Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin

Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin Bottle

Hailing from the watershed.
Which is known as Catoctin Creek.
Its waters are known to drain
To the bay called Chesapeke.

And the distillers
call Loudon County, VA their home
Released a few years back
a gin of their very own!

So they built their gin from scratch
Up on a base of Rye!
and the label says its organic!
for which it is genuinely certified!

So what say you Aaron?
what do you think of this gin?
At 100 proof it brings its heat
what kind of cocktails will you mix it in?

Enough with the Rhymes/Its drinking time!
We’ll hang up our poetry hat for a moment and get down to business right here. The nose is a tad strawlike, notes or carraway and pepper, but with a hint of something a bit jam-like in there, giving off hints of hibiscus and blueberry. Very subtly floral, but predominantly grainy. It doesn’t quite have a white whiskey nose, but you can tell you might be in the neighborhood.

At 100 proof,you might be expecting it to a bit harsher than it is. True, while it brings a noticeable heat, it is still rather smooth. While Catoctin Creek Distilling Company keeps their list of botanicals a secret, we don’t know exactly what’s in here, but a few things do come to mind.

Juniper and a hint of cassia up front, that faintly floral sweetness appears again. Then you get some coriander, you get a bit of earthy musk, rich and dark. There’s a citrus character in the middle, little bit of lemon and it ends with a rich woody finish. Carraway and anise in the finish with a black pepper sort of sharpness. Long faintly spicy finish.

Quite nice, robust and while contemporary in flavor, the overall feel of the spirit feels more traditional. The sharpness of juniper in a London Dry is mimicked by pepper, carraway, juniper and a bit of alcohol burn. It reminds me of the mouth feel of a traditional style gin while not quite tasting like one. The combination of the woody Rye and that faint floral character make the exact impression of Watershed Gin kind of hard to place. There’s a lot going on, and its quite interesting, slowly unraveling and revealing itself when tasted neat. Its a very interesting, almost cerebral gin.

Enough with the fact that it makes you think / how does it taste in a drink?
I’m a big fan of gins which I’ve called in some posts, “overproof” at 47.5% or higher ABV. Coming in at 50%, its not quite Navy Strength, but it does hold its own without being absolutely overpowering.

the spectrum of gins
Click to enlarge

What I like about gins at this proof is that they come in at this sweet spot, where a gin can still be powerful, but not too powerful. For example, anything to the right of the “green line,” known in the literature as the Chartreuse/Absinthe limit is generally a bit stronger than most people would like to drink undiluted. These spirits require dilution or to be mixed in cocktails. If you’re the drinker of extra dry martinis [soap box about those “not being martinis aside….”] you’re probably going to be staying clear of the Navy Strength, as they can be a bit harsh and not conducive to sipping in this manner. Sure, if you shake it with ice, or dilute it slightly [a la a good bourbon] it will work. But probably not on its own.

The “sweet spot” is the place I like most of my spirits to be for mixing. Strong enough to hold their own in drinks and show off their unique qualities, but also not so strong as that you can’t enjoy them neat, extra dry martinis, etc. Watershed Gin falls in this magic spot at 100 proof.

I found that it worked well in cocktails, being very agreeable in terms of mixing. While I liked the way it worked in a gin and tonic, I thought some of its best work was in strong cocktails. The Negroni, the Argentine Cocktail and other drinks with Campari, Amari and other vivid ingredients really were kept in check with the bold flavors of Watershed gin. It is a top notch drink for mixing in cocktails.

Now I’m thirsty enough to fill my cup / what do you say we wrap this up?
Overall, I think its quite an excellent gin. The flavor is nice, complex and worth coming back to. Its   contemporary styled but made in the spirit of a “London Dry.” The Rye base is intriguing and helps add some depth to the flavor. Its quite a good gin, but it straddles a somewhat difficult place in the market place. Gin aficionados might find it strays a bit too far from the classic London Dry profile, while fans of modern gin might find that it doesn’t go far enough. Its also not quite Rye enough to be a gin drinker to appeal to the most ardent whiskey lover. Its really its own thing, and while its quite good and worth seeking out for what it does well, I’m not quite sure who [other than adventurous fans of craft gin] to recommend it to. Its good, but its rather hard to generalize it any further than that.

Price: $38/ 750 mL
[flag code=”US” size=”16″ text=”no”] Virginia, United States
Best consumed:
Good cocktail gin, really shined in the Negroni.
Availability: New York, Kentucky, Virginia, DC, Tennessee, Wyoming and California [see website]
Rating: Contemporary styled gin marching to the beat of its own drum. Lots of spice  and complex flavors, at a proof that makes it a great addition to any bar. 

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Readers' Reviews

Last updated January 24th, 2013 by Aaron

2 thoughts on “Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin

  • November 20, 2015by Ward

    Seriously? As a descendant of original Virginians, I think this website’s description is beyond understandable. I paid a middle-high price at the ABC for a southern product. Yuck. It tastes like it was cold-filtered through Rob Grontkowki’s gym bag. Seriously, there is a nose and aftertaste of funky feet to this stuff. How could you get more Yankee than that? Try again next year, team. As a Virginian I’ll risk another bottle just for the pride of the Commonwealth.

  • February 14, 2017by Shelly

    I’ll try any gin–especially if it’s made here in Virginia (where I live). I worked my way through one bottle, and then somebody gave me a second, because they thought I liked the stuff.

    To me, it’s rather un-gin-like (and has too much in common with the white whiskey they also make). I find an earthy quality to it that makes me think it would go well with stuffed-mushroom hors d’oeuvres, or a mushroom-infused Brie. It’s my favorite gin for a Negroni! But apart from that, Catoctin’s earthiness (and dare I say, almost an “industrial” taste) makes it less satisfactory in other classic lemon/lime-based gin cocktails. (It blunts the brightness in a Last Word, or a Bee’s Knees, for example.)

    I’m hoping no one gifts me with another bottle….

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