Lakeward Spirits partners with local WNY Maltsters and sources local barley among the grain blend for their Grain Canyon Vodka and their Evergreen Gin. All of their spirits are distilled on premise— they’re grain to glass— and byproducts and waste are sustainably disposed of*.
Otherwise, there’s not much available on the official botanical blend. Though they do paint an evocative image in their marketing materials:
“The wakening forest during spring thaw is irresistible. Cool, clean snow drips of needled boughs, forms rivulets, cascades into creeks…”
The nose is immediately suggestive of a genever or Holland-style gin. Lots of grain and barley notes evident at first whiff. Along with that, Evergreen Gin has slight hints of anise and licorice along with a bit of citrus. It’s decidedly grain-forward in character to be sure.
Evergreen Gin on the palate begins with notes of hay and grass, with a bit of maltiness. Pine-accented juniper, especially with a Douglas Fir like note mid-palate. Juniper does come through nicely on Evergreen Gin. Towards the finish, the emphasis is on some of anise-like spice notes; however, there’s certainly more going on in here, though it is muddled by the powerful flavor of the base spirit. I get some bitter orange zest and a bit more baking spice.
The finish of Evergreen Gin is medium long with hints of pine needle and grass.
Lakeward Spirits has indeed put New York State grain up front and center. The base spirit has an immense amount of character and truly accentuates the modern Holland style.
I find with gins that go big with the malt and grain, they can present themselves in a bit of an unexpected way when mixed. For example, I prefer Evergreen Gin with a Tonic Syrup as opposed to a tonic water. A bold, spice-forward tonic syrup such as Strong Tonic pairs beautifully.
Otherwise, I suggest sticking to cocktails designed for bold flavors. Try Evergreen Gin in a Negroni or the Hemmingway favorite Death in the Gulf Stream. I’d advise staying clear of overly floral drinks like the Aviation or dessert cocktails like the Alexander— these just don’t pair as well with what Lakeward Spirits is trying to do with their grain-forward gin.
I recommend Evergreen Gin to fans of Genever. While not truly a Genever, it’s in the spirit of— or the style of— but interpreted through an American lens. If you like the flavor of grain in your base spirits, you’re going to like what Evergreen Gin has to offer.
Others, and especially bartenders may find Evergreen Gin a bit challenging as it doesn’t come across unexpectedly in some of the old gin cocktail standbys.
*Ahh, to be a hog given spent mash from a gin distillation.