A couple of weekends ago I paid visit to Washington D.C.’s preeminent Gin distillery. Not only was it great to meet the people behind the operation, see their great space, but I was also amazed at the buzz of activity in their distillery on a Saturday afternoon. People were laughing loudly at a bottling party; there was a constant stream of folks coming in for tastings and tours. I’ve been in some museums that would be envious of the size of the tour group that I saw in the distillery on this Saturday. So all in all, the distillery was quite a hub of activity in what at first sight seemed like a rather out of the way location in Washington D.C.*.
Now there are two things most people want to know about this gin.
One) How does it taste.
Two) Why “Green Hat.”
Well I’m only equipped to answer one of those questions. If you want to learn about the Green Hat, go to the New Columbia Distillers’ website. The come back here for the review.
About the Gin, not the Hat.
The nose is very floral, very pronounced. You get notes of juniper, lemon and a bright almost jammy sweetness. The nose gives away Green Hat as a contemporary styled gin.
The taste on its own is surprising. It isn’t as bold as the nose might have suggested it would be. But also, for just how drinkable it is on its own. Only the slightest edge of heat. Very, very smooth. There’s a crisp citrus flavor at first, very clear, hints of lemon and orange and a bright floral note. The flavors begin to shift, rich earthy base comes out a bit more clearly here with the juniper still just on the edges of the palate hovering in the background. The finish is clean with very little heat but it ends of summer fields [Lavender? I wanted to say it reminded me a bit of Marigold and Elderflower] and an interesting salty note at the end [I’d say its probably from the Celery Salt].
Overall I found it to be quite nice, there’s a lot going on in here and a lot of the flavors are unusual for gin. Where it most stands out is that its so very smooth and drinkable on its own. 82.1 proof would put at the lower end of gins in terms of strength, but don’t let that affect your perception of how its flavors work in mixing. The flavors are bold and stand up [and out]. I think that this makes one of the best gin and tonics that I’ve had this year. On the same side of the coin, the floral and jammy flavor makes this gin one that doesn’t fit most people’s ideas of a gin. If there’s anyone in 2013 who still thinks that gin is all about “pine needles” and “fire,” give them some Green Hat Gin. I’d say its a great gateway to gin and some of the new spins people are putting on gin.
I’d say that it most closely reminds me of Dorothy Parker in terms of a craft distillery take on the floral contemporary approach that Hendrick’s pioneered several years back.
In terms of making drinks with it, I found it worked quite well in every drink I added it to. Stellar in a martini because it is so very smooth. Loved the Gin and Tonics, but found it even worked well as I dove deep into the archives. Works best when paired with something citrusy or floral. Some of the liqueuers that I found to overpower it were Campari and Cherry Heering specifically, although that’s not to suggest it made a bad Negroni. Hardly, just that the floral complexity that makes Green Hat such a rewarding gin were somewhat pushed to a supporting role.
Price: $35/ 750 mL
Origin: [flag code=”US” size=”16″ text=”no”] Washington D.C., United States
Best consumed: Good in a lot of things, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that the Gin and Tonic was my favorite.
Availability: Only D.C. right now, but at many top notch cocktail bars in Washington.
Rating: While there’s been a lot of floral contemporary style gins out there competing for your G&T dollar, this one should find its way to your shelf if you’re looking for this kind of gin. Fans of classic styled gin should heed the warning signs and be aware that juniper is somewhat in the background here. Great gateway gin for those who are not believers in gin yet and one that will be supremely refreshing. My only critique might be that I wish it was bottled at a higher strength, perhaps 45%+ rather than the 41.1%, which might allow its point of view better heard in some cocktails. Overall though, worth checking out.
*Which isn’t all that odd if you think about it. How much industry do you associate with Washington D.C.? Not much, which means there isn’t much space in the city zoned for industrial uses. Important for distillers as distillation is considered an “industrial use.” Its not just the distilling community’s love of exposed brick, and revitalization-chic behind the location of most distilleries.
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