Congratulations to all the winners across all of the categories for the American Distilling Institute’s 7th annual judging of American craft spirits. Below you’ll find a list of the winners from the gin category with links to reviews where applicable.
It seems a fantastic list with a lot of great gins represented as well as a tribute to the vast amount of high quality gin that’s coming out across these United States. Hopefully in the coming months we’ll be able to fill in the gaps with reviews for all of the winners.
In the meantime, congrats again to the winners and hope you’re all enjoying some of this great gin. Cheers!
CLASSIC DISTILLED GIN
Best of Category: Rock Town Distillery – Brandon’s Gin (silver)
CLASSIC RECTIFIED GIN
Best of Category: Captive Spirits Distilling – Big Gin (gold)
Bull Run Distilling – Aria Portland Dry Gin (gold)
Veracity Spirits – Vivacity Native Gin (silver)
CONTEMPORARY DISTILLED GIN
Best of Category: Myer Farm Distillers – Myer Farm Gin (silver)
Dancing Pines Ditillery – Gin (silver)
Dancing Tree Distillery – Gin (silver)
Treaty Oak Distilling – Waterloo Gin (silver)
Corsair Artisan – Steampunk (bronze)
Maine Distilleries – Cold River Traditional Gin (bronze)
StilltheOne Distillery – Jarhead Gin (bronze)
CONTEMPORARY RECTIFIED GIN
Best of Category and Best in Show: Valentine Distilling Co.
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Naturally, when there’s 30+ gins to be tasted it cannot be done all at once. As much as we’d like to try, to do a proper tasting our livers and mental capacities just couldn’t take it. So in order to give every gin a proper tasting and a fair shot, we spread it out into 6 mini tastings over the course of a long day. So as promised, here’s a recap of what we tasted side by side and with what– and I’ll share with you my top two from each heat.
For full gin reviews of every gin covered in the 50 States of Gin tasting, you’ll have to stay tuned to the Gin is In this fall. If my first post was the 10 miles high overview, this is the one from 50,000 feet. The full reviews will be on the ground: up close and personal.
Heat #1 ///
The Participants: Dogfish Head Jin from Delaware [the nation’s first state, I’m sure you see where we’re going with this], Pennsylvania’s Bluecoat Gin, Southern Gin from Georgia, Gale Force Gin from Masscahussetts and finally, New Hampshire’s Karner Blue gin.
Overall a strong opening.
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Over the next few weeks [and perhaps even months] we’ll be rolling out a great deal of gin reviews and features from the FIFTY STATES OF GIN TASTING that happened this past weekend. David T. Smith of Summer Fruit Cup fame joined me, my friend Justin- a gin enthusiast and good friend from my college “gin discovery days” along with our respective wives and girlfriends for a two day celebration of all things American in gin.
But First, Some thank Yous
I’d like to thank Brad Estabrook of Breuckelen Distilling, Allen Katz of New York Distilling for inviting us into their distilleries and sharing their time with us. It was a wonderful experience, and each visit will get a full post quite soon. I’d also like to thank the great folks at Q Tonic for graciously providing us with Tonic Water for out tasting. We definitely agree that the best spirits deserve a superior tonic water, and even more so, we believe that the best American craft gin deserves a great American craft tonic. Finally, David and I would like to thank [although I don’t claim to speak for him here, he will certainly be posting on his own soon enough!] all of the owners, master distillers, brand ambassadors, managers, and fans of good gin who were so generous with their craft and sent us samples of their gin.
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Firstly, I apologize for the delay in this review. The fine folks at Rock Town Distillery were so kind as to send me a bottle of their gin. I had promised this review prior to Memorial Day, before some sudden family events. Better late than never, I suppose.
Brandon’s gin comes in a simple and elegant bottle, with the batch and bottling numbers clearly labeled on the top [This particular bottle is from Batch 11]. The botanicals are added via “vapor infusion,” which the distillers say “gives our gin an amazingly fresh aroma and a wonderful taste, without the juniper overpowering the other botanicals. [source]” Though the botanicals are not listed, Brandon’s Gin seems at first sniff/taste seems to be squarely in the “classic” style gin category. But at a closer look, you can see where it stands itself apart in the taste.
The nose of Brandon’s Gin is sweet and a hint spicy as well. There’s a distinct aroma of sweet juniper, but also a hint of warm spice that I can’t quite place. It seems a bit peppery, with a hint of herbal and a note that seems to reference ginger, but only ever so slightly.
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Here I am conducting important research. Brandon Thomas Parsons’ Bitters: A spirited history of the classic cure-all with cocktails, recipes and formulas was the source for this experiment.
Here is the collection of ingredients that we’re putting together for this Alaska Cocktail.
Bitter Truth’s Orange Bitters
Yellow Chartreuse (on sale! for a ridiculously low $27!)
And of course Brandon’s [quite excellent, review forthcoming] gin.
Its a rather herbaceous cocktail. The Chartreuse is not to be hidden easily, but I think the gin and the herbal notes compliment each other really nicely. I like the sweetness of The Bitter Truth’s Orange Bitters, but after mixing I felt that I should have used Fee Brothers’ Orange Bitters. They’re a little bit stronger in smaller doses.
Overall, this is a cocktail that I can really see myself spending more time with this summer. Its simple, easy to make, but complex and worth coming back to.
The Juneau Cocktail a.k.a. My variation on the Alaska Cocktail
5 parts a strong juniper forward gin
1 part Yellow Chartretuse
2 dashes of orange bitters [the orange bitters add a nice note here]
Stir with ice until ice cold, strain and serve.
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