There's a lot of what I'd call "cute" gins at the moment: those that attempt to razzle-dazzle with some hithertofore unknown combination of botanicals, like pairing lavender with English heather and huckleberry.
When they work, they're exceptional and produce a singular gin. But when they don't, they're underwhelming. Often, the combination of sticker shock and a hodgepodge of tastes that never really gel can leave a person hurting for a hard-charging, no gimmicks kind of gin. In moments like these, know that when novelty lays you low, Boodles will be there to pick you up.
The excellent bottle design is a lot like Boodles itself: it seems spartan at first, but over time one appreciates that it has panache, understated though it may be. Let it be known that Boodles is a superb Martini gin: made the way I like (which is to say, in a 2:1 ratio with a good vermouth like Dolin or Vya with a few generous dashes of Angostura), it is chewy and savory, and produces a drink that eclipses its component parts. Spices like caraway seed and coriander really become dominant elements here.
If tasted on its own, Boodles acquits itself again. Aside from being full-bodied and rich, there's a very strange thing that happens: despite having no citrus in its botanical list, I'll be damned if the clearest taste that develops isn't lemon when sipped at full strength. And not a lot of BS besides that: just juniper and lemon, mainly. Apparently I'm not the only one who had that impression. It's not something I taste in a Boodles martini, but to me the lemon was unmistakable when the spirit was consumed neat.
Now, years ago, I might have thought my palate was broken. However, anyone who's ever tasted the strange bartending alchemy of a chocolate cake shot will be the first to tell you that a variety of flavors in combination with one another can sometimes produce something completely unexpected. Spoiler: ain't no chocolate (nor cake) used in the making of a chocolate cake shot.
There's really only one significant fault of Boodles. Granted, if you lived in a cave for most of your life and had little contact with the modern world, you might not be struck by a familiar memory I found was immediately triggered by the combination of lemon, pine, and ethanol. You might simply think, "Yep! This certainly smells like a lemon-centric gin ought to!"
But for those of us men who have done some small amount of living, you may be reminded—as I most certainly was—of your garden variety urinal cake. There's definitely an industrial cleaner kind of vibe to the aroma, and for me it recalled a very particular time and place in which I smelled it last: a gas station bathroom.
Now, I've heard some people tell me that all gin smells like Pine-Sol to them, and as someone who has maybe seven or eight different gins on the shelf right now, that description always struck me as hyperbole. After nosing Boodles, let's just say I get what they're throwing down.
Smelling the gin isn't that important to me, however, and not every spirit needs to have a complex and heady bouquet for me to enjoy it. Boodles is one of my go-to gins for a spectacular martini, can be had on its own or with tonic, and has a killer price point of about $20. Usually when I just need "a gin," this is what goes in the cart. And hey, looking great on the shelf is another added bonus.