Price: $30+ / 750 mL
Distiller: Walter Collective
Origin: Oregon, United States
Availability: Portland and Bend, Oregon [see here]
Rating: Fans of classic gins will find a lot to like here, as it takes many of the tropes of the style and only slightly tweaks them to create an original product. I’m not sure I can clearly call it classic because the spice, citrus, and coriander in particular are dialed up quite loudly, to the point that its clearly more modern in taste profile. But not so much that it eschews the past. It’s an update, a good update at that and one that is true to the Collective’s self-declared manifesto. I quite like it, and would definitely recommend it. It’s an exceptional example of what David Smith describes as a Transatlantic style gin, that is one which occupies the space between the historical British styles and the bolder, more botanical forward contemporary/American takes on gin. [Rating:4/5]
The Walter Collective (like many collectives it starts with a statement of purpose) says that contemporary gins can be so out there that there barely recognizable as gin; classic gins can be one-dimensional and overwhelming in their single focus. They aspire to be something that is both but neither. That is classic, while contemporary.
I love the bottle of this, it has a real emotional impact in both its design and art to the actual physical appearance, including the glass stopper. It feels and sounds different, which I think in terms of a crowded marketplace, actually does mean something. Emotionally, I think it strikes you as different even from the get-go.
And I think this is important because if you get down to it, Italian Juniper is pretty much the source everyone is using these days. Tuscan juniper is the world’s source essentially. Though many are looking for it elsewhere, by all accounts its the primary source for most gin distillers across the world. Secondly, the spices/citrus profile it promotes sounds similar as well.
So the bottle stands out while the description sounds a little ordinary. But for me, tasting the gin is kind of like the Snitch in Quidditch. The entirety of the game preceding its release isn’t worth the time you spent watching it because the Snitch is like a Deus Ex Machina of the sports world* Yeah, the taste is kind of important. How did the Walter Collective do?
The nose is strikingly classic with a pleasant dash of juniper and a hint of citrus as well. Its aroma feels very traditional, but is quite inviting and wonderful. I really like the nose on this gin.
The palate is sharp and quite loud. There’s eight botanicals at play in here, and though not disclosed on the bottle you can detect a couple of them quite clearly. It’s sharp at first, with a little bit of heat, juniper coming on crisply, while the finish segues with a loud coriander-dominated finish, almost coming off a bit floral. There are certainly hints of spice, perhaps grapefruit and lemon, and other gentle spice notes, cohesively reminiscent of pie spice, though I might suggest there’s a hint of ginger back behind the coriander on that finish.
It’s crisp and clean. In terms of what they set out to do, I have to say: mission accomplished. It’s certainly classic without feeling single-minded in its pursuit of juniper. Quite loud on its own, I think it makes a great Gin and Tonic or Negroni. It’s versatile and adds a nice, if slightly more juniper heavy punch to cocktails like the Aviation. The Greyhound is a lovely complement to the Walter Collective Gin [it was in fact suggested by their website] and I find that it helps amplify a white grapefruit note, the only thing I didn’t really love was the Martini, which surprised me because I thought it was quite good neat. I think that there was a bit too much coriander coming through and I’m not sure it was as smooth as I’ve come to expect in my gins.
Overall, I think it does a lot of things well. The citrus comes through but is amplified in mixed drinks; while the coriander and juniper carry a rich character which is much more evident in the G&T or on its own.
*If professional Quidditch was a thing, I’d imagine that teams would spend inordinate amounts of money on the Seeker, and you could invest nearly nothing in the other positions, assuming that a good Seeker could win you slightly more than 50% of the matches you play, you could probably play people off the street and bide time until the Snitch is released. I’d imagine this would be a good strategy for managing a Quidditch team and would probably result in a good deal of championships. Being a Bludger would probably not be a viable career path. Perhaps the best Bludgers would all go pro in Hockey or something.
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