Like anyone else, I was convinced I needed to try a bottle of Broker's when I saw that it came with its own little plastic hat. I opened the bottle, looked at the hat, and felt some degree of sadness when I put it right into the garbage.
I wish I had some purpose or design for a small plastic hat, but I don't. Nevertheless, that dumb hat did its job in communicating the essential British-ness of the gin. Bowler hat, coat of arms, tailored suit—it all works, obvious as it all might be. Probably there's a British guy on the other side of the world right now picking out a bourbon based on whether or not he sees spurs and/or a bucking horse on the side of the bottle.
Because of the power and call of the brand, I was set to use the word "suckered" in the first paragraph until I realized that I was grateful to stumble across the gin. While it's not one of my favorite of favorites, it's a high-quality spirit that's made well and affordably priced, and I have a very clear purpose for Broker's when it resides in the home bar.
To the point: for about $20 in most markets, you get a gin at a very generous 47% ABV with some very nice balance between citrus and floral elements. The aroma is juniper for sure, but there's also some earthiness and rosemary that comes out as well. On the palate, Broker's isn't a shotgun blast of pine needles. Instead, I think it strikes a good balance between the Juniper-heavy nature of a lot of London Dry gins and some of the better standouts in the "New American" gin style. I tasted candied lemon, salty limes, and some grapefruit on the development, and in the finish I was left with some lingering lavender and lemon cream mixed with the juniper.
Broker's also passes one of my indicators of quality: copper pot distillation. As a result, it's a lot less wild than you'd expect for a gin clocking in at 47% alcohol. It's still hot, and I'd recommend a splash of water or an ice cube if you're intending on drinking it neat, but it's definitely something that could be enjoyed on its own by a regular gin drinker. For $20, Broker's is a very, very far way away from firewater.
All that said, Broker's is one of the best mixers for about half of all the gin-based cocktails I can think of. If you're making a drink that combines gin and any kind of fresh juice, the citrus from the Brokers comes through along with a bit of herbaceousness. Additionally, the relatively high ABV will give those cocktails an extra level of grip and presence. Basically, even with some ice dilution, you won't be as perceptive of a watery, weak drink.
That said, I don't typically use Broker's in either Martinis or Gin and Tonics. There, I really want a big Juniper hit to cut through the noise (typically Boodles fits the bill). If you prefer your Martinis with a lemon twist and orange bitters, however, I bet Broker's would work pretty well.
All in all, it's a different flavor profile than either Tanqueray or Bombay Sapphire, but I think Broker's works a lot harder for your dollars.