There's not a tremendous amount written about the Gabriel Boudier Saffron Gin, but what exists is interesting. Some people say there's too much saffron here. Some say it's exactly on point. Some say there's not enough saffron.
In any case, the GB saffron gin is a good reminder of the difference in palates from one person to the next. For those that are perfectly happy with the amount of saffron used here, I'm sure the distiller himself would say that just enough saffron was added such that it wouldn't overpower everything else in the bottle. I can see where this camp is coming from: the GB is still very much a gin. However, beyond the presence of the saffron itself, my take was that it seems to be gunning for a bit of a "new world" gin profile with the juniper dialed back and the citrus dialed up.
I'm willing to bet those who are in the "too much" camp are old guard London Dry gin drinkers—people who, like S&M addicts, know exactly what they want to be slapped with and how hard they can take it. In this case, juniper is king, and the more that particular botanical is dialed back, the less they're going to be appreciative of the end result. So I'd wager. The GB Saffron Gin is not what these guys are looking for.
I think I fall firmly into the "not enough" saffron camp. I bought the gin expecting bold notes of esoteric spices and the saffron to do quite a bit of heavy lifting. I wanted some real new "new world" stuff, and on that level I was disappointed. I'm sure someone would make the case that the distiller is trying to save me from myself: perhaps my palate isn't good enough to know that saffron shouldn't take center stage as a botanical.
But let's say that I was looking at this product cynically.
If I were to do such a thing, I'd point to the fact that saffron is, on the low end, about $50 an ounce. Probably using saffron in any significant quality beyond being gimmicky would inflate the price of this bottle quite a bit. But, in order to make customers think that there's more saffron in the bottle than there actually is, you could dye the fucking thing bright orange and let their imagination fill in any narrative blanks.
Perhaps I'm tipping my hand. I'm not going to say that I'm in the upper echelons of having an award-winning sense of smell or taste, but I'd like to think I've gotten decent at it. With the GB, my personal opinion is that a lot of us are tasting with our eyes first. When the gin that comes out of the bottle has the hue of orange Fanta, our brain is conditioned to think, "Hey! It looks different, so it must taste different!"
After the time I spent with a whole bottle, I'll certainly conclude that the taste of this gin isn't shattering the mold. It's citrus forward, but to me there's a lot more coriander and some fennel here that is left standing center stage when the juniper makes its exit. In that sense, it's about on par with Aviation, but takes a backseat to the still-cheaper Fords and Martin Miller's.
In the end, I can't help but feel like I've paid a $5 to $10 surcharge on orange dye. For me, the color of the spirit is writing checks the gin itself can't cash.