Whenever I hear something like “it’s not possible to do something!” [particularly in the kitchen], it sounds to me like a challenge.
With carbonated liqueurs making appearances now in liquor stores, the most logical next step in my opinion is carbonated spirits. The logic in this is clear: it seems that more serious cocktail craft is here to stay. And with that, more folks drinking “neat” or heady drinks made mostly of alcohol with a single block of ice in it. Cocktail craft is about emphasis of the spirits and high quality ingredients. Diluting your spirit with extra ice, water, or worse soda water is something best left to dive bars and amateur night. Carbonating spirits seems the perfect way to get that burst of fizz that makes effervescent drinks such a pleasure to enjoy without shifting attention away from the alcohol. You see where I’m going with this?
I recently got two refills for my soda stream carbonator. So it was time to go to work.
On Process and some misunderstandings
First and foremost, yes it is possible to carbonate spirits but “The solubility of CO2 in all of the alcohol…decreases as temperature increases and pressure decreases”* There is less surface tension in alcohol than in water, so the higher the proof of your spirit, the quicker the carbonation will dissipate; therefore there are a couple of key things to consider when making a carbonate spirit.
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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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Bristow Gin is the baby of Mississippi’s Cathead Distillery. They’re best known for their eponymous Vodka and their signature Honeysuckle Vodka. Mississippi as a state is a mystery to me, and I seem to have made a habit of reviewing gins from the few states that I have never visited [as of right now? well there’s only Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Alaska and Hawaii, but who’s counting, right?] so unfortunately when trying to picture Mississippi I’m left with a few basic impressions. For example, I picture everyone sipping this gin to be sitting around playing some Blues or some early Americana style music. Maybe a jug band, jamming on a humid afternoon, sipping tall gin and tonics. I’m not sure if this is my fantasy about what I think Mississippi is like, or this is my fantasy about wishing that I was playing 1920’s folk music out on the Bayou. Now on to the gin.
The nose is quiet and inviting. Warm and soft juniper predominates with a slight alcohol burn when you inhale deeply. At 47%, its perhaps in line with many other craft gins and a bit stronger than most imports.
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