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*.
All Gins containing: Lemon Peel
Rare that we begin a brand description with a botanical description, but in the case of Piger Henricus its appropriate. The brand is inextricably entwined with its signature: the parsnip. Once used as a sweetener in Europe before the arrival of sugar. the Parsnip is a vegetable, often cooked, similar to a white carrot with a totally unique and different flavor. The gin is the child of a partnership of Patrice Fortier from La Société des plantes and the Subversives Distillers of Quebec.
The name actually means “Slow Harry” in Latin. It’s a reference to the furnaces used by alchemists/distillers in the middle ages.
Definitive vegetal character on the nose, with dill, carrot, and citrus rind all present. Once you hear the word Parsnip (the power of suggestion), you’ll pick it out in the dill/carrot aromas. Pine branches and a delicate juniper intimation area bit lower. This is some unique stuff.
The palate begins with citrus and juniper up front, with traditional notes of coriander and cardamom setting the stage before carrot and parsnip ushers in the finish. Medium long finish.
First we tried it in a Gin and Tonic, and the vegetal aromas and textures come through, albeit quietly, they’re the only notes that come through.
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.
Scotland seems to be no longer content to be simply known to gin geeks as the “place where some of the biggest gins in the world are distilled.” NB Gin stands out among its Scottish gin peers for not trying too hard to be Scottish. You might be thinking of some of those other guys that have tried using a Scottish base spirit as a gimmick, or trying to use a whole slew of exotic Scottish countryside herbs. But not NB Gin. It takes a more traditional road towards being a good gin.
In our own <100 words
The Muirs, husband and wife, have teamed up to create this latest Scottish gin. Their attention to detail is evident in their choice of facilities. A traditional copper pot still? Manual controls? Although the latter is shared with most small gins, the mission statement is clear: NB Gin is small batch and has been given close attention at every step. Like a master craftsman, they call out no stops in their botanical choice. Working with eight of the most common ingredients in gin (see below), the end result is more a result of close attention to the nuance of the ingredients than any exotic note the botanicals might bring.
For our next review, we travel back to that distilling hotbed that it is Washington State. This mini I picked up when I was in Seattle for the American Distilling Institute gathering this past spring. I’d heard good things about Sun Liquor Distillery and wanted to try for myself.
In our own < 100 Words
If you haven’t heard of Sound Spirits’ offerings, you might have seen them– that is if you’ve ever flown Alaska airlines. Rare is the local product which rises (pun intended) to the level as to be served on a major airline. That aside, Sun Liquor was first a lounge (2006), then a restaurant, bar and distillery (2011), and they’ve been selling their gin over the counter ever since. Hedgetrimmer is meant to be the more classic of their offerings (let’s play word association: Juniper, Pine, Green, Hedge?) and is distilled with neutral grain and nine botanicals, including one oddball: Washington State Cannonball Watermelon Rind.
The nose has hibiscus, and green juniper in the high notes, though a more complex side emerges as the spirit has a second to aerate: lemon, ethanol and grains of paradise notes mix, but then fading to a more blank alcohol note on the finish.
Every now and then, we see a gin which does something so crazy, it absolutely blows our mind. Before we even get it into our glass.
When I hear about Herno distillery’s intention to age gin in a cask made out of juniper wood, I was absolutely boggled. Firstly, and pardon this preconception held by those of us who mostly encounter these small little garden variety junipers, with scraggly winding branches that peel and flake. All in all, I didn’t think you could do anything with the bark whatsoever.
The peoples of Europe have long used juniper; however, it wasn’t quite valued as a wood product. Juniper wood has issues with the way it knots, the type of grain, and its has only come back into vogue as a source of lumber due to technology which can mitigate some of these defects. Let me quote from sawmill which specializes in juniper some of the reasons why juniper isn’t usually used for casks, and can be cost-prohibitive to do so:
“The answer is to accept juniper for what it is. It is beautiful, local and challenging. It is not easy, normal or boring.
Darnley’s view gin (alike many other gins on the market) desires to create a sense of place on your palette. We’ve covered many gins that accomplish this to varying degrees. Caorunn worked to create that vision by choosing a whole slew of native botanicals; Seneca Drums, whose distillery is located in wine country created that vision by stacking traditional gin botanicals on top of a grape spirit base, and yet others (and this is where Darnley’s view come in) take a more abstract approach to that sense of place. Though one of the non-traditional botanicals (Elderflower) does grow wild on the Scottish countryside, the view isn’t told only through the names of the ingredients. The makers of Darnley’s view are telling a more complete story through the experience of their drink. First, a brief foray into history, then on to the drinking.
The Tasting Darnley’s view boasts a modest six botanicals: Juniper, Lemon Peel, Elderflower, Coriander, Angelica Root, and Orris Root.