Articles Tagged: Washington

Tonic Water

Bradley’s Kina Tonic


Occasionally, it takes me a while to get around to getting a review up. I’ve had this wonderful bottle of tonic syrup chronicled in my notes for some time. I unexpectedly received another bottle very recently which prompted me to look in my notes and realize [to my chagrin] that I have not written about this fantastic syrup here.

The story:

Bradley’s Kina Tonic is small batch, made by hand, and hails from Seattle [Hi Seattle!]. It’s alike many other tonic syrups in terms of appearance and aroma; however, you won’t quite know exactly how it differs until you open it up. That’s right, the “spices” labeled on the back are not listed. They’re a secret. You’ll just have to taste for yourselves.

Tasting Notes

The color is a light cocoa, with this hint of rusty maroon, giving it an almost ciderish appearance. The liquid is thick and somewhat viscous; however, not unctuous I’d place it somewhere in the middle, and perhaps slightly less rich and syrupy than other tonic syrups.

The nose is lemongrass, orange, and nutmeg. It smells a bit rich and earthy, with some background notes that read as somewhat sweet; however, it is the spice and citrus which carries through most strongly.

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Gin Reviews

Counter Gin


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

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

Halcyon Organic Distilled 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


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


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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50 States of Gin: The Winners of Each Round

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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