Previously on the Gin is In: We reviewed Smooth Ambler’s Greenbrier Gin. We were impressed with the mash base, its whiskey like notes complimented with a bold gin like profile. We found it delicious and notable.
Today on the Gin is In: We get the opportunity to try Smooth Ambler’s Barrel Aged Gin. Batch 1. Its an original edition. Volume 1, Edition 1. Aged 3 months in oak, will it live up to the expectations set by its predecessor? Will we be as impressed? Will the oak add anything.
Stay tuned, as we boldly venture forth to find out.
Opening the Bottle
Immediately on the nose I was struck by the warm notes of burnt sugar and caramel. In a cup though the gin like qualities open up a bit, revealing spruce and juniper, a mild sweetness and note of orange.
Tasting, it starts slow, building from a quiet beginning in an increasing build until the juniper and the oak almost hit you all at once on the back of the mouth almost a second after bringing it into your mouth. Tastes remarkably smooth for being 99 proof [49.5 %].
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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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West Virginia is a place that I mentally associate with whiskey. It may be that border with Kentucky. It may be the mountains and the inseparable notions of Appalachia and barrel-aged spirits. It may also be a reality: there’s more distillers making Whiskey in West Virginia making bourbon and whiskey (Smooth Ambler included) than there are those making gin.
But nevermind the stereotypes and ignore the preconceived notions. Although Greenbrier gin comes from the heart of moonshine country, it stands on its own while retaining a little bit of those bourbon roots.
Getting down to the Base
Where are these bourbon roots? Right in the base. Greenbrier Gin’s base is Smooth Ambler Spirits’ Whitewater Vodka, which unlike many others is not 100% wheat. Its closer to what you may find in a bourbon. Mostly corn, with some wheat and barley. I haven’t had the vodka, so its a bit hard to say how much of the flavor of the base is coming through here, but I suppose it would suffice to say that the difference in base is one of the things that sets this gin apart.
Immediately, the nose is strikingly different from most gins.
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