Sipsmith Distiller Jared Brown experimented with smoking gins as early as 2012. With damp wood chips and a home-grown smoking apparatus, Jared began pushing the boundaries of what gin could be with this prototype of what would late become Sipsmith Bonfire Gin.
This early version of Bonfire Gin was sent to me by David T. Smith as part of a 2012 care package.
Striking to me immediately is how the nose does not seem incredibly smoky. There’s a faint hint of something woody on Bonfire Gin, but mostly a bright floral bouquet, revealing a gentle subtle juniper note. Cooked lemon and a hint of cardamom on the close. Quite nice.
The smoky campfire taste is readily present upon tasting Bonfire Gin. What hits me though is how “fresh” the smoke character seems to take on.
This flavor more vibrant, closer to Lapsang souchong tea. The palette has a little less of the floral from the nose and a little bit more citrus. The finish is long and faintly smoky, warm charred oak and carmelized orange rinds.
Well smoked gin. A novel idea, and in this case executed rather nicely. I found it really enjoyable neat over the course of writing this review.
Regrettably the sample size is small, so I cannot accurately say that I have made it in as many cocktails as I would have liked to. I’d suggest mixing up a Negroni or White Negroni and being cautious in mixed drinks with citruses and florals.
Sipsmith’s Bonfire Gin is more of a sipping gin anyway and best approached neat or on the rocks.
Overall, Bonfire Gin
Smoke and gin don’t seem like a natural mix, but Bonfire Gin is evidence that when starting with a good gin and judiciously working from there, the two flavors can mix well.
International Gin Exchange 2012
Thanks to David over at Summer Fruit Cup for helping make this tasting possible. Because the bottles are small sample bottles, this review is not as thorough as my normal gin reviews. There’s only enough for some tasting neat and no more than one normal-sized cocktail. Although I do my best to give as full of a review as possible, complete with ratings, the tasting is not as complete as I would normally want to do.