Denver, Colorado’s Wheelhouse Canning Co. burst on to the scene in late 2017 with a series of pre-mixed cocktails. Though only limited to distribution in Colorado at this point, Wheelhouse Cocktails is part of a growing trend stateside of more people getting into the ready-to-drink game [see my piece in Winter 2017 Artisan Spirit Magazine for more on this trend] . Wheelhouse Cocktails are produced by the Longmont, CO based CanSource and Vertical Distilling. These lines specialize in cans. As they told the Daily Camera, “Aluminum Cans are out lifeblood.” As one of the biggest challenges facing distilleries looking to get into this space is the availability of a canning line, Vertical seems well-positioned to capture a growing segment of the drinks market in the United States, in a market [Colorado] that fiercely supports local products. Anyway, back to the can. Wheelhouse’s Gin, Grapefruit, Mint and Lime canned cocktail is a robust 8.5% ABV in a 355 mL can. The cocktail seems a mix of the Southside and the Finnish Long Drink. If there was a spirits only edition of The Flavor Bible, most certainly all four of these flavors would be listed together.
The nose is pleasant, with a lot of mint at the top, but also some more complex, slightly grain/malt beverage notes. Wheelhouse Cocktails Gin, Grapefruit, Mint and Lime is moderately sweet. There’s a strong caraway and rye bread note coming through on the palate, likely from the gin. The rye bread note lasts quite a long time, sticking at the edges of the palate near the throat. Pleasant citrus, is also present on the palate. Grapefruit and lime combine slightly soda-wise, suggesting Wheelhouse Cocktails’ version of a clean grapefruit soda note. The mentholic mint adds a lightness and glow to the Gin. Grapefruit, Mint and Lime— in fact the mint is more restrained than some mint-forward gins I’ve had. Perhaps my biggest critique of Wheelhouse Cocktails’ choice of gin is that there’s precious little juniper to be found here. As I said, the caraway seed note is the strongest ingredient not listed on the front of the label. Might this ready-to-drink have just as easily been branded as Aquavit, Grapefruit, Mint and Lime?
Whether or not the juniper is front-and-center; Wheelhouse Cocktails Gin, Grapefruit, Mint and Lime is a delightful ready-to-drink cocktail based off a contemporary styled spice-forward gin. In fact, there’s many contemporary style gins who once mixed, a single non-juniper botanical takes front and center. However, I think there’s something interesting about a ready-to-drink based on a contemporary gin that veers a bit from the classic formula. Despite being a good cocktail, Wheelhouse’ Gin cocktail might be a bit surprising and less traditional than might be expected.