“Organic,” for a while I thought was going to be the next BIG thing in spirits. It seemed all at once that vodkas and gins were appearing on the shelf at my local liquor store advertising that the botanicals, the base, everything was organic. So slowly, it seemed an inevitability that the USDA label would start appearing on liquor bottles, proclaiming (legally) that at least 95% of this beverage’s components were produced in accordance with USDA’s guidelines for calling something organic.
Well, I won’t turn this into a referendum on the “organic” label, nor on the USDA’s guidelines. Let’s get to the gin. Straight out of Minnesota, brought to use from the same people that make Crop Vodka [side note, better known as the folks who make the cucumber and the tomato vodka], we have Farmer’s Botanical Organic Gin.
Getting down to business
The scent is a little bit juniper and the faintest bit floral, with more than a little bit of alcohol burn. We are dealing with 93.4 proof gin here, so this is to be expected.
The tasting is where the array of flavors in Farmer’s gin begin to reveal themselves. Although juniper isn’t the focal point, it is very much present and pleasant. The mid palate sweetness of the elderflower is inescapable. If you’re down with the elderflower trend (and I very much am), you’ll like the lasting sweetness that compliments the dryness and the surprisingly mellow alcohol burn. If you’re not down with the elderflower, this might not be the gin for you.
Another note in here that makes Farmer’s stand out is the Lemongrass. Bombay Sapphire East put Lemongrass to nice work as well, though I think I prefer the way it is revealed in Farmer’s. Its a bit more vegetable-like, and the elderflower note I think is a much nicer sidekick than the spicy pepper. If Bombay Sapphire East’s lemongrass brings to mind a wok and spicy dish, Farmer’s botanical brings to mind more of a warm late summer harvest. Sure, the name of the gin likely fed into my choice of metaphor, but all the same, I think its an appropriate descriptor of the character of this gin.
Making a few Drinks
Surely, the 93.4% proof helps this gin go a long ways in a cocktail. But right now I’m going to do something a bit different. Normally I’ll tell you that it makes a good gin and tonic (it does), a good Negroni (check) and then throw in one of my classic staples (Aviation anyone? yes, please). But today, I’ll point out a couple of cocktails suggested by other reviewers and weight in with a take on them:
You might spike lemonade with it, and appreciate the 93.4 proof. I like it neat, on the rocks, with a generous squirt of lime. [New York Times, June 2010]
Its strength makes Farmer’s gin an an obvious call for spiking a large amount of “juice,” but I want to look at the second option. Neat w/ a squirt of lime? I admit, I’ve never had gin quite this way before. This is one of those cocktails that gets a bit better and more drinkable as the ice melts. The lime is a nice compliment and the elderflower seems to give way to more juniper flavor as the drink goes on. An enjoyable, if a bit unorthodox way to sip gin.
They suggest drinking in aFarmers Runaway, which includes lime juice, lemongrass syrup, maraschino liqueur, and a “dash” of creme de violette. [Proof 66 review]
These syrups are always a bit of a hassle. Sure, a good lemongrass syrup can do a lot of good, like add some lemongrass notes to a Tom Collins, say with a gin that doesn’t have any to start with. The lemongrass is here, so I don’t think you’d be too far off in doing what I did and using regular simple syrup. Other than that, you’re looking at an Aviation cocktail with a citrus change. Swap the lemon for a lime. I’ve looked at these sort of takes on the Aviation before and I think that the citrus swap can change the flavor for the better, but not affect the underlying balance of the cocktail. This drink works, if only because it really is an aviation at its heart. The Elderflower is a nice backup singer to compliment the Creme De Violette.
Price: $32 / 750 mL
Best consumed: A great mixing gin, it does make a mean Aviation
Availability: Primarily California and New York [availability from Farmer's Gin website]
Rating: I haven’t tasted a better organic gin yet, and even without the organic label its a standout gin. Many others are making gins with similar botanicals, so although it may not win points for being the first to the game, it does a lot of things well and its hard to take too many points for them on botanicals alone.