Topo Piedmont Gin

Topo Piedmont Gin

Topo Piedmont Gin hails from North Carolina, a state which has a small but growing number of craft distilleries. Previously, we’ve covered the contemporary spearmint forward Cardinal Gin ().

In our own (<100) words

From the “Top O(f) the Hill,” —Chapel Hill, North Carolina that is, the folks behind Topo (get it? Top O’) Restaurant, Brewery and Distillery have a line of spirits which thus far has won a great deal of accolades. But where it counts is what’s actually in the spirits, and they’ve left no box unchecked on the craft gin scorecard. Local? Check. North Carolina Wheat. Organic? Yep, certified. Even the name Piedmont refers to the Carolina foothills, bringing us full circle.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Sweet and a bit floral. Ripe berry in the top notes, creamy vanilla in the mid-notes. Juniper as well and a touch of citrus and cream, reminiscent of lemon curd. Bright and welcoming.

Palate: Some of the citrus present at first, bright in the top notes. Creamy with a butter, flaky crust. Hints of spices, quickly giving way to the meat of the taste. Sharp, punchy juniper. Cardamom and other baking spices. The base notes reveal a touch of velvety grassy sweetness, but predominantly fresh mint. Nice quality spirit: mouthfeel is medium soft, with a slow warming sensation leaving heat on back of palate. The finish is crisp, a touch of the floral fruit note from the nose returns, albeit briefly, before leaving a crisp, pleasantly warm sensation on the palate.

Easy to drink and pleasantly contemporary with a nice amount of juniper. A good bridge for fans of the classic style breaking over into the contemporary styles. I quite enjoyed it on its own, although it was not as assertive in cocktails as I expected for 92 proof.

Cocktails

The Gin and Tonic was extremely easy-to-drink as well, though it betrayed Topo Piedmont Gin’s more contemporary qualities. Fruit and cardamom came through most strongly, with a hint of cinnamon on the finish. A bit unexpected, but the tonic really elevated and brought out some notes that didn’t seem very evident on its own. Recommended.

Topo wore a completely different hat in the Martini: creamy and somewhat mellow. Vanilla and spiced cake on the finish. Again, juniper wasn’t necessarily as far up the front as I might have expected, although I would be lying if I said I did anything other than quite enjoy it. Very smooth and nicely balanced. Recommended. 

The Negroni was perhaps the most surprising of the cocktails I tried it in. Although not necessarily a disappointment, the murky base notes of this drink failed to highlight the gin’s finer points. A touch of juniper up front, a spiritous push on the back end with Campari dominating, but detectable hints of cardamom and fresh mint.

The more I play with it, the more I think that Ted Haigh’s Three to One is really a rather ingenious cocktail. My notes have the words “Citrus Harmony,” and Topo provides a beautiful counterpoint to the sharp sweet acidity of fresh lime. Long and sweet, tart apricot finish with fresh lemon in the mid notes.

Finally, we took Topo for a ride in the Aviation. Lemon and Orange in the top notes, fresh with baking spice, lemon, juniper, and a warm grainy pleasantness, with the mid-notes veering slightly towards pine. Really quite nice, complimenting quite nicely while again showing off its variety of different botanical profiles.

Favorite Drinks: Martini and Gin and Tonic.

Topo Gins spread
Rating: Well balanced, Topo Piedmont Gin bridges the worlds of classic and contemporary gin. It never lacks in juniper profile, instead skillfully interweaving staples of the contemporary style, such as cardamom and mint, while resting on top of a smooth, well-made base spirit. Overall, it’s not hard to see why the accolades have been coming in for Topo Piedmont Gin. It’s a gin that I quite liked and would be proud to have on my bar.

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Readers' Reviews

Last updated March 24th, 2014 by Aaron

6 thoughts on “Topo Piedmont Gin

  • March 25, 2014by Ben D

    Thanks for the review! I live in North Carolina (a short drive would take me to the Topo Distillery). I’ve had the Cardinal Gin, but have yet to try the Topo Piedmont Gin. That will change this evening. Making a little detour on the way home to pick up a bottle based on your review.

  • April 3, 2014by Ben D

    I finally was able to try this last night. I don’t know if it’s my inexperienced palate but this gin was not to my liking. So far I’ve sampled it neat and in a gin and tonic (with hanson’s tonic). My first impression was it had almost a “tequila” nose and taste. It was okay neat, but I didn’t care for it in a gin and tonic. I get strong grain or wheat flavors. “Grassy” is the closest I can come to describing it. I much prefer another NC distilled gin, Cardinal. It is very mint forward. I was very disappointed in Topo. After reading your review I had high hopes. I also wonder if maybe there are some differences from batch to batch. I don’t know what batch yours is from, but mine was bottle 457 from batch #2.

  • August 8, 2014by Todd

    I had it in a martini for the first time tonight. My favorite gin is Citadelle, but the restaurant I was at did not have it. The bartender talked me into this. I like my martinis with just a splash of vermouth. I did not like this. Had a strange, overpowering flavor that I couldn’t place. Although, I must say that my wife does not like my regular martinis or the taste of straight gin, but she did like this.

  • September 4, 2015by J Pegram

    Worst gin I havd ever had. Literally just flushed it down the toilet. Don’t waste your money.

  • February 10, 2016by Bruce

    The first time I tasted this, shaken and straight, I really didn’t like it all. Then, I tried it in a gin and tonic; just incredibly tasty. Re-tried it cold and straight and loved it. Found it worked super well in a Bee’s Knees, but not at all in a gin based Bloody Mary. As it’s just wonderful in the ways I almost always drink gin, Topo has found a permanent spot on my shelf.

  • March 8, 2016by Judy Bergman

    I’ve been very disappointed in it too. And have been using it for fresh flowers – a tablespoon makes the flowers stay fresh longer. What a waste. There is no juniper taste, to me just tastes like grain alcohol. No flavor. The ABC store said it’s won awards. DId I just get a bad mix? Batch #1. I’ve had it for a while, it’s never been good. Give me Gordons. Or Hendrix. Or Boodles if I can get it.

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