The Fly Creek Cider Mill in Fly Creek, New York is quite the tourist attraction. Families with kids can stop by and see how cider is made, feed ducks, or shop at quite the extravagant market (complete with Ikea style winding pathway, ensuring you see everything, naturally). While visiting Copperstown, some friends and I stopped by to feed ducks and taste ciders. But what I didn’t expect to find was 1856 Gin available for sale in the shop.
Rather steeply priced at $30 for only a 375mL bottle, I was still intrigued. The bottle says “distilled from apples” which you might expect from a cidery. The top is a peculiar wax sealed metal twist off (which is worth noting because it makes it difficult to open, and easy to mangle while cutting the wax). Other than that, it’s hard to even find exactly who distilled the gin. So while there’s little information other than base spirit available, we can still taste it (fortunately).
Slight hints of dark pear, medicinal, camphoraceous spruce, eucaplyptus and mint notes as well as a dark hint of lavender. Darker juniper notes on the nose, with ripe fruit and floral notes. A darker nose, but one that hits the marks and certainly smells of gin.
The palate similarly strikes again with some of these darker, balsamic notes that’s even slightly phenolic. Notes of stewed apple and pear, mint and then some spice on the finish: coriander, lavender. Finish is quite long, but a little funky with the base spirit imparting some dark color to the finish.
I found some of the off notes to clash in brighter drinks like the Gin and Tonic, Gin and Soda and even the Tom Collins. I found it to be acceptable in a Gimlet, especially at parity. I also found it to be passable in more complex mixed drinks like the Aviation; however, it really takes a loud drink like the Negroni to cover up some of its shortcomings.
I want to like it, but 1856 Gin struggles in terms of both balance and flavor profile. While the choice of Apple base spirit and menthol tinged botanicals can work well and successfully; however, in this case it’s a bit too dark and muddled.
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