Watershed Gin

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Catoctin Creek’s waters drain to the Chesapeake Bay. That means that Watershed Gin is made at Catoctin Creek Distillery in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The gin’s base is distilled from organic rye and although the botanical blend is kept a secret, Watershed Gin’s 50% ABV gives those botanicals an assertive and bold presence.

Tasting Notes

The nose of Watershed Gin is a tad strawlike, notes or caraway and pepper, but with a hint of something a bit jam-like in there, giving off hints of hibiscus and blueberry. Very subtly floral, but predominantly grainy. It doesn’t quite have a white whiskey nose, but you can tell you might be in the neighborhood.

Juniper and a hint of cassia up front, that faintly floral sweetness appears again. Then you get some coriander, you get a bit of earthy musk, rich and dark. There’s a citrus character in the middle, little bit of lemon and it ends with a rich woody finish. Carraway and anise in the finish with a black pepper sort of sharpness. Long faintly spicy finish.

Quite nice, robust and while contemporary in flavor, the overall feel of the spirit feels more traditional. The sharpness of juniper in a London Dry is mimicked by pepper, carraway, juniper and a bit of alcohol burn. It reminds me of the mouth feel of a traditional style gin while not quite tasting like one. The combination of the woody Rye and that faint floral character make the exact impression of Watershed Gin kind of hard to place. There’s a lot going on, and its quite interesting, slowly unraveling and revealing itself when tasted neat. Its a very interesting, almost cerebral gin.


I’m a big fan of gins which I’ve called in some posts, “overproof” at 47.5% or higher ABV. Coming in at 50%, its not quite Navy Strength, but it does hold its own without being absolutely overpowering.

I found that it worked well in cocktails, being very agreeable in terms of mixing. While I liked the way it worked in a gin and tonic, I thought some of its best work was in strong cocktails. The Negroni, the Argentine Cocktail and other drinks with Campari, Amari and other vivid ingredients really were kept in check with the bold flavors of Watershed gin. It is a top notch drink for mixing in cocktails.

Overall, Watershed Gin

Overall, I think its quite an excellent gin. The Rye base is intriguing and helps add some depth to the flavor.

Classic style gin aficionados might find it strays a bit too far from the classic London Dry profile, while fans of modern gin might find that it doesn’t go far enough. Its also not quite Rye enough to be a gin drinker to appeal to the most ardent whiskey lover. Its really its own thing, and while its quite good and worth seeking out for what it does well, I’m not quite sure who [other than adventurous fans of craft gin] to recommend it to. Its good, but its rather hard to generalize it any further than that.

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2 thoughts on “Watershed Gin”

  1. Seriously? As a descendant of original Virginians, I think this website’s description is beyond understandable. I paid a middle-high price at the ABC for a southern product. Yuck. It tastes like it was cold-filtered through Rob Grontkowki’s gym bag. Seriously, there is a nose and aftertaste of funky feet to this stuff. How could you get more Yankee than that? Try again next year, team. As a Virginian I’ll risk another bottle just for the pride of the Commonwealth.

  2. I’ll try any gin–especially if it’s made here in Virginia (where I live). I worked my way through one bottle, and then somebody gave me a second, because they thought I liked the stuff.

    To me, it’s rather un-gin-like (and has too much in common with the white whiskey they also make). I find an earthy quality to it that makes me think it would go well with stuffed-mushroom hors d’oeuvres, or a mushroom-infused Brie. It’s my favorite gin for a Negroni! But apart from that, Catoctin’s earthiness (and dare I say, almost an “industrial” taste) makes it less satisfactory in other classic lemon/lime-based gin cocktails. (It blunts the brightness in a Last Word, or a Bee’s Knees, for example.)

    I’m hoping no one gifts me with another bottle….