St George’s Dry Rye Gin

St. George's Dry Rye GinI can see how some people who profess a love of gin might turn their nose up and this fine gin [and more on how fine a gin very soon] and other gins like this [Smooth Ambler’s Greenbrier comes to mind]. Although not officially a requirement of gin, most gins work from a truly neutral spirit base. Not simply in the sense that the base alcohol is “unflavored,” but in the sense that the base flavor brings little to no discernible flavor of its own. I would say that apple, potato and the various types of wheat fall into this category.

But then we have the outliers, the gins that use a neutral-in-definition-only base alcohol spirit: Grape from G’vine and Seneca Drums; and the Whiskey/Rye style base of gins like Smooth Ambler’s and St George’s Dry Rye Gin.

Why might these great gins not win over every gin-drinker? Well because I think in taste and mouthfeel they resemble a nice Genever more than your average gin, and possibly even a White Whiskey.  Are they gin? Most definitely. But sometimes I wonder if there needs to be another category of gin unto itself. I’ve already said that I don’t think “New Western” is a style as its just a contemporary spin on an already classic formula. But are these gins, which err towards a more whiskey like base? And even more so, what if you age this spirit [Smooth Ambler’s aged gin is going to be reviewed soon]? Is it truly just a gin anymore?

Philosophy aside, let’s get down to the actual spirit. As mentioned, I really really enjoy this gin. So let’s see how it tastes.

Notes on Drinking St George’s Dry Rye Gin
The first thing that is noticeable on the nose is a distinct malty character, with peppercorn and caraway notes clear and up front. The taste is a whole different world, a warm malty texture and a vivid burst of juniper. While not aged, it truly tasted woodsy and dense. There’s a faint hint of candied, almost burnt citrus fruit, and then a long rye and juniper finish. Stunning and quite memorable.

Again, the challenge of these malt based gins is that they mix rather unevenly in traditional gin cocktails. As with a genever, I’m hesitant to suggest a Tom Collins for this gin. But if you look on the bolder side of the cocktail canon, I think there’s few better cocktails than a Negroni with this Dry Rye Gin. Though in character if  might recall to mind the mouthfeel and bold Rye base of a well-made Manhattan, the juniper notes come through and suggest a good Negroni as well.

I would suggest that you treat St George’s Dry Rye Gin as a specialty gin. Great Martinis and top notch Negronis. The Gin and Tonic might be an acquired taste for some. I’d recommend countering the strong malt with a bold herbal tonic [Tomr’s, Liber and Co. or another tonic syrup come to mind]. I’d suggest avoiding it in citrus forward cocktails like the Tom Collins, the Aviation or others of the ilk. But for what it doesn’t do great among classic gin cocktails, it does a solid number on Whiskey cocktails. So while the average gin drinker might not drink gin Old Fashioneds, the St. George’s Dry Rye Gin makes the Gin Old Fashioned a must.

This does not mean that this gin has failings. In fact far from it, this is exactly what this gin was going for. Great neat, good in any number of cocktails. Smooth and flavorful, a gin that I can recommend wholeheartedly to gin and whiskey drinkers alike, as long as they know what they’re getting into.

Is it a new style unto itself? Time will only tell if these sort of gins catch on and proliferate. But right now, I think that while there’s other excellent gins that do similar things very well, I don’t think I’ve tasted it any that do it quite as well as this one.

Price: $35 / 750 mL
Origin: [flag code=”US” size=”16″ text=”no”] California, United States
Best consumed:  
Sip it neat, Martinis [you can even go extra dry] or Negronis
Availability: New York and California [full list here]
Rating: A fantastic rye base gin. Among the best gins I’ve had, even if it doesn’t do everything a gin should do, the things it does do are so good, that you can’t help but really fall in love. This is a love letter to all whiskey drinkers, from gin drinkers. Cheers.

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Readers' Reviews

Last updated August 15th, 2012 by Aaron

10 thoughts on “St George’s Dry Rye Gin

  • August 15, 2012by FoodiePilgrim

    Did you try it in a Pink Gin or a cocktail with interesting bitters? I’d love a report!

