All Gins from Washington

Gin Reviews

Spy Hop Distilled Gin

Spy Hop Gin Bottle

With extremely limited distribution, Spy Hop Distilled Gin, and the rest of the line which includes several other spins on the local fauna of the San Juan Islands are pretty much only available there. And by design too. By keeping their distribution radius small, they cultivate a local following, but also are able to experiment in ways, and on scales that a large scale distiller wouldn’t be able to.

Spy Hop gin is a study in the terroir of the San Juan Islands mashed up with a traditional, global, assortment of ingredients. Cardamom meet local lavender. Local barks meet lemon, orris root meet wild roses and so on.

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Gin Reviews

Bourbon Barreled Big Gin

Big-Gin-Bourbon-Barrel-Aged

Bourbon Barreled Big Gin. 100% Corn base spirit, with a relatively traditional botanical bill buoyed by Tasmanian Pepperberry and Cardamom, the folks at Captive Spirits Distilling rest their flagship gin in barrels formerly used by Heaven Hill Distillery for their Bourbon.

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Gin Reviews

Counter Gin

counter-gin-bottle

Up in the distilling hotbed of the Pacific Northwest, Counter Gin hails from Batch 206 Distillery in Seattle Washington. They’ve quickly become one of the bigger names on the Seattle distilling scene. Today we take a look at their flagship gin.

In our Own <100 Words

“Small batch,” “local,” “handmade” and “artisan” are among the words that describe the products and philosophy at Batch 206 from the products themselves all the way to the still they’re made on. The gin begins as their flagship vodka. Then, the eight botanicals are steeped in the vodka for 36 hours. The infusion is then redistilled to make Counter Gin. The cucumber and lavender are local, but the rest have their provenance well defined, the juniper is from Albania for example, and we all know how important that can be.

Tasting Notes

The nose is floral and herbal. Orange, tarragon, rosemary and lavender notes shine out. The notes are bright and fresh, each easy to pick out on its own; however, the nose is a little restrained and not overwhelming. There’s a low vegetal note present as well, calling to mind hints of tarragon and cucumber.

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Gin Reviews

Hedgetrimmer Gin

Hedgetrimmer Gin

For our next review, we travel back to that distilling hotbed that it is Washington State. This mini I picked up when I was in Seattle for the American Distilling Institute gathering this past spring. I’d heard good things about Sun Liquor Distillery and wanted to try for myself.

In our own < 100 Words

If you haven’t heard of Sound Spirits’ offerings, you might have seen them– that is if you’ve ever flown Alaska airlines. Rare is the local product which rises (pun intended) to the level as to be served on a major airline. That aside, Sun Liquor was first a lounge (2006), then a restaurant, bar and distillery (2011), and they’ve been selling their gin over the counter ever since. Hedgetrimmer is meant to be the more classic of their offerings (let’s play word association: Juniper, Pine, Green, Hedge?) and is distilled with neutral grain and nine botanicals, including one oddball: Washington State Cannonball Watermelon Rind.

Tasting Notes

The nose has hibiscus, and green juniper in the high notes, though a more complex side emerges as the spirit has a second to aerate: lemon, ethanol and grains of paradise notes mix, but then fading to a more blank alcohol note on the finish.

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Gin Reviews

Bulfinch 83 Gin

bullfinch gin bottle

Oh that hotbed of American distilling that is the American Northwest. Every time I look up from my cocktail, there’s a new one!

Wishkah River Distillery, named for the river of the same name just outside Aberdeen, probably rings a bell with Nirvana fans who remember the live album From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah. Heck, I’m not even a big Nirvana fan and that reference popped into my head. But two things about the name: Wishkah is Chehalis for “stinking water,” and this gin is neither muddy, nor stinking. So put what you know about the word behind you and let’s just focus on the gin. Because it’s quite good.

Background Details

Bulfinch gin is a gin in the “craft gin” tradition. The base spirit is their very own neutral grain spirit, distilled from Washington grains. Reminder that in Washington “Craft” is actually codified in law, meaning that more than 50% of the raw materials must have been grown in the state. So craft? Sure seems it. Let’s get down to the tasting.

