Cocktails with… Las Vegas Gin

Nevada Gin Title

In my quest to try a gin distilled in each state of the USA (plus the District of Colombia), it is now easier to tell which states still evade me:

Alabama
Arizona
Connecticut
Florida
Hawaii
Maryland
Nebraska
New Jersey
North Dakota
South Dakota
Oklahoma
Rhode Island
Tennessee
Utah
Wyoming
Nevada

This weekend, I could finally tick the Silver State off my list. The gin that I’m looking at today comes from the Las Vegas Distillery, located in Henderson, just outside of Las Vegas.

I have already tried their excellent vodka, which is made from a blend of seven different grains (wheat, millet, rye, spelt, corn, oat, and malted barley), and so was understandably keen to try their gin, which is distilled from grain and bottled at 45.0% ABV.

A bottle of gin distilled in Las Vegas

THE TASTE

On its own
Nose: Quite dry, with chocolate and vanilla notes, as well as coriander, fennel and lemon verbena.
Taste: A smooth liquid, with clear juniper upfront, followed by a smoky middle, somewhat reminiscent of tequila or mezcal. Finally, there is a sweet confectionery lift, with a little dark chocolate cream.

Gin & Tonic
The tequila notes I have hinted to are well-pronounced when the gin is mixed with tonic, making this seem like a gin/tequila/tonic hybrid. There is still some dryness towards the end, along with a little citrus. Given the unusual flavour profile, lime seems to be the best choice for the garnish. All-in-all, this is a refreshing and original drink.

Martini
A fine, dry Martini with quite lot of spice, fennel, coriander, and liquorice. These notes are then followed by some smokiness towards the end, which is neatly combined with the dryness. Given that this is a little more savoury than most Martinis, I think it would work well with an olive garnish.

Negroni
A rather wild Negroni: smoky and dry, with plenty of spice and a hint of agave. Certainly a more contemporary take on the drink, but an excellent and flavourful one, nonetheless.

From the Freezer
Viscous and rather lovely; a smoky, almost salty character develops at low temperature, followed by juniper and a little dry citrus on the finish. Very intriguing and a treat to sip.

In Conclusion
This gin is very good and is one of the most original and engaging dry gins that I have tried for a while. It mixed well in all of the drinks mentioned above, but the Martini was my favourite. I’m very keen to find out more about how it is made.

Cocktails with.. Greyling Gin

Greyling Gin Header

I like gin from Michigan; mostly because I’ve never had a bad one and so, now, whenever I see a mention of the Great Lakes state on a bottle, as  with Two Bird Artisan Spirit’s Greyling Gin, my expectations are raised.

That said, I soon discovered that this particular gin is currently being made by experienced distillers Yahara Bay in Madison, Wisconsin. They also make Yahara Bay Gin and used to make Death’s Door. I’m sure that, if all goes well, like with Death’s Door, Greyling may fly the roost and set up shop on their own.

For clarity’s sake, I think that it’s great that there is such a range of variety options for people who want to make good quality gin. The tens of thousands of dollars (or pounds) of investment, not to mention the time, needed makes making spirits from scratch out of the reach of many individuals. As always, the most important point is that you design/produce a product that tastes great.

Greyling Modern Dry Gin c/o TheGinIsIn.com

Greyling Modern Dry Gin c/o TheGinIsIn.com

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Classic and straightforward: bright, green, sappy juniper to start, which then softens to a less sharp citrus – lemon and grapefruit mainly, with a hint of lemon pith in particular.
Taste: Pretty classic, rather vibrant, some spicy coriander notes upfront as well as anise or maybe fennel. A citrus (grapefruit, orange) and coriander middle and the a dry juniper finish. Some sweetness throughout almost reminiscent of a fine orange liqueur. Most sippable.

Gin & Tonic
Greyling makes a crisp, citrusy and flavourful Gin & Tonic. There’s also a little vanilla, combined with notes of lemon curd, as well as some dry pine. Overall, this is a very accessible and tasty drink and exceptionally refreshing.

Martini
Great – another clean and crisp drink, with clean, pine-y juniper followed by some lovely rounded-out notes of sweet rose, somewhat reminiscent of Turkish Delight. Classic, but with a twist – very good, indeed. This cocktail also has a lovely texture and is something that I would happily drink again.

Negroni
A fine Negroni if ever there was one; a great bitter-sweet balance and quite a thick texture, as well as juniper and citrus notes. Nothing outrageous or out-of-the-box; just a good, solid drink.

 

Greyling Gin is available for around $28  for 750ml from InternetWines.com

Cocktails with… Aria Gin from Oregon, USA!

