An Update on American Gin with Small’s and St George’s Rye

Living, as I do, outside of the USA, makes it rather tricky to acquire gin made by the plethora of craft/artisan/small distilleries in the country; most of the samples that I have tried have been very kindly brought back by friends and relatives.
I think the lack of accessibility of this market is a shame, because there are some really exciting things going on in the US Gin World, including both innovative styles and even more innovative ingredients, whether that be unusual botanicals, such as lavender (River Rose), fennel (Death’s Door) and distilled* cucumber (Seneca Drums, Yahara Bay), or unusual alcohol bases. Examples of the latter include Comb9, which distills a fermented honey mead when making their spirit, and Nevada’s Seven Grain Vodka, whose base spirit is made from a blend of 7 different grains.
With so many exciting developments going on, I was very pleased the other day to meet up with Michael Vachon from Ginuine Spirits, a company which specialises in American gin in the UK.
Michael was kind enough to bring me two samples to try:
#1 Smalls Gin
Made by Ransom Spiritsbased in Sheridan, Oregon. They also make Ransom Old Tom Gin. Small’s Gin includes botanicals such as  juniper, orange, lemon, coriander, cardamom, angelica, caraway, star anise, and raspberryOwn
Nose: Herbal pine and a touch of jam to start. This nose was slightly salty with some musky notes. After a few seconds, I also picked up some soapy coriander and floral notes. As you can probably tell, this wasn’t classic at all.
Taste: Initially smooth, with pine and a fair bit of cardamon. It was also very floral: iris rose and lavender came through, making it seem perfume-like, with a slight peppery-ness at the end and a hint of sweetness in the middle. Mrs. B described it as,“Floral, perfumed and exotic”.Gin & Tonic
This had very strong cardamon notes, alongside fresh juniper and citrus. I thought it was fresh, crisp and generally superb; I think any other cardamon fans will feel the same, but those who don’t like the flavour might disagree.Martini
A fruity and slightly salty nose led to a martini that had considerable warmth and a touch fruit, but was also very floral. There were some sappy, pine-y juniper notes and some herbal floral ones. Lavender, too. Herbaceous.Negroni
The herbal and floral flavours of this gin worked quite well with those of the Campari and vermouth; the result being a drink that was intense both in its general flavour and its level of herbal notes. I thought this was an extraordinary Negroni and, whilst it’s certainly not classic, it was still rather good.

#2 St. Georges Dry Rye Gin
This is made by the team at St. George’s Distillery, Alamada, California, who are the folks behind Hangar One vodka. They also make two other gins: Botanivore and Terroir. The Dry Rye Gin is based on rye spirit and contains twice as much juniper as the other two.
Nose: This was a dry and slightly floral nose, like Soochu, with some sweet brandy notes, too.
Taste: Smooth, with a slightly oily texture and some building warmth. It had a big mouth feel and a complex flavour with juniper, citrus, jammy berry notes and a menthol/euclyptus finish. As is typical with menthol, the finish was very cooling when you breathe in after drinking. There was also a little raspberry mixed in with the mint on the aftertaste, which hung around for 10+ minutes.
Gin & Tonic
This had a jammy nose with hints of floral. Altogether, it made a very floral Gin & Tonic that was a bit musky at the end. There was a nice freshness from the piney berry flavours and a strong tannin dryness at the end, alongside a hint of vanilla.
Dry, floral and souchu, again, with a hint of dry, dry berry. A bit like perfume and a bit like hairspray. Yeasty, too. Frankly, this was too fragrant for me, with neither enough juniper nor enough crispness.

*Hendrick’s Gin (and Martin Miller’s) also use cucumber, but, in their gins, it is not distilled.