The Distiller’s grandfathers’s eponymous gin— Gustaf— is grain-to-glass distilled from Winter Rye— hand done at that, and then distilled with a decidedly modern botanical blend, including meadowsweet, oft purported to be the botanical which gave early Hendrick’s a unique touch, sadly since replaced, and botanical du-jour thyme— for that herbally citrusy kick and cucumber— well where isn’t cucumber these days?— all bottled up nice and tidy at the strength the British Royal Navy would have liked— but this one hails from the decidedly inland Rye plains of Minnesota— in a beautiful austere bottle no less.
All Gins containing: Fennel
As if a pioneer organism, the East London Liquor Company has brought distilling back to London’s East End for the first time in over a hundred years. The re-purposed glue factory that they call home is where they distill their rum, vodka and line of gins, which number three at the moment. They have their entry level gin and two premium gins. One features tea and the other (the subject of this review) takes a more herbal forward approach featuring bay, sage, fennel and the unusual winter savory. Closely related to the summer savory, it played yin to summer’s yang.
Labeling is a problem. Let me explain. as is the case of Pierdas Almas +9 Botanicals. In the United States, one of the relics of the prohibition era laws written mostly for the ease of regulation than for the benefit of the customer is that “Officially,” a spirit may only be classified as one thing. So it doesn’t quite matter whether that spirit is technically both a Mezcal* and a Gin**. It can only be officially classified, and subsequently labeled as one thing.
Featuring 30 (!) botanicals, Ferdinand Saar Gin is already something of a beast. It combines common botanicals (angelica, coriander, ginger), less common, but still regularly seen ones (lavender, rose) and then there’s those which are really unusual (sloe, rarely seen as a botanical, lemon thyme) – but wait! It’s then cut with Riesling wine (Germany, kind of known for that). And in the case of the Quince gin, it’s a Sloe gin homage, using the local quince grown right at the distillery, with a touch of sweetening. It’s a lovely golden hue.
On the nose, there’s ginger, wet, herbal notes, a touch of fruit, slight bits of rose and bobs of vanilla.
Another day of Ginvent, another Impression of a new gin.
I sometimes wonder if we’re finally reaching that breaking point where we won’t be encountering more “the first ______[type of spirit]_______ distillery in ______[fairly well known city or place]________ in ___[number greater than 100]___ years. But not so!
Helsinki Distilling Company is the first distillery in Helsinki since the century before the last one. The origin of the botanicals are proudly shared: the Lingonberries are local and Finnish; the Juniper comes from the Balkans; the Seville Oranges… come from Seville. In addition, there’s lemon, fennel, coriander, angelica and rose. As is becoming more common, it maintains the intensity of its botanicals by not chill filtering it. So gin aesthetic purists, you might find catch yourself crying in your cloudy Martini [further clouding it, oh cruel irony!] A little Ouzo effect never bothered me.
Proclaimed on the bottle as the “best of both worlds, east and west,” Bobby’s Gin is based on a recipe of Jacobus, better known as Bobby, Alfons. Eight botanicals are each distilled on their own before being blended together to create his namesake gin.
But Jacobus’s story is an interesting one. An immigrant, he was born in Indonesia. Raised on the vibrant spices which once drove the Dutch to the Indies during the 17th and 18th century spice trade, he fell in love with Genever and began playing around with infusions, pairing the spices of his youth with Dutch spirits, just as the Dutch did long ago.
Stovell’s is an award winning restaurant in Chobham, England. and their Wildcrafted Eponymous gin is a partnership of bar manager Geyan Surendran and chefs Kristy and Fernando Stovell.
The concept is simple: local, foraged botanicals. A truly local gin. Nothing is in the gin which cannot and does not grow locally. The only exception to their provenance rule is the juniper, which they source from Croatia due to their concern for the local juniper populations, which are still threatened in the UK.
Among the botanicals, couple standout: both angelica root and seed (toasted) are used, as are red efflorescent clover blossoms.
I’d say more distillers are willing to be highly transparent about their botanical bill than their grain bill. The team at One Eight Distilling doesn’t publicly disclose much of their botanicals, but they will be even more specific than you might expect about their grains. This is interesting, as one of the major contentions of the Craft Spirits movement is that “grain to glass” is the only thing which should qualify as craft*.
I’ve lived the quintessential East Coast dream on at least a couple of occasions. To point a car West and to to head towards the other coast, stopping at all of the incredible go-between and pass-throughs along America’s state highways, and religiously avoiding the interstate when at all possible. For me, Galena, Illinois holds a unique place for me. Along US 20, it’s the gateway in my mind, that breaking point between the dense urbanity and never-too-far-from civilization feel of the East/Great Lakes and the wide-open expanses of the middle. It’s the beginning of the “everything else.” So each time I’ve driven west, I’ve stopped in Galena’s historic downtown, walked along the Galena river, and Paused.
Galena is home to Blaum Brothers Distilling Company. Located right along the aforementioned US 20, two brothers have been designing spirits from the ground up since 2013. The grains are sourced locally, distilled on their handmade copper still. They have an as-yet-released Rye and Bourbon in the works, but as for now they have vodka, moonshine, and gin out on the market. The gin is based on a small number of botanicals, each distilled individually with their wheat/rye base spirit, before being blended to create the final product.
In <100 Words
On July 17th, 1947 the following events occurred:
A passenger ship sank off the coast of Mumbai India.
6’11” Serbian Center Žarko Knežević was born.
The Philadelphia Athletics Pummeled the St. Louis Browns 16-2 led by 5 runs from Barney McCoskey.
The Recipe for Pickering’s Gin was written
….and it was held secret for 66 years until Pickering’s Gin was launched in 2013. Juniper + 8 other botanicals, including coriander, cardamom, angelica, fennel, anise, lemon, lime and cloves.
On December 31st, 2014 I tasted Pickering’s Gin and the following things occurred:
The nose has a slight emphasis on coriander.
also Herbaceous Juniper, and a slight touch of citrus on the edges.
The palate begins with fresh pine forest and lemon zest.
Juniper is really the most striking thing about the palate.
There’s a lot of depth and complexity in the background notes
These notes include hints of violet, lemon, black peppercorn and fennel.
The finish is dry, with still plenty of juniper.
The residual notes of the palate include fennel seed and clover oil.
…and I thought it was quite an exquisite classic style gin. Really good on its own, but also with great promise for mixing.