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: Grains Of Paradise
In intention, Green Hat’s year round Navy Strength gin packs a punch with not just Green Hat’s signature blend of botanicals, but some added juniper. Bottles at 114 proof, it’s designed to be your go-to cocktail gin. Like the other products from Michael Lowe and John Uselton’s New Columbia Distillers, the gin begins as Red Winter Wheat, mashed, fermented, and distilled on their traditional copper pot still, vapor infused with botanicals ranging from the traditional like lemon and juniper, to the less traditional like celery seed and grapefruit.
To understand how Bombay Sapphire got its name, you must start at a place somewhat unexpected. The girl with the curls a.k.a. Mary Pickford was one of the most prominent silent Hollywood actresses. In 1909 alone, she appeared in fifty-one films, by 1916 it was said that only Charlie Chaplin was more popular. She starred in fifty two films throughout her career, earning a vast amount of wealth playing an all manner of character.
Bourbon Barreled Big Gin. 100% Corn base spirit, with a relatively traditional botanical bill buoyed by Tasmanian Pepperberry and Cardamom, the folks at Captive Spirits Distilling rest their flagship gin in barrels formerly used by Heaven Hill Distillery for their Bourbon.
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*.
Firstly, a special thanks to a couple of good friends from North Carolina who picked me up this delightful gin. Jay and Sarah heard (and tried!) this new gin from the nearby city of Kinston, NC and picked me up a bottle. Sarah’s a gin drinker, and Jay’s a fellow Hawks fan (long time readers of the blog have probably seen more than their fair share of Instagram photos of gin set to a background of Seahawks’ football). So first and foremost, thank you both.
In <100 Words
Mother Earth Spirits runs a Leed certified brewery and distillery in Kinston, NC. The label of their spirits proudly proclaims their work as “solar-made,” owing to their use of solar energy to power their distillery. The product itself is sustainable, so you can feel good drinking. In addition to their gin, they make a whiskey and (soon) rum.
Bright cardamom on the nose, with coriander along side, and pink peppercorns coming in as well. Juniper is lower in the mix, but herbaceous and crisp, providing some grounding. Quite nice, and very welcoming on the nose. Fans of G’vine Floraison () will find a similar olfactory profile.
The story of Monkey 47 is attributed to an Indian born British Commander who was stationed in Germany after the second world war. Inspired by the Black Forest through the lens of his family’s heritage he combined British influence, Indian botanicals, and the natural flora of the German forest to create a complex gin he called Schwarzwald Dry Gin, along with the note Max the Monkey.
You see, this Commander also helped rebuild the world-famous Berlin zoo, and during the course of this he came to support Max, an egret monkey, who lived in the zoo. So it might seem natural that years after the fact in retirement, he retained an affection for the monkey he sponsored, and when he made his gin, he named it after him.
On botanicals alone, boasting an ostentatious 47, it might be the most complicated gin on the market, but to throw you one more curveball, it’s also built on a base spirit of molasses.
The nose is mentholated juniper, pineapple sage, lemon verbena, lavender, rose, hibiscus and lime. (!) This encyclopedic list merely reflects how incredibly complex and brightly aromatic this gin is.
We already talked about the history of the Gin 1495 in our previous entry on the Verbatim recreation of the gin. But now we’re going to try their modern interpretation, the one they designed to appeal to modern sensibilities, including a few more modern botanical additions.
Much quieter when compared side-by-side. Minty, menthol notes present, with ginger, nutmeg, grains of paradise and a slight, but present citrus lift with lemon and orange notes.
Bright green juniper present on the palate, with ginger and cinnamon jumping out, hints of cardamom as well, but they are much more restrained. An almost waxy juniper finish, with clove oil coming out again, fading gently with a sharp, warm ginger note.
Loud and contemporary, and clearly related to the first one. You can taste the similarities, but this is the superior gin [not the superior experiment! I’m only talking about the actual thing I’m drinking here]. There might be ⅓ the amount of ginger in here when compared to the first one, but that’s a good thing. It gives a rounder, more balanced approach. It shows you just what this gin could be.
In short, I’m not sure I would go out and buy this gin if it were on the shelf.
Cocktail Historians [yes that’s a thing, apparently] have long been seeking out the origins of the drink we call “gin.”
The criteria for something to be a proto-gin are vague, though it is generally thought to be some combination of the below:
Distilled is important because gin is a spirit, and it represents a departure from the decoctions and juniper berry flavored beers and wines that were fairly common from the medieval era forward.
Grain based was important because it sought to represent a shift from the brandies, distilled wines, Steinhagers, Schnapps, and other spirits of the time which used juniper in other ways.
And finally, recreational was important because distilled juniper berry waters were once quite common, and although prone to abuse they were designed to be drank as medicine. Yes. people used their medicine for recreation, but the step towards gin was the intentionality of distilled a spirit strictly for enjoyment, with no pretense.
The 1495 Story in < 100 Words
Buried in the Sloane Manuscripts, Phillip Duff discovered the recipe calling for a mixture of several exotic spices and the word gorsbeyn, which depending on your translation could mean “frog” or it could be a corruption of the word for “juniper.” Assuming this is a correct reading of the word on the page, there’s no mistaking based on context that this wasn’t a medicine.
Bull Run Distilling Co. has been making spirits since 2010, giving them a bit of seniority on the craft gin scene. The distillery is named for the watershed where the city of Portland, Oregon gets their drinking water, meaning that true to the gin’s name— there is a bit of Portland in this bottle. A mix of 10 botanicals, stated clearly on the bottle, Aria opts for a more traditional spin on Northwest gin, built on a base of 100% grain spirit and bottled at a pleasantly strong 45% ABV.
On the nose, pine-fresh juniper, with citrus and coriander playfully occupying supporting roles. There’s even a slight, warm hint of pepper in the low notes. The nose is classic in character, with a bright, nicely balanced freshness. I’d say it’s more Beefeater in its approach than it is Gordon’s (); however, classic and inviting all the same.
The palate is rife with fresh juniper, leaning towards the pine/green type of notes. Cardamom jumps out as a mid-palate background, lending some character but not stealing any thunder; citrusy coriander comes on late with a hint of pepper and orange zest.