AriaGinTitle

When a gin makes a name for itself well beyond the shore of its production, then you need to sit up and take notice and the biggest gin that I had heard people talking about (that I hadn’t tried) recently has been Aria. As a result, I was delighted when, on a recent trip to the USA, I got the chance to try some.

Aria, hailing from Portland Oregon is made at the Bull Run distillery by the Martin Ryan Distilling Company. On their website, they say:

Aria Portland Dry Gin is a Classic Gin the bridges the gap between London Dry and Plymouth Styles.” *

Tasting the gin, it certainly has a lot of classic elements going on: juniper upfront and some coriander, but there’s also a really pleasant softness that’s somewhat reminiscent of Plymouth English Gin.

AriaGin

Bottled at 45% ABV, Aria uses a mix of 10 botanicals:

Juniper
Coriander
Angelica
Lemon
Orange
Orris
Cardamom
Cassia
Grains of Paradise
Cubeb Berries

On it’s own
Nose: Coriander with some floral notes and some savoury, herbal notes.
Taste: Juniper upfront, followed by spicy coriander and the some floral elements like violet or lavender. There’s also a long, piney citrus note with a little orange. This gin has a lovely texture, with a smooth sweetness throughout.

Gin & Tonic
A great, spicy nose is followed by some good spicy and herbal notes on the taste. It’s very smooth and has hints of cardamom and some nuttiness, as well as a citrus vanilla note towards the end. Rich, but not sickly. Choosing the right garnish, for me, would be tricky, but – overall – I think it has enough character to stand without one.

Martini
Some sweetness to start. This is very intense and herbal, with fresh pine needles coming through, along with the juicy juniper. This makes the way for hints of dark liquorice and anise. There are some good herbal and spicy elements, but plenty of juniper, too. Very well-balanced.

Negroni
A rich and viscous Negroni with a delightful bitter edge on the finish. The taste is bold, with citrus and floral flavours. It’s easy to drink, with hints of wood and pine mixed amongst those of the Campari and vermouth. Really excellent; one for the aficionado.

In Conclusion
I’ve wanted to try Aria Gin for a while and, to my mind, it was well worth the wait. I’m a big fan of contemporary styles of gin, which US Craft Distillers seem to excel at producing, but it’s nice to see that there are still some craftsmen making delicious gins in a more Classical style. Aria can hold its own against Britain’s finest, in my opinion. My favourite drink was the Negroni.

Check out Aria Gin:
Website
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* Some may disagree, but I don’t think that Plymouth should be considered a style, because its categorization is simply a legal anomaly (a GI status, which would be unlikely to be granted today) and its distinction from other gins has nothing to do with how it tastes. The only impact that being made at its location has that makes a difference is the fact that it uses soft water from Dartmoor (although you could source this and ship it anywhere; your gin wouldn’t have to be made in Plymouth). The sweet and earthy flavour of Plymouth Gin, which I think is excellent, is to do with the choice and mix of its botanicals.

Cocktails with… Corsair Gin (from Kentucky)

CorsairTitle This gin should be of particular interest to anyone who is familiar with the excellent book, “Alt Whiskeys” by Darek Bell, as it is made by the author himself. The exact botanical make-up of Corsair remains undisclosed, but it does include the six stalwarts of gin botanicals: Juniper, Coriander, Angelica, Lemon, Orange and Orris. The spirit base of the gin is neutral grain spirit and the gin is make at Corsair’s Kentucky distillery (not the one in Tennessee). In addition to this American Gin, they make an Aged Gin and a Genever. CorsairGinBottle On its own

Nose: Buttery and herbal, with hints of gazpacho. In addition to pine, there are some herbal notes, such as thyme.

Taste: Really complex; a whole array of notes, including: tea, rosemary, mint, thyme, pickles, cucumber, broth, celery, vegetables, salad, soft bread. It is generally savoury, with a soup-like quality and juniper at the end.

Gin & Tonic

Juniper to start with, followed by a yeasty, bready finish. This is quite nice; a Gin & Tonic, but slightly reminiscent of a combination of white whiskey and tonic. There’s a good amount of bitterness and green, herbal notes.

Martini

This is probably the best way to drink the gin. It’s relatively clean and neutral, with some cardamom, as well a hint of tea and rosemary towards the end. This has the levels of smoothness usually associated with a Vodka Martini.

Negroni

OK, but the gin is less pronounced and almost lost in the mixture. The cocktail as a whole has a good balance and is pretty tasty all the same; it’s just that you can’t really appreciate the gin. A little  sweetness appears towards the end.

