With extremely limited distribution, Spy Hop Distilled Gin, and the rest of the line which includes several other spins on the local fauna of the San Juan Islands are pretty much only available there. And by design too. By keeping their distribution radius small, they cultivate a local following, but also are able to experiment in ways, and on scales that a large scale distiller wouldn’t be able to.
Spy Hop gin is a study in the terroir of the San Juan Islands mashed up with a traditional, global, assortment of ingredients. Cardamom meet local lavender. Local barks meet lemon, orris root meet wild roses and so on.
A ton of cardamom on the nose, it starts off with a chai like intensity. Hints of juniper and citrus a bit lower. Creamy, the nose feels more eastern/Indian than it does San Juan Island. The palate adds some color. Still cardamom, but plenty else. Early, a pulse of coriander, jammy/floral notes mid-palate, with lavender, rose and lemon coming through. Juniper, with a wooden tint comes through a bit later, with star anise appearing towards the finish. A bit of zip starts the finish, which is medium length and somewhat short, leaving a bitter, but neutral clean astringency that calls to mind the sensation of Szechuan peppercorns on the back of the throat after it fades.
Overall, Spy Hop Distilled Gin is a nice gin, if a bit too heavy on the cardamom. It has a lot of potential as a mixing gin, with the nice cardamom notes coming of brightly in a Gin and Tonic. Also good in a Martini, it’s a contemporary styled gin that will please fans of cardamom forward/spice-forward contemporary style gins.
A nice spice-forward (cardamom-forward) contemporary style gin that’s appeal resides solely on your feelings about that one botanical. Though it dominates the nose and the palate, plenty of other botanicals contribute, with a foresty juniper and lavender notes contributing some color. Mixes well, and the gin and tonic is certainly good enough to make this gin seeking out, that is again, if you’re down with the cardamom.