Keith and Constance Bodine form the team behind Sweetgrass Winery and Distillery’s Back River Gin. They make a wide array of wines and spirits sourcing as much as possible from their local Maine farms. One of the key ingredients in Back River Gin is Maine-grown blueberries.
The nose of Back River Gin doesn’t immediately lead with blueberry like other berry-botanical gins like Brockman’s. It’s a much more subtle and complete nose rooted in gin tradition.
A hint of cranberry, cassia, and wet pine-forest-in-winter juniper greet you on the nose. Back River Gin has prominent, but not aggressive juniper at the front of the nose. To put it another way, you’ll recognize it as gin but you won’t call it a Gordon’s clone.
The palate is much bigger than the nose. Subtle coriander and aniseed notes come on early, but mid-palate is a roar of cassia and ginger. The cassia almost becomes full-throttle cinnamon suggesting cinnamon candies.
After the cinnamon begins to recede, a fruity floral notes starts to come out of the background. I get blackberries and literal honest-to-god-blueberries here. There’s just enough pine accent juniper behind all of this to give Back River Gin a depth of flavor that goes beyond the signature botanicals.
The finish is moderate in length with a clean and durable warmth.
Back River Gin is a versatile mixer. Bartenders can easily use Back River Gin as a pour behind the bar and put in a number of cocktails. This is what impressed me about this gin the first time I tried it— and the second, and the third….
The cinnamon comes through in a Gin and Tonic, but if you like that note it’s delicious and somewhat more muted than it was in the gin on its own. I love it in a Martini. Olives and onions go wonderfully with it, suggesting both a Dirty Martini, a Very Dirty Martini, or a Gibson.
Overall, Back River Gin
Back River Gin is the rare gin that is exciting, versatile behind the bar, and worth seeking out.
Fans of classic style gins may find it a bit light in the juniper. But fans of contemporary spice forward gins will find quite a bit to like about Back River Gin’s craft. It’s well made, with a unique balance, and a unique flavor profile that even half a decade later has rarely been equaled in the Gin Renaissance.