Ben Capdevielle is a third generation distiller who named Big Gin after his father’s nickname. “Big Jim” has since become “Big Gin” and the family legacy was cemented.
But that BIG carries two meanings when it comes to Big Gin. The second is the big emphasis on juniper. When Big Gin first launched it was a surprise to find an American gin emphasizing juniper as prominently. While others are doing it well like Chapter One, Halcyon Gin and others— Big Gin still stands as a testament to American gin distilling.
Big Gin begins in 100 gallon Vendome pot stills and features nine botanicals ranging from the everyday orange to the unusual like Tasmanian pepperberry.
While it certainly aspires to be big— especially on the juniper— I’ve always found Big Gin to have a nice balance to its classic profile. For example the nose is bright and clearly classic with bold juniper, there’s still hints of black pepper, cubeb spice and bitter orange rind. The juniper note sits squarely in the pine category. Overall, it’s a balanced nose that definitely veers towards the classic end of things.
The palate is where the spirit’s signature smoothness comes through. It’s creamy with pine and lemon at first before that note of vanilla pod comes in. This might be one of the most beautiful moments in gin— period.
Big Gin then brings out the indulgent richness of angelica root with plenty of peppery nuance. There’s moments where you find grains of paradise, moments where it’s black peppercorn and moments where it’s szechuan peppercorn. It all ends with this beautiful hint of pink peppercorn. All the while, you’ll never doubt that Big Gin is classic and juniper forward.
Overall, Big Gin is one of my favorite Martini gins. I prefer it served in a 7:2 ratio, up with a twist. But this gin works well in a Dirty Martini or Gibson.
The beauty of what Captive Spirits has done here is that a bartender could easily reach for this bottle in lieu of any other bottle and it will work well. Try it in a Gin and Jam, an Aviation, or a Tom Collins.
Behind the bar is where Ben’s substantial experience as a bartender is evident. A bartender could easily make Big Gin their house pour and it would work in any cocktail you throw at it.
Overall, Big Gin
It’s beautiful and perfectly balanced. But still unlike any other gin out there.
Fans of classic gin will find a lot to like about this American-distilled take on the classic London Dry formula. Contemporary gin fans will equally find a lot to like in the balance and nuance. Though juniper is the star, it doesn’t shine alone.
This is still one of my favorite gins and one that I turn to time and time again.
For more on Captive Spirits, I interviewed Ben in my 2015 book Gin: The Art and Craft of the Artisan Revival, now available from Amazon.