Jonathan Benson distilled his Juniper Jack (amongst other spirits) out of 1860s Victorian Mansion. He grew up on a vineyard and became fascinated by fermentation. That fascination led to his operation— Mass Appealed Distillery— where he made beer, wines and of course spirits.
Juniper Jack features a base distilled from apples with a couple of exotic botanicals— Asian inspired lemongrass and South American inspired Pink Peppercorn.
For more on his story, the New Hampshire Gazette covered Benson’s operation in detail back in 2015.
TL;DR: Loud with ginger and cloves. A very spice forward gin
The nose of Juniper Jack is a touch fruit-forward. Hints of apple spice, orange zest give it a baked apple pie nose, that’s evocative of McKenzie’s hard winter cider.
The palate is really loud. Heavy notes of coriander and ginger evolve into a finish of lemongrass and heavy— very heavy— notes of cloves.
The clove finish of Juniper Jack hovers on the palate for an exceptional amount of time.
Juniper is a tertiary note if that.
The texture overall feels quite thin. Juniper Jack doesn’t have much hold on the palate or viscosity. In fact, it just seems a bit watery.
Juniper Jack remains a potent mixer despite it’s 40% ABV and thin mouthfeel. It makes for a very accessible Martini. You’ll fine that the spice goes surprisingly well with olives as well. The dry vermouth cuts down on some of the the heaviness and helps balance it out. Especially in an Equal parts Martini or what some refer to as a Reverse Martini with more vermouth than gin. This is not an ideal candidate for the Churchill Martini.
Other cocktails were more of a mixed bag. For a spiced Gin and Tonic it was okay. The ginger and clove notes were still a bit too overpowering.
Bartenders are best suited to treat Juniper Jack as a specialty spirit— perhaps best suited for holiday Hot Toddies.
Overall, Juniper Jack
While Juniper Jack manages to craft a bold and memorable persona, it does so at the expense of balance and even its namesake— juniper. I’m pretty liberal when it comes to gin and juniper. Even a little bit goes a long way. But the choice of the name is misleading. Fans of classic gin will find little juniper here.
But even as a contemporary style gin, Juniper Jack lacks balance. It has a thin mouthfeel and the clove note is a bit overbearing. Certainly it is memorable in a crowded space, but I can’t help but think what a few more iterations might have done for its balance and mixability.
Made possible through the New England Gin Exchange
Special thanks to John at Foodie Pilgrim. Since 2012, John has shared and sourced gins from New England and nearby that we at The Gin is In haven’t tried yet. This gin sample was shared by John, who is also a big fan of gin. So check out his New England Gin Reviews as well.