Places that fostered a robust brewing culture tended to be among the first to foster a robust distilling culture. Thus, it should be no surprise that many of the early movers in the craft spirit place were established already in brewing. Rogue made their Spruce Gin; Dog Fish Head has released a number of gins over the years. Founded in 1997, the New Holland Brewing Company moved into spirits and launched their spirits line and Knickerbocker Gin in 2005.
New Holland Artisan Spirits makes four gins, but Knickerbocker Gin is their flagship. It’s a neutral grain base spirit with twelve botanical, bottled 42.5% ABV.
Knickerbocker sings early with a lemony, juniper-forward nose. It has some classic character for sure.
The overall impression is a bit boreal in terms of the juniper. Subtle clean pine needles, a hint of cedar among a glow set ablaze with a delicate touch of ginger. The lemon on the nose is a bit pledge-like. It’s visceral with an almost pure limonene affect.
The palate of Knickerbocker Gin reads a bit more spice forward, especially on the finish where several notes vividly express themselves.
Early juniper and fresh lemon zest. Mid-palate juniper adds a clean piney note but the attention is immediately drawn to those spices— fennel seeds evolve into fennel fronts; cinnamon and hot ginger begin to meld into a note of apples and cloves.
The spirit itself has a nice texture but it does present a fair amount of heat and warmth on the palate.
Certainly bartenders looking to play with Knickerbocker Gin’s long and evolving flavor palate might find it best suited in spirit-forward applications like the Martini.
On the other side, it has a delicate warmth that almost makes a Gin and Tonic slightly warming in impression. But my favorite drinks with Knickerbocker Gin may be the Negroni or Martinez. The spices complement sweet vermouth almost perfectly.
Overall, Knickerbocker Gin
Below those citrus-forward top notes lies a heady spice-forward gin. It’s a fun unfolding journey on the palate with botanicals almost taking turns after one another, each gracefully bowing as the other comes in.
Some may find the spice notes a bit too dominant while others may find the heat of Knickerbocker Gin a tad too much at this ABV. However, overall this is a flavorful spirit with a lot of character and potential for making exciting cocktails.