Tasting Notes

The nose is bright, orange and lemon, citrus as well as juniper. A tinge of alcohol, but generally mild and very much in the spirit of gin.

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Gin Reviews

Sounds Spirits Old Tom Gin

sound spirits old tom

Can you tell by the bottle how long this bottle of gin has been hanging around in my bar? Sometimes a review kind of ends up on the back burner. I at one point wanted to do a series on Old Tom Gins, and look at several in a row: kind of establish a pattern for how you should review an Old Tom Gin and what you should look for. I was going to taste several side by side….

….and eventually intentions get the best of me. I come up with a plan and as I take on several other gin projects, the Old Tom thing never got off the ground. And all the while, while I was not reviewing Old Tom styled gins, I sure was drinking them. So rather than wait for some amazing feature which might be a long time off, I thought I better get this review off before I drink the whole damn bottle right and nary write more than three words about it: “I like this.”

The Nose and the Palate of the Sound

The nose is citrusy and sharp, with a slight brightness and lemony touch.

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Gin Reviews

Halcyon Organic Distilled Gin

halcyon-organic-gin

From that distilling hotbed that is the Pacific Northwest, we have another new entry. This one is from Bluewater Distilling in Everett comes with a sustainability focus. A portion of profits go to an environmental organization; the gin itself proudly declares it “organic.” It also performed well at the Seattle Gin Society’s annual Ginvitational. Halcyon won best Washington gin.

Followers of gin and gin awards in particular should know by now that there’s certain predilections among certain awards. Last year the Seattle Gin Society trended towards preferring classic style gins. Martin Miller’s, a personal favorite of this blog won “best gin,” and the best Northwest Gin was the also excellent and classic leaning Big Gin. As the winner of best Washington Gin this year, would it be a classical styled gin? Yes. Let’s get on to the tasting.

Tasting Notes Bright with juniper, fresh lemon and a hint of cinnamon spice on the nose. Smells smooth, very nice, very gin-like. The taste echoes the nose beautifully. Deceptively smooth for a 92 proof gin. A little earthy and warm first, juniper builds quickly with citrus sweetness hovering just around the edges, never quite overpowering the juniper forward approach.

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Gin Reviews

Dry Fly Gin

dryfly_03

Up north to Washington we go, to the Pacific Northwest. If you haven’t heard, it’s quite a hot bed for distilling. Enter Dry Fly, from Spokane Washington. Their gin is made from all local ingredients, all the way up from the base through the botanicals.

GINISIN POP QUIZ: Given what I just told you. Dry Fly Gin is made from all Washington Botanicals AND it’s from Washington, what quintessential Washingtonian export might you expect to find in Dry Fly Gin?

…..

I’ll give you a hint. Last year the state had one of the largest crops in history and it made the national news when it was revealed that up to 1/4 of the crop might be left on trees from lack of people to pick the fruits.

Did you guess?

Without looking at the link?

Well, the answer is apples. And you’d be correct if you suspected there might be some Apple in here. (In addition to mint, lavender, and hops.) Oh yeah, juniper and the usual suspects too. Intrigued? I know I am. Let’s get down to some drinking, shall we?

Nose/Taste Wow, a tad malty on the nose with a distinct scent of stewed heavily spice apples.

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Gin Reviews

Big Gin

big-gin

On the eve of the 50 States of Gin tasting, fellow writer David [of Summer Fruit Cup] and I made one final stop at the package depot to pick up the last few gins that had come in time for our tasting. We walked that mile home carrying a few gins we bought at the store, all of our Navy Strength and Barrel-Aged Gins that we had schlepped to Brooklyn, and a last few boxes. One of these last arrivals was Captive Spirits’ Big Gin.

Although none of us had tried Big Gin before the tasting, and although it was in one of  the final heats [due to us tasting in order of the States’s admittance to the union, Washington joining the states in November of 1889] Big Gin managed to wow us and win a very competitive heat, despite our weary gin tested taste buds.

So how did it manage to win us over? Simply put, Big Gin was as one reviewed noted “big.”

The Tasting Immediately, one noticed that the nose of Big Gin is strong and assertive. You can catch the sweet aroma of juniper as you pour the gin.  

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