One of the process trends from the world of gin has been more and more distillers experimenting with low temperature distillation methods. Many common gin botanicals have aromatics present at room temperature which are destroyed by heat, and therefore are destroyed during conventional distillation. These aromatics are rarely part of gin and are therefore rarely part of consumer expectation.
But therein lies the rub of vacuum distillation. Some botanicals take on their gin-like character because of the heat of distillation. While other botanicals struggle with it.
This is what is so bold about what the team at Durham Distillery are doing with their line of gins, including Conniption American Dry Gin. They do some of their botanicals the traditional way in the still. These include classic gin ingredients like angelica, cardamom, caraway, coriander and juniper. But they do some of their fresh and more delicate ingredients in a low temperature vacuum pressure environment. Among these are cucumber, fig, honeysuckle and their citrus.
These two distillates are blended together, aiming for the best of both worlds. Can you truly have you cake and eat it too? Well, we’re going to drink it first.
Definitely cucumber on the nose, with a cool, fresh vegetal aroma that jumps out and is immediately recognizable. Spice, citrus, juniper and rye bread tinged caraway notes are present as well. Complex underneath the hood, but you’re going to have to look past the cucumber to get the rest.
On the palate though, Conniption American Dry Gin is much more than a cucumber bomb. Let’s dissect this one. Spice at first, juniper with some creamy/floral notes, perhaps the honeysuckle and fig, though I’m getting more intimations of custard… but don’t linger on it, because the note certainly doesn’t. Rushing to the fore next are clear peaks of cardamom, then caraway… angelica colors the background a bit but candied orange and coriander come on late. The citrus zest turns a little sharper, with bitter orange zest notes lingering on the edges of your mouth towards the finish with the finish being quite long and generally dominated by the botanicals; the cucumber rears its head again here.
Overall Conniption American Dry Gin is quite nice. Powerfully aromatic, the botanicals are non-traditional but all dialed up really loud. This makes it a bold mixing gin, even at the 44% ABV. The aromatics stand up to both mixed drinks and cocktail-craft, though for where my money’s at, the Gin and Tonic is top notch with a freshness and botanical bouquet that’s unique to this gin. The Martini is perhaps a bit too loud with the Vermouth and Gin clashing at points. If you’re looking for something a bit unusual try it in something like a Gin and Juice (grapefruit perhaps?), a Bronx Cocktail or a Bees Knees. It’s loud and your choice of cocktail likely depends on your feelings about this on its own.
All that being said, I quite like Conniption American Dry Gin. It has a unique perspective that sets it apart from other gins, and the concept is well executed in that it highlights some of the best part of each of the botanicals. I recommend checking it out, and sadly, like many American gins it’s only available in NC. Check it out next time you pass through, and hopefully they get some distribution outside the state soon.