I’ve lived the quintessential East Coast dream on at least a couple of occasions. To point a car West and to to head towards the other coast, stopping at all of the incredible go-between and pass-throughs along America’s state highways, and religiously avoiding the interstate when at all possible. For me, Galena, Illinois holds a unique place for me. Along US 20, it’s the gateway in my mind, that breaking point between the dense urbanity and never-too-far-from civilization feel of the East/Great Lakes and the wide-open expanses of the middle. It’s the beginning of the “everything else.” So each time I’ve driven west, I’ve stopped in Galena’s historic downtown, walked along the Galena river, and Paused.
Galena is home to Blaum Brothers Distilling Company. Located right along the aforementioned US 20, two brothers have been designing spirits from the ground up since 2013. The grains are sourced locally, distilled on their handmade copper still. They have an as-yet-released Rye and Bourbon in the works, but as for now they have vodka, moonshine, and gin out on the market. The gin is based on a small number of botanicals, each distilled individually with their wheat/rye base spirit, before being blended to create the final product.
Spicy coriander on the nose, fennel along with a muted, slightly resinous juniper character. Crisp, with a heavy lean on the coriander, but not without nuance and color in the lower notes.
The palate is vividly coriander, but a nice, bright and wonderfully well-rounded expression of it. The dusty, citrusy spice, the rich almost floral/fruitiness of it. Piny juniper emerges in the middle notes, with linalool, violet, and orris on the finish, and a scintilla of sweet orange zest. Medium-short finish with quiet spice, fennel seed and juniper resin.
I’ve spoken with a few distillers in the UK who have remarked that “Americans sure love their coriander,” speaking in regard to the preponderance of coriander-heavy gins stateside. I don’t like to use the word “coriander bomb” because I think there’s a certain pejorative connotation. Blaum Bros Gin is heavy on coriander, certainly. But a gin is the sum of its parts, and although it leads with the note on both the nose and palate, the expression of the botanical is worth remarking upon. It reads as well rounded coriander, freshly ground with all of its essential oils intact. It doesn’t shine to the exclusion of the other notes, with them coloring in the spaces in between the lines and on the margins. It is certainly heavy on the coriander, but I think it’s one of the best expressions of that botanical in gin I’ve tasted.
Bottles at 90 Proof, I found Blaum Bros. Gin to be a great mixing gin, with its bright aromatic character coming through clearly in nearly any drink you make with it.
Next I tried it in a Negroni (w/ Dolin Vermouth). A touch of coriander on the nose, bitter orange, with some Vermouth darkness coming through clearly and crisply in the middle notes. Lively, robust finish where you can taste a little bit of each ingredient. Harmonious and nicely balanced. Recommended.
In the Tom Collins, coriander and lemon notes were up top, while the palate was absolutely bursting with the character of the gin. It might have been the first cocktail I made where I wasn’t wowed. It was good, but perhaps not as good as the gin does otherwise in drinks a bit heavier on the spice.
From 1917 Tom Bullock’s The Ideal Bartender, we recreated the Bliz’s Royal Rickey. This looked exceptionally promising with the raspberry syrup and lemon already a known good combination, added with Vermouth [we did a little bit of research. and although not specified here, it seems that it’s intended to be a Sweet Vermouth] topped with ginger ale.
Ginger, lemongrass, spiced notes with a certain restrained sharpness. Hints of juniper, with fresh, clean orange, a nice sweetness all around— certainly a sweet cocktail, but one that’s accessible and even allowed the gin to shine. This is a nice drink, and one that I could see winning some people over. A shame that this drink isn’t more widely known. I’d try this again, and I’d try it again with Blaum Bros. Gin.
Price: $35 / 750 mL
Distiller: Blaum Brothers Distilling Co.
Origin: Illinois, United States
Availability: Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin [check here].
Rating: Fans of coriander in their gin, look no further, this one is a winner. People who like classic style gin will find familiar flavors, reshuffled and presented in a unique expression that owes plenty to tradition. Fans of contemporary style, and especially contemporary spice-forward gins will find a great cocktail gin that’s sooth enough to be sipped as it is. Blaum Bros. Gin is bright aromatic, and nicely balanced expression of what all contemporary gins aspire to be. Highly recommended. [Rating:4.5/5]
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