You know what makes for good horror? Taking something we think we know and then showing us more and more forcefully that something dark and insidious is bubbling just below the surface.
Think of a haunted school where kids' pictures still hang on the walls. The shopping mall from Day of the Dead where zombies shamble around brightly-lit sporting goods stores. A nice day at the beach spoiled only by a big-ass shark somewhere under the water. New Amsterdam reminds me of all this. It's a style I generally like, but with all the qualities that should be nice twisted around in all of the worst ways.
Let me explain: I gravitated to gins like Aviation and Martin Miller's because they represent a light, delicate, and refreshing approach to gin. These spirits would rather impress you with a bit of sophistication than break your back with juniper and a high ABV. Of course, there's a time and a place for everything, but it's nice to have lighter options depending on my gin mood.
On paper, New Amsterdam shows up at your door with a batch of roses and a smile. "I'm like those other guys!" it says. It shows you its American pedigree and promises to be gentle and citrus-forward. It has an ABV of 40% and a price of about $10. But don't let it in.
The smell should give you some indication of its dark heart. The citrus here is HUGE, with massive amounts of lemon and orange in addition to some ginger. That's nice, sure. But the massive hit of acetone isn't, which actively discourages you from trying to explore any other aroma too closely.
It's the taste where this really begins to turn from Jekyll to Hyde. There's a lot of citrus on the palate as well, but it doesn't taste like authentic lemon or lime when you really take your time with it. It's more like Lemonhead candy or lemon-lime soda in its presentation of these flavors. It also tastes extremely sweet to me, which makes the flavors ring all the more ersatz and cloying rather than light and refreshing. Thankfully, the finish is big on oranges and not as bracing as the nose would indicate, but again it hits me as candy or soda rather than fruit.
There's always the fear I have that someone will insinuate this is all just snobbery, to which I say this: get a bottle of Gordon's if you're dead-set on bargain hunting. Past that, Aviation and Martin Miller's are only $10 more for a 750 mL bottle and far more successful for gins sprinting toward the same objective. I'll happily pay a $10 premium to not frown when I'm drinking. No, I don't own a Ferrari.
At the end of the day I'll cycle back on the point that New Amsterdam is the refection that stares at Aviation in the bathroom mirror. Then, when Aviation drops its toothbrush and isn't looking, New Amsterdam sneers. Even at $10, I have no temptation to go near it again. I like the breed of light, citrusy "new American" gins, but I certainly didn't like this.