All Gins from Illinois

Gin Reviews

Koval Dry Gin

Koval-Dry-Gin-Bottle

From a word meaning Blacksmith, Koval Distillery has been making spirits since 2008. Though perhaps best known for their whiskeys, their gin too is organic and grain-to-glass (and certified Kosher too). Embracing “woodland spices,” conceptually it may not call to mind Chicago, nor Illinois; however, the care, the process and handsome bottle design suggest that well executed concepts can be of anywhere and still be a winner.

Tasting Notes

At first whiff, you certainly might think of open fields and meadows in blossom. It’s warming and suggestively floral, with plenty of green juniper accompanied by rose, lavender, and vanilla notes.

The palate is creamy and rich, with juniper bringing some fresh pine and resinous notes, the florals really take blossom on the palate.

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Gin Reviews

Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. Gin

balum-brothers-bottle

I’ve lived the quintessential East Coast dream on at least a couple of occasions. To point a car West and to to head towards the other coast, stopping at all of the incredible go-between and pass-throughs along America’s state highways, and religiously avoiding the interstate when at all possible. For me, Galena, Illinois holds a unique place for me. Along US 20, it’s the gateway in my mind, that breaking point between the dense urbanity and never-too-far-from civilization feel of the East/Great Lakes and the wide-open expanses of the middle. It’s the beginning of the “everything else.” So each time I’ve driven west, I’ve stopped in Galena’s historic downtown, walked along the Galena river, and Paused.

Galena is home to Blaum Brothers Distilling Company. Located right along the aforementioned US 20, two brothers have been designing spirits from the ground up since 2013. The grains are sourced locally, distilled on their handmade copper still. They have an as-yet-released Rye and Bourbon in the works, but as for now they have vodka, moonshine, and gin out on the market. The gin is based on a small number of botanicals, each distilled individually with their wheat/rye base spirit, before being blended to create the final product.

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Gin Reviews

Letherbee Gin

letherbee gin bottle

Letherbee Gin has been created to be the “anti craft, craft gin,” says its distillers aiming to provide an affordable, high quality gin that’s main use is to be poured at bars, to become the main pour at restaurants. It’s not about the bottle, the bottle is an afterthought: its minimal appearance and cryptic tagline “Gin for wellness” are probably not enough to stand out on what is now a really crowded shelf. They want to stand out as a gin, as a local affordable well gin [made in Chicago], not as a package on a shelf of gin.

Commendable, as I judge a spirit not by its wrapper [though some are very nice], but by what’s inside.

Tasting Notes

Strong nose, juniper, fennel, cubeb and a bit of pepper. Gin like, with a bit of an edge. The taste is very loud, even by gin standards. Juniper begins early, some lemon peel, citrus rind, and coriander. The spices begin to shine in the middle before coming out quite loudly in the finish. Fennel and licorice, with a finale that really brings a bit of heat. Long fennel seed note on the finish.

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Gin Reviews

Few American Gin

few-american-gin-bottle

We’ve talked about Few’s quite excellent Aged Gin on this blog before, so I’m not sure how many surprises I have in store for you in this review.

In my previous review I threw around the word “Genever” a little bit, referring to the fact that unlike most gins which use a neutral-character base akin to vodka (in many cases, actually vodka). Few uses a base closer to a “white dog,” or white whiskey. This means that although it can be considered “neutral” in some sense of the word, it carries with it a distinct warming, toasty, almost grain-like flavor to the cocktail.

We’ve commented on this a great deal in the past. Other gins, such as Ingenium Gin, St George’s Dry Rye Gin and Smooth Ambler’s Greenbrier Gin have come at gin from this similar angle. The Beverage testing institute has described gins like this as “Genever-like Gin” in their recent evaluations of gins similar to Few. I’m not sure if that is the right name for it, but I believe that it properly conveys what is going on here.

Few American Gin is not a Genever. But it is not a normal gin.

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Gin Reviews

Corsair Experimental Collection: Barrel Aged Gin

corsair-barrel-aged-gin

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you probably have already heard and seen some of the gins in Corsair’s line of spirits reviewed already.

The fact that there are even three offerings in gin to review is a testament to the level of experimentation  and creativity that Corsair Artisan Distillers line of spirits shows. For example, among their other offerings (that aren’t gin) they have an Oatmeal Stout and Chocolate Mocha Porter whiskey, a spiced rum, pumpkin spice moonshine, and a vanilla bean infused vodka. While I’m often excited to see a distillery try one gin, Corsair has pushed it to a new level offering three different gins.

How does their experimental barrel aged gin hold up? Let’s delve forth. First, we sip it neat.

Neat The nose is a little heavy on ethanol. You can definitely tell there’s some alcohol in here. But if you back away, and waft it a bit, you can pick out some citrus and a sweet sugary note of vanilla. Not a whole lot of oak or aged notes on the nose, it surely doesn’t overwhelmingly strike you as aged, or even gin at that rate.

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