Montgomery Distilling’s Whyte Laydie Dry Gin begins from a base of Montana grown wheat— cultivated on the Montgomery family ranch. It’s then distilled in a 21 plate column still, which you might imagine, Montgomery Distilling is quite proud of and provides plenty of titillating still photography*.
If you’re anywhere near as much a banjo geek as I am a still geek (I’m both; I write these very reviews next to my banjo), you’ve might have heard of the Fairbanks Whyte Laydie. They’re renowned for their tone and are among the most desired antique banjos on the market. As the back of the label recounts, Jenny Montgomery’s (of the aforementioned Montgomery Distillery) father bought a Whyte Laydie No. 7. The “family treasure” lends Whyte Laydie Dry Gin it’s name.
Soft spice at first nose. Whyte Laydie Dry Gin begins with cardamom, warm grain, and some floral overtones.
The palate is incredibly smooth with an impeccable cleanness about it. The work that the team put into the base spirit is certainly evident here. Gentle spice and citrus at first, blossoms with floral notes mid-palate. Creamy hints of woodruff, yarrow and honeysuckle build out a complex floral accord. Juniper and cardamom simmer in the background, culminating with bitter orange rind, lemon rind, and dry herbaceous juniper.
The base is incredibly clean. Often times when I get a note of hay/grain on the nose, you expect a malty Holland style gin. Whyte Laydie Dry Gin is not that. It’s clean and smooth, content to support the botanicals.
Whyte Laydie Dry Gin makes a stellar Gin and Tonic and Martini. Fans of the Dirty Martini or even the Very Dirty Martini will appreciate how well the botanicals complement the dull bitterness of olives and the piquant vinegar notes of a good brine**. This gin is versatile in gin-forward applications and I think will appeal to a wide variety of tastes.
In more complex cocktails, you certainly do get a bit of its spice and floral perspective; just enough to add character. It is quite lovely aside floral liqueurs, such as in the Moonlight Cocktail or Aviation. I really loved Whyte Laydie Dry Gin in a Negroni. The spice notes come through as well as some crisp herbaceous juniper. It’s a perfect complement at either the traditional 1:1:1 or the more modern 2:1:1 approach.
Fans of base spirits that stay-out-of-the-way and fans of spice-forward contemporary gins will find a lot to like about Whyte Laydie Dry Gin. The team expertly handles easily overdone botanicals like cardamom*** and comes up with a gin— although contemporary— is steeped within the values and approach of more classic gins. Therefore, I think it will appeal to fans of both.
Bartenders may find this Montana gin to be quite versatile with fans of contemporary styles. It’s a solid mixing option for both the mixed drinks and the cocktails of choosing. If you’re looking for a good, versatile contemporary style gin for your bar program, Whyte Laydie Dry Gin could be it.
*Oh I’m not being facetious. My camera is full of gratuitous still photography from previous distillery visits.
** Please, good brine is a must. Don’t go dumping that bar container of olive juice in here as if it doesn’t even matter.
*** Oh Cardamom. The quintessential love/hate relationship. At least with botanicals.