No. 209 Gin is a surprising elder statesman among American gins. First produced in 2005, the distillery whose license was first awarded to a Mr. Scheffler in 1882, now sits in the famous San Francisco Bay. Distillery No. 209 restored the history from Scheffler’s original Edge Hill site and now produces a line of gins including their flagship No. 209 Gin, as well as several barrel aged and kosher variants.
No. 209 Gin is pot distilled from a base spirit of corn. The botanicals are macerated over night before the final (and fifth distillation); though the distillery plays a bit secret with the exact number (is it 11? probably greater than 8….), No 209. Gin includes two types of citrus and a relatively classic botanical bill.
The nose is faintly spicy but largely citrus forward. Bitter orange and dry bergamot at the fore, while that spicy note reveals hints of coriander, cardamom, petitgrain and juniper. Quite nice, I really like this aroma, especially the intensity of the top notes that you can pick up as you pour. You can get the aroma without putting your nose in the gin. Which I find excites my palate.
The palate is quite true to the nose with citrus and spice coming through at first. The oranges notes are more clearly bergamot and the spice notes become more clearly cardamom especially mid-palate. Juniper and lemon zest lead into a finish that has hints of pink grapefruit and a creamy, dry character. No. 209 Gin to the palate is rich, slightly thick and almost luscious in texture. I really like the mouthfeel of it. And although the finish is on the medium to shorter end of gins, No. 209 Gin packs a lot of flavor and really nice character into itself.
No. 209 Gin makes an excellent Martini, especially served up with a twist and on the drier side (7:1). I like how it pairs with a good spicy Dry Vermouth as well. With a Gin and Tonic, the citrus notes rise to the fore; effervescent hints of bergamot, sweet orange oil and lemon zest pop. I prefer to garnish my N0. 209 Gin and Tonic with a lemon as supposed to a lime, to bring out some of the aroma that is already here.
Behind the bar, bartenders will surely find a lot to like in No. 209 Gin as a mixing partner. Although slightly more citrus forward than some of the most classic standbys, I find that the effect somewhat akin to Plymouth or Beefeater in more complex cocktails. To recommend a couple, I suggest a Ramos Gin Fizz and the Aviation. But I’ve yet to find a cocktail where No. 209 Gin didn’t work.
Accessible enough to appeal to fans of citrus type vodkas, and citrus-forward contemporary style gins, No. 209 Gin is easy-to-fall for. I think of it as what casual inexpensive citrus forward gins like New Amsterdam aspire to be.
While classic gin fans may find it a little too heavy on the citrus notes, I think as gin fans (I hope) we can all agree that the execution, the balance of flavor on both palate and the nose, and the enviable mixing characteristics of No. 209 Gin make it an easy recommendation to you whether you’re on the fence about gin or a seasoned gin vet.
If you haven’t checked out No. 209 Gin in its first decade of existence, let this be a clarion call for this next decade. Check it out.
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