From South Carolina’s Dark Corner Distillery, Jōcassee Gin pioneers a new regional style toponym. Dubbed “American Southern Style” for its regional botanical bill, Jōcassee Gin includes magnolia blossoms.
Magnolias are incredible important in the Southern United States. It’s the state flower of two states (Louisiana and Mississippi), and the official nickname of the latter. The flower blossoms are a traditional ingredient in Chinese medicine. Their smell is heady and thick, with some suggesting it smells like a combination of cherry blossom, lemon flesh, vanilla bean, citronella, and lily of the valley. Others have said it smells like no other flower; however, when in blossom you will notice their smell is unmistakable.
Lake Jocassee by the way is reservoir in South Carolina created by the building of a dam by the same name in 1973. It’s also a popular fishing spot.
The nose has some green floral notes at the top. Jōcassee Gin leads with a bit of honeysuckle and gardenia, i.e. fresh white flower, and then some citrus, lemon zest and bitter orange notes. There’s a hint of angelica on the nose as well, which may be either angelica or juniper.
The palate of Jōcassee Gin certainly has more juniper than it might have seemed from just the first nose. Coriander and suggestion of sweet spice meld with a strong citrus backed mid-palate. Grapefruit comes through most clearly here. White grapefruit and then a bit of grapefruit rind and pine-forward juniper. The juniper and citrus zest continues into the finish which has a bit of ripe floral undertone.
First off, I think Jōcassee Gin makes a refreshing Gin and Tonic, though I find that the floral notes are absolutely kicked up with just a bit of tonic. I was amazed at how much more honeysuckle and magnolia seemed to come out, and yet the finish still had a nice dash of juniper and bitterness.
Jōcassee Gin makes a complex Martini with way more of that rich aromatic herbal and floral notes. It combines nicely with Vermouth, and the flavors shine through even at the bold 2:1 ratio.
I found it was a little overshadowed in the Negroni, but that was really the only one. I think it’s really interesting how floral, citrus, and juniper notes seem to come through in a lot of cocktail and mixed drink applications.
It certainly fits the bill as a versatile day-at-the-lake gin for fans of contemporary style gins.
Jōcassee Gin carves out a unique niche in the world of gins. While I may be skeptical of a regional attribution (American South gins vary so much as to defy categorization), Jōcassee Gin opts for a different approach on a floral-forward contemporary style gin. Its heady, richly aromatic, and thick. It’s more a sexy perfume than a pleasant scented soap*.
The palate is clean, but it’s complex. Fans of contemporary style gins will find a lot to love about this new offering from Dark Corner Distillery; whereas fans of classic gins may be wishing there was a touch more juniper. It’s also the rare gin at a proof point this low that stands up in cocktails. Bartenders may find it a versatile contemporary style gin that adds a unique touch to classic cocktails and mixed drinks.
I like the balance and love the perspective. If there was a Southern Style Gin and this was it, I could see it. Recommended in its category.
*Does that make sense? Let me clarify. While some gins come across as a lavender scented powder or very literal in a single floral aroma, this one really has more in common with a perfume. There’s a complex accord with interesting, evolving floral notes. I imagine that this might have an incredible dry out note, you know, if you were to put it on your skin.
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