Corsair Artisan Gin

Corsair Gin Bottle

Corsair Gin hails from a part of the United States that you might mistake for “bourbon country.” Corsair Artisan has two distillery locations: Tennessee and Kentucky. It may be that this unexpected location contributes some to the creativity in Corsair Gin. It boasts a rather unexpected array of flavors for a gin and shines in some rather unique ways.

We had the pleasure of tasting Batch 89 of Corsair Gin during our 50 States of Gin tasting. Let’s look a little bit closer.

A closer look, I mean taste.
The nose is complex and interesting. The most prominent flavor I get is a deep, broth-like smell that makes me think of the way the kitchen smells when you begin heating up a vegetable stock to make some soup. Hints of citrus and a bit of sweetness strike you early, but not a whole lot of juniper. Interestingly enough, on the nose alone I’m not sure I would pick this out as gin. But that’s not to say it calls to mind comparisons to any other spirit out there, there’s not a vodka or a rum or even bourbon that boasts a similar nose*.

The taste is where the juniper emerges from the background. There’s still a hint of that warm broth aroma, but it reveals itself here as a combination of more familiar gin flavors. Rosemary, thyme, even a bit of oregano and bay leaf. Unsurprisingly savory elements which one might see in a soup or a broth. The vegetable character is offset by a bit of sweetness too. There’s warm citrus in there, sweet lemon and orange rind, even calling to mind the taste of a carrot cake or other savory/citrusy sort of dish. This is a gin which reminds me of cooking in the kitchen. The finish is clear and junipery with a bit  of pepper lingering on the back of the palette. Its complex and there’s a lot going on here, and a lot of things going on which aren’t going on in many other gins.

Back of Corsair Bottle

Making Up Some Cocktails with Corsair Gin
Here’s where the writing gets a bit interesting. Corsair is a strong gin with an assertive point of view. And even when making cocktails, the warm herbal notes stand out.

I found the flavors to clash a little bit in a Tom Collins. While there’s a lot of ways to make that drink work, I found the flavor to be a bit dissonant. The lemon just doesn’t compliment the herbal notes, though there’s plenty of citrus here, that’s not necessarily what comes out. The same thing goes for the Gimlet and Gin Fizz.

I thought it was okay in an Aviation, but again I was looking for a bit more of the classic juniper and citrus flavor to come out than did. I still got  notes of the warm herbal bouquet, which as I said before, are interesting and complex, they just don’t particularly work.

Flip that coin over though. If you make a Martini though, I think this is a gin which works rather nicely. A subtle herbal vermouth compliments the herbs and brings out their sweeter, warmer side, while downplaying the elements which I said earlier reminded me “soup in the kitchen.”**

Sometimes a gin that works really well neat or on the rocks excels in cocktails where it is the unquestioned star. I think my characterization of Corsair is that while it is creative, unique and fun to taste, it doesn’t play well with others. Gin drinkers in search of something a bit more herbal though are really going to enjoy the Corsair Gin martini.

Corsair Gin with Q Tonic

Corsair Gin and Q Tonic:
Naturally, good American craft gin and good American craft tonic water go hand in hand. Q tonic is among my favorites so naturally I like to see how the pairing works. You get a bit of the warm herbal notes still, but the juniper is emphasized by the bitterness. The subtle sweetness reminds me of cake, cookies, and other citrus infused baked goods. Although I omitted a lime in the first batch, I think it works well with a little bit of acidic sweetness to round out the drink.

Price: $30/ 750 mL
[flag code=”US” size=”16″ text=”no”] Tennessee, United States
Best consumed:
Makes a great martini and delicious neat.
Availability: Most states and online [see here].
Rating: For gin drinkers who prefer martinis, or even sip their gin neat, Corsair Gin is a revelation and the rare gin that works excels in these areas. But for mixing, I’m not sure this batch does its best work in those situations. 

*At the time of tasting, there is one other gin: Leopold’s from Colorado that I think boasts a similar broth-like character. That being said, I would still describe the aroma as rather unique particularly because it is not a flavor which I think has a parallel available among mainstream brands.

**My wife is making soup in the kitchen right now. It is the first 50 degree day of the Fall season.

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Readers' Reviews

Last updated October 10th, 2012 by Aaron

4 thoughts on “Corsair Artisan Gin

  • October 10, 2012by Gin Wife

    And it was damn good soup, too.

    I’d pair it with, uh, that gin with the bird on it.

  • April 2, 2014by Jumbolia

    Great review- just tried my first bottle last night. The vegetable stock flavor you mentioned reminds me a lot of Rye whiskey! It has a bitter finish to me that clashes in cocktails. Although, of the cocktails mentioned, I think perhaps an Alaska cocktail with Green Chartreuse this may be an asset instead on a hindrance. I also tried with Robert Hess’ Clipper Ship Cocktail in which I thought the gin was much better than Beefeaters (or a dry gin) except for that after-taste. I’ll keep trying it in things. Perhaps a Negroni,,,?? Thanks –

  • May 18, 2014by Douglas Gaillard

    Harpeth river quality, native to this region and well known for a bit of backwater yellow root with a hint of carp after-taste. A fresh twist of lemon was no help for this lame excuse for gin.

  • August 28, 2015by romanhans

    Thanks for this! You’re a bit kinder than I am: I think this gin tastes like orange-flavored sore throat lozenges.

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