While California’s Napa Valley is best known for its wine, it has become home to two distilleries in recent years. One of these is Loch & Union Distilling. Founded by Colin Baker and Chris Andrews, the centerpiece of their operation is a custom German-built set of stills. They have two gins out, one of which is their “American Dry.” Distilled from 12 botanicals on a base of neutral grain, Loch & Union Distilling American Dry Gin is the more traditional of the pair.
On the nose: Orange and citrus first and brightest, then green leaves, bitter orange rind and a hint of hay round things out.
Loch & Union Distilling’s American Dry Gin begins with a bright hint of spiced fresh oranges. There’s a bit of cinnamon, cassia and star anise. But the top notes fade rather quickly.
The heart of American Dry Gin in the glass is more of a clear bitter orange and orange rind with a bit of herbaceous juniper on the fringe. Even further down, there’s an earthy and pastoral spice blend that adds depth and complexity.
On the palate: pepper, orange rind— then pine bark and juniper. It all culminates in a gentle roar of warmth.
There’s an intriguing hint of grain in here, suggestive of wheat/corn vodkas— but it seems so mixed with the spice notes that it may be intimation more than reality. The grain is concentrated early, along with the bitter orange notes. Mid-palate allows the juniper to come through a bit more clearly. There’s a definite pine wood quality to some of these mid-notes.
The orange and citrus notes never quite dissipate. They still hold court on the late palate as the heat of the base spirit begins to rise. Kumquat rind and coriander hover on the finish, with a touch of green tea and raspberry leaf. It’s an intriguing and complex bouquet.
Loch & Union Distilling American Dry Gin creates an earthy, bitter orange filled Gin and Tonic. The quinine amplifies the bitterness. I think it is better suited with some lighter counterpoints. For example try Loch & Union’s “Classic Dry Gin” with something like Rose’s Lime Juice for a delicious Gimlet.
Fans of the heady citrus and gentle spice-touched grain will like the way it pairs with the wormwood of a nice Vermouth in a Martini, but I think it was even better with Yellow Chartreuse— from the Napa Valley up to the Alaska Cocktail.
Loch & Union Distilling’s American Dry Gin is a complex melange of spice and citrus with just enough juniper. It is certainly boldly flavored, with the nose and palate leaning towards the louder side of the spectrum. Therefore bartenders should be aware of how they’re mixing.