With the rise of craft and micro-distillers comes an increased desire to innovate and experiment in search of a gin that breaks boundaries and sets itself apart from the crowd. An increasingly popular way of doing this is to use a non-typical base spirit (i.e. not Neutral Grain Spirit). Often, the base spirit used is inspired by what grows around the distillery and one such example is apples. There are apple base spirits in use throughout the US and the William Case Gin of the UK also uses an apple base.
Today’s focus is on another gin with an apple base spirit, named Bellewood Gin from Lynden, in the North of the state of Washington. Bellewood Gin’s apple spirit base is made from a blend of 21 varieties of apples, primarily Jonagold and Jonamac, but generally a mix, depending on the harvest. Its seven botanicals are vapour infused using a gin basket in a Vendome still and include:
On its own
Nose: Spiced apple with juniper, angelica, and some lovely, warm spiced notes: cinnamon, nutmeg, and cassia, as well as fruity raisin. Warm and inviting.
Taste: A lovely, smooth spirit with the apple working well with the dry botanicals (juniper, angelica); this is then balanced out by some of the sweet, baking spice notes, which are somewhat reminiscent of an apple crumble or baked apple.
Gin & Tonic
The base comes through strongly, giving a dry apple flavour that’s followed by a flair of gingerbread spice, although this is slightly more subtle than the flavours of the gin on its own. The finish is dry, with some bitterness from the quinine and juniper that stops the drink from becoming too sweet.
A spicy Martini with citrus (orange and lemon) and spice, including cinnamon, nutmeg, cassia, and even a hint of vanilla. It’s a little like some kind of cinnamon bread, but one that is, thankfully, not too sweet. All-in-all, this is a smooth and viscous Martini that I’d happily have again.
Another delightful Bellewood drink. This is full of fresh, crisp apple notes, as well as piney juniper and cinnamon spice, which work well with the cocktail’s other ingredients to create a tasty drink that’s full of flavour.
Bellewood is an exemplary example of an apple-based gin. Depending upon how it’s mixed, different aspects of the spirit came through – a sign of good gin. My favourite cocktail was the Martini.