Calamity Gin— Get it, Calamity Jane?— is produced by Southwest Spirits and Wine. A large Texas based distillery, they produce a variety of spirits [I’d suggest J.R Ewing Bourbon might be the best known brand in their portfolio] and Calamity Gin is their portfolio’s flagship gin.
The team behind it has opted for a contemporary, Texas inspired take on gin. Including a unique botanical and flower that pretty much shouts Texas— The Bluebonnet.
The Texas Bluebonnet a.k.a Lupinus texensis is a rapid-growing spring flower that shoots up nearly half a meter high with a cluster of blue flowers. If you’re in Texas in spring, it’s quite the sight. However, timing is tough because it varies based on spring weather conditions.
Bluebonnet smell is variably described. One writer wrote, ” this field of bluebonnets would smell exactly like a face-full of clean towels.” [source] Another says, “have a sweet perfume you can smell for miles.” [source] While a thread on a Civil War forum devolves into flower talk with one poster saying “They smell like heaven…Just very fresh and delightful.”
Bluebonnets don’t have any well established culinary uses. Other than appreciating their beauty— that’s usually it.
Lots of citrus on the nose. Lemon, boiled grapefruit and honeysuckle blossoms. There’s a slight juniper branch and bitter orange oil aroma underneath as well. The aroma is a pleasing combination of both floral and citrus notes.
The palate is sweetly floral with a lot going on. At first on the palate there’s notes of lilac, bitter orange and lime zest. Mid-palate, the flowers continue to unfold. This time Calamity Gin shows some of those vanilla-kissed, dewy honeysuckle notes from the nose. Slightly creamy, Calamity Gin becomes moderately dry towards the finish. Juniper, cubeb and citrus.
The finish is moderate length with a pleasant dryness. Clean, and crisp, Calamity Gin finishes strong.
Fans of floral-forward contemporary style gins will really love Calamity Gin. The heady, pollen dusted notes of rich, summer meadow are a complement to any cocktail with floral or citrus ingredients already. The Tom Collins was a particular stand out to me. It took on some summer field nuance, and echoed a comparison to perhaps a lightly strawberry flavored lemonade.
Similarly, I thought it worked well in a fairly Dry Martini, though I found it became muddled with lots of other ingredients. The Dirty Martini and the 3:1 Martini seemed a bit out of sync with one another. And the olives just didn’t work.
Calamity Gin makes a really good Gin and Juice as well. The floral and citrus goes together quite well. Though my favorite might have been The Monkey Gland. I don’t often invoke the equal parts gin and OJ cocktail with a scant ¼ oz each of grenadine, absinthe and simple syrup. But it’s really the perfect cocktail for Calamity Gin.
Incredibly floral, Calamity Gin delivers on the promise of Texas in spring. Bluebonnets and sweet, dewy flowers all over. If you like floral gins such as Dorothy Parker and Hendrick’s— and you’ve been thinking— “I need something with a bit more!” Calamity Gin is your gin.
The citrus notes are a nice compliment to the floral notes. Calamity Gin stands out on the shelf, but is sure to be a “love it” or “leave it” sort of gin.
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