Maine Craft Distilling’s story began when distiller Luke Davidson sought to combine his pastoral upbringing with a passion for whiskey. Many of Maine Craft Distilling’s spirits embody the all local tradition. I mean, even their Whiskey has local seaweed for that added terroir effect.
As for Alchemy Dry Gin, it’s designed to conjure a vision of Maine’s boreal expanses. Many of the botanicals are grown from Luke’s farm and added in a third run through a pot still. The base spirit is also local, distilled from Maine barley.
The nose is delicately spicy with a touch of malt. You get that hint of grainy, slightly-hay kissed scent that you often get in genever and genever-style gins. The nose has hints of ginger, Douglas Fir, licorice and anise cookies.
The palate is absolutely rich, with a chewy texture to it. Anise, licorice and ginger notes early, then juniper and Douglas Fir notes come through mid-palate. The back of the palate reverts back to a rich blend of malty grain and licorice, with just a touch of citrus.
The finish is exceptionally long. The anise note sticks around, gently camphorous with a thick Anethole note on the back edges of the throat. The flavor, when sipped neat, can stretch for almost a minute. It has an incredible tenacity without ever being overwhelming.
The spirit has a nice texture as well.
Alchemy Dry Gin does a great job with a difficult base spirit. Many Barley base spirits can overpower the botanicals, or taste slightly muddy with mushroom and other earthy notes. This gin retains some of the warm grain-like character, but ultimately allows the botanical blend to shine. It’s certainly more genever-style than your average off-the-shelf gin.
I find that genever like gins can be a bit challenging in cocktails, simply because some of the earthy, grain base notes can conflict with some our expectations for the cocktails. In tasting this gin, the grain flavor reminds me of a 1930s sample of Plymouth Gin which I had last year. It was unexpectedly more malty than modern Plymouth is, and yet still the botanicals shone. Perhaps I’m saying, that Alchemy Dry Gin might be better thought of as a throwback gin by bartenders.
I would skip the Gin and Tonic, and go for the Negroni instead. I thought it made a really intriguing Tom Collins, with the anise and lemon notes coming together in a really lovely way.
For fans of genever and gins which wear their base spirit on their sleeve, Alchemy Dry Gin is a well made spirit that showcases all the best elements of the style. I love the warmth of the base and the bright notes from the botanicals.
Some people might find it a bit too light with the juniper. Bartenders mixing it as one might a Beefeater or Gordon’s might find it a bit unusual; however, anyone looking for an intriguing sipping gin, Alchemy Dry Gin may be the right call for you.
Special thanks to John at Foodie Pilgrim. Since 2012, John has shared and sourced gins from New England and nearby that we at The Gin is In haven’t tried yet. This gin sample was shared by John, who is also a big fan of gin. So check out his New England Gin Reviews as well when you have a chance.