A. van Wees distillery de Ooievaar is best known for its Genevers, which is the last traditional Genever distillery in Amsterdam (well, so they say). In operation since the late 18th century, the distillery now has 18 different takes on the traditional Dutch spirits, and more than a few gins as well. Three Corner Dry Gin is something of a curiosity owing to its rather lean botanical bill. Simply lemon and juniper, its an apt exploration for students of gin looking to focus on learning the ways different botanicals taste in isolation, but more than that, despite its simplicity it’s a rather versatile gin with a rather distinctive flavor to boot.
All Gins containing: Lemon
When I first picked this up last year, I naively, despite the name, didn’t realize this was the house brand at a Astor Place Wine and Spirits in New York City. Those of you who follow me on social media know that it’s one of my favorite liquor stores in the city and that I do often go there and I’ve extolled their virtues before. Little is shared about the details behind the gin. It’s 100% Grain neutral spirits [says the label], it’s distilled in England [says the label] in a copper still [says the website].
Designed to be of good quality at an affordable price, the appearance is simple enough, but how does it taste?
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.
The Craft Gin Club tells the story best, in their March post to their members about this special edition of Shortcross Gin*. For those of you who aren’t going to click a link no matter how brief the article [four paragraphs!], the TL;DR is, “they boosted the Clover in their signature formula,” which by the way was unusual and exotic to start, with apple and elderberry alongside juniper, coriander, cassia, orange, and lemon.
Juniper and coriander, heady and rich on the nose. Furthermore, citrus zest, granny smith apple. and an interesting note that’s green, herbal and slightly floral. This is where the clover seems to come through. Though the Gin Club post seems to allude to the greens being present in here, I’m getting hints of clover blossom and not much green.
Pinckney Bend Gin is designed around the concept that if each botanical is distilled and crafted individually, a distiller can bring out the best in it. Basket and vapor infusion? Maceration and high heat distillation? It’s all about what best expresses the ingredient they’re working with. This gin starts as their American Dry Gin before being rested inside used, white oak barrels.
The gin is a gorgeous goldenrod hue, shimmering with a bright, almost translucent golden color. Inside the bottle, it’s certainly one of the most attractive barrel aged gins I’ve scene.
The nose shimmers as well, with spice, coriander, hints of vanilla, orange rind, and white peppercorn cracked over creme anglaise sauce.
Lee Spirits Co. was founded in 2013, and their flagship gin is distilled on a hand-assembled stainless steel still; the botanicals are macerated for ten hours before being distilled. The botanical blend was perfected over 31 test runs, and while it doesn’t pull any surprised using seven of the eight most popular botanicals (Juniper, Coriander, Cardamom, Orange, Lemon, Angelica, and Orris Root), the range within every botanical can be immense. So never assume that the same botanical in the hands of a new distiller might taste like something you’ve had by ingredients alone.
The nose is quite lovely. Punchy citrus and orange, juniper with some piney notes forward, and a gentle green cardamom pod, freshly broken open, pushing forth a gentle Chai tea and vanilla cake note underneath it.
The Vergnano family drew from deep within the annals of distillation history for the inspiration for their Malfy Gin. About one thousand years ago (yes, really) monks in Italy were experimenting with primitive distilling techniques and the bounty of the Italian countryside. It’s extremely likely that at some point, owing to the fact that juniper grows widely throughout Italy, that monks experimented with juniper and therefore, drank one of the world’s first distilled juniper berry drinks. But I digress.
The Vergnano family’s gin is naturally distilled in a modern fashion, but similarly builds on the bounty of the Italian land: the base is Italian wheat, the juniper is from Tuscany, and the lemons are a blend of Sicilian and boutique Amalfi Coast lemons.
The Prairie Brand is entirely organic, from start to finish, with every step of the process. The base spirit is distilled from dent corn, which is better known as the corn which is turned into chips, syrups, corn meals, in large part due to its high starch content. The grain is grown by a cooperative of farmers from across the state of Minnesota and makes its way into Prairie Handcrafted Gin via a partnership with the Phillips Distilling Company, who redistills the spirit with a classic gin botanical bill to create their signature gin
The nose isn’t too loud, with subtle hints of coriander and juniper, peppercorn and pine needles. Quite classic, but also quite restrained. Very nice, and classically inviting.
Before there was Bombay Sapphire East (and actually around the same time as Tanqueray Malacca), another big name in gin was experimenting with Asian botanicals to expand the category. It adds lemongrass and ginger to the usual Gordon’s formula.
Launched in 2004, Gordon’s Distillers Cut would have been on the vanguard of the contemporary gin revolution; however, tastes hadn’t quite caught up. It was discontinued unceremoniously due to poor sales in 2009, and now bottles can be found on the collector’s market for upwards of a $100.
Some classic Gordon’s character on the nose: angelica, green juniper, and spiced ginger loaf, with perhaps a lemongrass icing. Interesting with a bit of Gordon’s and a bit of unexpected.
From a distillery that’s been in operation since the 1980’s, formally known for their Eau De Vie, the team of Jörg Rupf, Lance Winters and Dave Smith have helped propel the same distillery the frontline of the gin world, making a line of gins that is as well-respected as it is imaginative: the Dry Rye which wears the Rye base on its sleeve, the legendary Faultline Gin, and their “it tastes like Redwood trees, but in a good way” Terroir Gin.