If you have ever heard of a craft beer or ever been into a bar that sells more than just Bud, Bud Light and Heineken on tap then surely you’re familiar with the name “Dogfish Head.” They are certainly best known for their beers. During the time of my life where I could drink beer [for those of you new to this blog, I’m unable to eat gluten] I was a big fan of Dogfish Head’s microbrews.
Fast forward a few years to the “50 States of Gin” tasting, and I discovered that Delaware [our nation’s first state, mind you] has only one gin distilled within its boundaries. And that hailed from the place best known for its beer.
Unfortunately, they only sell “Jin” at their distillery. Fortunately for David and I, they were willing to send us a bottle for their tasting. So now if you’re passing through the state of Delaware, and maybe your homebrew buddy wants to drag you through a brewery tour, I can let you know just what will be awaiting you when you get to the tasting room.
On to the tasting:
The first thing I want to point out about Dogfish Head Jin is that it boasts a relatively straight forward selection of botanicals that are clearly identified on the front of the bottle: Juniper [x], Coriander [x], Cucumbers [x] and hops? [x].
Perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised that a distillery operated by a bunch of people who really know their beer might experiment with hops in their gin. Hops are often used in beer because of their balanced flavor profile and the fact they help impede growth of hamrful microorganisms in beer.
The nose smells sweet and herbal. The aroma calls to mind wet vegetation and sweet cucumber. When poured into a cup it opens up and you get a bit of the juniper on the nose.
When sipping, you get a strong burst or juniper and earthy warm coriander. The finish is drying, with again a clean juniper finish but a lingering slight sweetness, largely owing to the cucumber. The flavor profile calls to mind a couple of other gins which make use of cucumber to great effect: Hendrick’s, Martin Miller’s. But unlike those gins which have strong citrus or floral characters, Dogfish Head Jin finished clean with just a touch of bitterness. One note that I’m not sure to make of is that there’s a touch of peppery spice in the finish. Its not labeled on the front. Of course, the label isn’t necessarily completely inclusive [it doesn’t say ONLY four botanicals]. It has a sharp character akin of a black Tellicherry black peppercorn.
Now, I think that Dogfish Head Jin is quite nice, but could it benefit from citrus? I think most certainly it could. But the good news is a cocktail can help fix this. Add an extra squeeze of lemon and lime in your gin and tonic. Mix it into a Tom Collins. Even zest an orange over the top of your Negroni to get some orange oils into your drink. Like I said, its good, but I found that to be a note which was lacking in the gin.
How does it fare in cocktails?
Like I said, add some extra citrus to round out Dogfish Head Jin in a cocktail. Its strong and assertive, with the juniper at the front and shining beautifully. The gin does not get dominated easily.
I think it shone in a Negroni. It was zesty, warm, and still retained some of its spicy character. But with the Vermouth in a Martini, quite another side revealed itself. Warm, vegetable, cucumber notes revealed theirselves mingling with the vermouth. Diluted with just a bit of ice water and chilled, the smooth bitterness shows itself. The bitter notes are blurred in an otherwise still quite good Gin and Tonic.
I could easily recommend this as a good gin for mixing in complex cocktails. Take a Last Word for example, this gin’s flavor profile fits in perfectly in the gaps the ingredients leave. Or maybe you’re making an Alaska Cocktail? Dogfish head Jin compliments and rounds out the herbal profile of the Yellow Chartreuse. No bitters needed, that flavor profile is already in here.
Origin: [flag code=”US” size=”16″ text=”no”] Delaware, United States
Best consumed: Gin and Tonic was top notch in my opinion.
Availability: The distillery in Delaware.
Rating: Warm and junipery, and while not completely in the classic style, there’s a lot here which should appeal to fans of the classic style without being too straight-laced London Dry.
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