Dry Gins, make no mistake.  But American Gins have taken over my heart. Gin is a misunderstood and often maligned Spirit. Much like folk music, Stilton, experimental jazz, goose liver paté, and Nouveau Beaujolais, Gin is an acquired taste. Unlike most people, however, I was born into Gin.  I did not need to acquire the taste as I’d been munching on Gin-soaked olives and cocktail onions since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.  Juniper and I have a love affair that spans decades.

To me, Gin is an old friend.  So when I welcome a new Gin, it is with open arms and no expectations.  But Bummer & Lazarus is no “new” Gin to me. It’s a true old friend. One who flops into the chair next me, takes a healthy swig of whatever is offered and smiles warmly.  Again, Raff has delivered to me a Spirit from my Past.  And I am truly thankful.

Cheaper than Leopold’s, Aviation, Bluecoat, Death’s Door, and Plymouth, but pricier than Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, and Beefeater, Bummer & Lazarus may be set in a confusing position.  Is it better than cheap stuff? Can it stand up to the pricier stuff?  My answer to these is: Bummer & Lazarus is worth every cent.

The majority of American Gins rely heavily on citrus flavors to drive their overall palate appeal.  Who doesn’t like oranges?  But to the Bold go the spoils, and Raff Distillerie has definitely been bold with their choices of flavors here.  They use the Gin must-have of juniper with a measured hand. So too have they been judicious with the citrus; it’s present but not overpowering.  It’s the angelica, the orris root and the licorice that were gambles; gambles that paid off.  They all appear as floral note to the nose.  And the big bold gamble of cinnamon (likely, cassia) wasn’t as big as I’d expected.  It’s a bold choice, to be sure, but its presence is a welcome note, not a loud chord in the middle of this free-form jazz piece.

Like Hangar 1, Bummer & Lazarus is a grape-based Gin.  Unlike Hangar 1, I find it has no viscosity issues.  Good news for those wishing to avoid gluten and those wanting a nice Martini.

The finish is warm and mildly cinnamon-sweet.  I’ve had to stop myself from going back to the bottle to get a few more ounces during this write up.  From the scent to the taste to the finish, Bummer & Lazarus is beautifully executed.

My usual Gin scale of Citrus to Juniper to Floral does not apply as all three play well together here and no single one overpowers the others.

From the scent to the taste to the finish, Bummer & Lazarus is beautifully executed.

Of course, I recommend sipping it with an ice cube.  But if you must mix it, it’ll excel in:

Please, Raff Distillerie, if you ever decide to stop making Bummer & Lazarus: warn me so I can stock up.

Final Rating: 97 out of 100