  • August 15, 2012by Aaron

    I actually didn’t try it a pink gin. I did try it an a Gin Old Fashioned with Fee Bros. Walnut Bitters (my absolute favorite for Manhattans). It did not disappoint.

    But I like the idea of trying it in a classic, simply Pink Gin. I will and since I have an extensive bitters collection, I’ll try it with something different than the Old Fashioned. and report back.

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  • August 8, 2013by Anonymous Noob

    Not a connoisseur. Not a fan of whiskey, thus I really don’t like this too much. May be my unrefined tongue, but i could barely taste the juniper from the overpowering rye/malt base. Loved the botanivore and really liked the terroir by st George though.

  • August 8, 2013by mike

    absolutely hated this gin. Was left wondering why they. Had 2 friends try it as well. Both thought it was horrible.

  • August 9, 2013by AaronPost author

    You and anonymous aren’t the friends are you?

    Well, I’m sorry to hear that. It’s a little non-traditional. I think it’s a great example and the best executed version of this specific white-whiskey base style, I will readily admit that it’s not perhaps the most gin-like gin out there. I’d suggest rolling with the Terroir/Botanivore if you’re looking for a St. George’s that is a bit more gin like [and both are well executed as well]

    I’d also suggest avoiding other gins of this ilk: Few American Gin, Smooth Ambler’s Greenbrier, Ingenium. They do good things, each and every one, some err more on the side of the whiskey and that can be an issue if you’re looking for something which makes a good gin and tonic.


  • August 14, 2013by Anonymous Noob

    No don’t know mike haha. Thanks for the tips on Gina to avoid!

  • October 23, 2013by Bruce

    What to make of this? First off, I definitely like this “gin”. Tried it shaken and poured. The caraway and the juniper leap out at you. Had I not known what I had poured, I would have thought, highly stylized aquavit. Well, gin and aquavit are close cousins. Next, had it with some Fentmans to tonic. Very interesting. Halfway through the glass, I added a small piece of lemon. Liked it better with the citrus. Perhaps, tomorrow, I might make a spicy Bloody Mary mixture and try it that way. But, right now, I’m thinking the way to really enjoy St. George’s Dry Rye Gin is at night, after dinner, neat with a cigar, out by my pool.

  • November 14, 2013by Rich

    I was looking for genever for a recipe I wanted to try and this popped up. Not a gin connoisseur, but I prefer the dryer gins (cannot stomach Tanqueray). My level of appreciation is more like Hendricks. Question here is what would be considered a standard brand of genever? I tasted the St George neat and just about spit it out. More shock than anything – I eventually drank a shot (sipping carefully) and did discover a few interesting points but did not like it overall. Again, looking for a baseline genever so I can try this damn recipe. Bols is advertising a classic rendition of genever. thanks anyone.

  • October 9, 2014by MIchael

    Just got a bottle. Great stuff. First had it last year in a cocktail at Velveteen Rabbit downtown Vegas arts district (near Fremont St, not the strip). Can’t remember exact recipe, but it had Amaro Montenegro which is one of my favorite amaros. I’ve been seraching for St. George locally in New England area ever since. I found a bottle of the Terroir in NH a while back, which if you like pine won’t disappoint. I’m not a fan of heavy botanical gins, but I do like Hendricks so maybe I’ll give the Botanivore a shot if I see it on the shelf somewhere.

    Used the Dry Rye in a martini last night with 1/2 oz of Dolin Dry. It was interesting, unique, and fairly smooth, but imo not as good as Dolin with Broker’s or Plymouth. Sipping it straight today is a much different experience (better) and I can see the bourbonesque cocktail opportunities.

    Funny thing, I’ve been searching for walnut liquor for another recipe and never occurred to me I might have better luck finding walnut bitters. I will certainly be making a Dry Rye Manhattan soon, and once I get my hands on walnut something or other, look out!

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