The scene: downtown Charleston, South Carolina.
The stage: the dark pre-2013 world where craft distilling still hadn’t found it’s way to the cocktail loving people of Charleston. The Tavern, the nation’s oldest liquor store had nothing of its own-city to call its own.
This was all set to change when Ann Marshall and Scott Blackwell opened up High Wire Distilling Co. As co-master distillers and owners, they are bringing craft distilling back to Charleston. They have many spirits in the works and planned, including rum and vodka- but the subject of our discussions today is their Botanical Gin.
The bottle calls to mind turn-of-the-20th-century culture, with the distinctive art on the bottle.
The nose is bright, juniper, orange peel, and fresh lemon. A bit sweet, slight jam notes as well faintly on the finish, with a touch of alcohol. A bit contemporary.
The palate is rich and full bodied. Dry touch of juniper at first, then creamy vanilla and lemon, earthy mid notes, spearmint leads off the finish, bright and strong. A hint of that floral/jam note, intimates hibiscus and fresh fruit, but not quite altogether distinct. Lingering orange rind, angelica, and rosemary- long and smooth.
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I was six when the Buffalo Zoo announced that through an arrangement with the Cincinnati Zoo, Buffalo would soon be home to a cross-eyed white tiger who was mother to almost one fifth of the world’s known population of white tigers. Sumita arrived in Buffalo in June 1989 and was something of a celebrity. Or at least so it seemed to a six-year-old me who lived within walking distance of the zoo. I remember the excitement of my mother [who at this point, I had only seen her as enthusiastic at this when the zoo brought in a Koala the summer prior] as we went to the bustling zoo, to sneak between the crowds and catch a glimpse of the mutant Bengal Tiger [technical term, continuing…]
Sumita passed away in Buffalo in the summer of 1990 and was quickly replaced by a male named Mota later that year. I can recall my younger sister and I each having a stuffed tiger. Hers was the white one and was named Sumita; mine was a traditional orange and black tiger, but owing to the attractive power of the spectacle that was the white tiger in the zoo that summer, I named mine Mota.
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Again, the cocktail show hit the road for the weekend. My friend happened to pick up a new Tonic Syrup that I had not yet had the pleasure of tasting.
There’s a great story about who Jack Rudy was. I won’t ruin it for you, but suffice to say that you can’t help but smile a bit while reading it. Probably not the character behind the syrup that I might have expected, but the syrup really does stand on its own.
Interestingly enough, I found it to be a stark contrast from some of the other tonic syrups I had. The flavor is mild, more herbal. There isn’t that strong bitter note on the palette that other tonic syrups might have. There was a warm lemongrass and citrus flavor that reminded me a little bit of the notes in Fentiman’s Tonic Water. What is rather unique, especially among tonic syrups, is that Jack Rudy’s syrup has a layer of sweetness. I felt that it was a bit out of place when sipping the syrup straight (as I do, I take my tasting it quite seriously). I wanted a little bit more of the emphasis on the quinine and a little bit more bitterness.
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