There's something deeply satisfying about any spirit that tastes more expensive than it actually is. Starting with the Art Deco bottle, there's a lot that's classy about Aviation.
In truth, Aviation had been on my list of things to try for a while. The story is that the distillers created Aviation with the hopes of it being emblematic of a "New American" style of gin. While a huge number of London Dry gins are known for just punching you straight in the kisser with as much juniper as possible (and usually at a fairly robust ABV), Aviation is a much more genteel affair.
Having gone through half a bottle in the span of a few weeks, I would say they've succeeded in their mission statement. The Aviation is very soft, balanced, and refined. If you've never really considered the idea of drinking a gin neat, the Aviation is a great place to start. I think the best way I can describe it is soft. It's soft on the nose, soft in the palate, and soft in the finish. Juniper is present among the various flavors, but it's very citrus-heavy with lemon and orange and has a really wonderful note of lavender that massages the whole experience.
It's also bottled at 42%, which is a pretty good compromise of flavor without nearly the degree of spirit burn you would expect in a $20 gin. There's craftsmanship through and through here, and anytime that someone succeeds in creating a spirit with an identity—especially a clear one—I'm pretty impressed. Again, I was not expecting elegance, delicacy, or sophistication in something that's only about $5 more than a bottle of Gordon's (a brutish but perfectly acceptable mixer).
Of course, everything has a trade off. I mentioned before that "soft" was a good way to describe Aviation, but on the other side, it's soft. Purists might not think see this as a good thing. As a mixer in anything besides really easygoing fruit-forward or citrus-heavy drinks, it's going to get stepped on.
Even the couple of martinis I made found the Aviation getting shoved aside by the minor amount of orange bitters and vermouth in my cocktail. When a drink has been balanced around gin so that the spirit can provide a predictable alcoholic and juniper-forward attack, you're going to find that the Aviation brings a knife to the proverbial gunfight.
In that sense, it's similar to the St. George Terroir gin in that I find it has faults as a mixer—the Terroir because it's too bold to get along with anything, but the Aviation because it's too light to stand up for itself. However, if you're fine with the Aviation being a straight-drinking affair to appreciate its light nuances and complexity, it's well worth the very modest price the distillers want for it.
Personally, I think it would be a good gin introduction for those who normally stick to Vodka. (And no, I don't mean that as a backhanded compliment.)