I am a big fan of the team at Oregon Spirit Distillers does. I was wowed by their Merrylegs Genever the first time I had it, and so naturally I was excited about their dry gin. Distilled from local winter wheat, Scribbles Dry Gin has a little bit of a local touch right out of the gate and continues with the playing card motif of spirit bottles which stand out on the shelf.
The nose is heady with pine-accented juniper, spruce branch and fir needles. Very thick, with an intense boreal character that is evocative of a wet pine forest as it is classic, but not quite classic. There’s a hint of coriander and citrus there as well, but I would call this a pine-forward, almost Alpine-style gin right off the back.
The palate is creamier with more wet pine needles, resinous juniper berry, dark coriander with hints of Icelandic moss, kale, camphor and muddle spearmint leaves. It’s intensely green, but there’s a peppery bit beneath it. Suggestive of watercress at first, it blossoms going full coriander and black peppercorn. There’s a bit of lemon on the edges.
The finish is long with mossy undertones, pine bough and spicy high hints of coriander. It has a long enduring warmth.
The spirit itself has a nice texture and rich body. I like the softness of the spirit.
Mixing with it is likely to begin and end with some of those intense piney/spruce notes. I think it’s a peculiar Gin and Tonic, even more so with lime, but one that suggests to me a hint of Christmas as much as it does summer day. Just when it feels heavy, the spice on the finish lifts it.
I suggest that when paired with a bright pine counterpoint like Clear Creek’s Douglas Fir Eau De Vie in the Douglas Fir Fizz, the gin seems to blossom. It complements Vermouth well as well and I found the Martini to work well, but it seemed out of sync in some more gin accentuated cocktails. I’m not sure I loved it in the Tom Collins or Aviation.
It’s a dark, unctuous, thick approach to the beauty of juniper. It certainly stands out among the crowd, but it may be too dark for some. The later spice notes, while a nice counterpoint, seem to build with each ensuing sup, almost dominating on the palate after awhile. It seems to lack some balance.
Overall, fans of classic style gin will probably find things to like about the juniper/pine accord that is pleasing, if a little bit darker than usual. It’s a peculiar spirit that breaks the mold, and while bartenders who are willing to put in the time to get to know Scribbles Dry Gin will find cocktails that highlight it’s unique points, Scribbles Dry Gin is not a plug and play do-it-all gin. It’s a niche gin that does some things well and is worth a closer look.