In Conclusion

Corsair Gin has a some interesting herbal and savoury notes to it, resulting in a spirit that lends itself well to certain cocktails (a Red Snapper seems an obvious example). Of those I tried, the Martini was my favourite drink.

United States of Gin will return in… Cocktails with… Ridge Distillery Silvertip American Gin from Montana

Cocktails with.. Smooth Ambler’s Greenbrier Gin – from West Virginia USA!

SmoothAmblerTitle

Hailing from Maxwelton, West Virginia Greenbrier Gin (40.0%ABV) is just one of Smooth Ambler‘s variety of products, other include a vodka (Whitewater) a white whisky, two bourbons and a rather excellent aged gin.

Greenbrier Gin spirit base is Smooth ambler’s Whitewater Vodka (a blend of  corn, wheat & barley) and contains a mix of seven botanicals:

SmoothAmblerBots

1) On its own
Nose: Juniper, supported by warm, savoury spice and a light, warm, sweet yeasty note.
Taste: Smooth, with a very dry, clean taste; almost a hint of soda water to start with. As the flavour progresses, the bitterness increases. There’s spice upfront, along with some juniper and that long, earthy bitter note of a good soda water on the finish.

2) Gin & Tonic
Not bad; some yeast/bread/grain notes, followed by a fruity jamminess. Other than this luscious boost of succulent sweetness, the drink is actually quite dry and a bit spicy at the end. Sadly, with Schweppes, the finish is slightly cloying.

SmoothAmblerBottle

3) Martini
This cocktail has lots of floral spiciness, which I really like. There’s also a touch of malt and a sweet breadiness. For a Martini, this has some pleasant fruity notes; this fruity aspect reminds me of gins made from potato-based spirit.

4) Negroni
Nutty, with hint of freshly ground coffee beans. There is also a touch of salted peanuts and a pinch of popcorn, which are followed by some deeper herbal notes. Well-balanced, with a juicy fruitiness on the finish. I like this a lot – it was a pleasure to drink.

In Conclusion
Smooth Ambler is a good example of how the base you use for your gin can be just important as your botanical mix. In fact it would be good fun to try the same botanical mix with different spirits bases.

The Negroni was outstanding I really liked the nutty-coffee aspect of the drink and it is something I could enjoy over and over again.

us gin tag
Juniper, Coriander, Angelica, Lemon, Orange, Cardamom, Black Pepper

Cocktails with… River Rose Gin from Iowa

Image from TheGinIsIn.com

Image from TheGinIsIn.com

If you are looking for a gin from Iowa (the the state to join the Union), then I suggest you take a trip to LeClaire on the Mississippi River, where, fittingly, the Mississippi River Distilling Company make not only a gin, but River Pilot Vodka and River Baron White Whiskey. They also make a bourbon and a rye whiskey.

River Rose is a fictional 1920s lady who is the granddaughter of the River Baron (whom the bourbon is named after).

River Rose Gin is made from a corn-based spirit and contains 12 botanicals.

1) On its own
Nose: A touch of caraway, lots of orange, coriander seed and a leafy hint of lemon.
Taste: Caraway and creamy lemon, followed by a more floral citrus. Bitter and dry juniper pops up at the end, rather than the beginning, with a final fresh finish. This is a very pleasant drink to sip neat on its own.

2) Gin & Tonic
Grainy, with a fair bit of anise and cardamom, followed by a sweet breadiness and sweet liquorice. This is a very different sort of Gin & Tonic, mostly because of its sweetness; I think that a tonic like East India would work well with it, counteracting this. Not a bad Gin & Tonic, but your choice of mixer and garnish would make all the difference.

3) Martini
Lots of flavour: mostly caraway and lemon, it reminds me somewhat of a caraway vodka I had once from France. Delightfully smooth and rather raising to the appetite (I had to have a little nibble of something afterwards), making it perfect for the cocktail hour.

4) Negroni
Initially, there’s a lot of anise, as if the Negroni glass had been given an absinthe rinse (now there’s an idea!). In addition to this spice, there was also some cardamom. This is a very well-balanced drink and gained the greatest endorsement of all – Mrs. B. (usually a loather of Campari) was rather keen on it. River Rose, you have outdone yourself!

In Conclusion
this was really great gin, it brought a lot of character to each oft he drinks. Some pleasant floral and herbal notes and it makes a fantastic Negroni, if you can find a bottle of this I would recommend it.

us gin tag

Cocktails with… FEW American gin from Illinois, USA

FewTitle

There are a lot of Gins made in the US and there are lot of Gins made in the UK, but, sadly, there are relatively few US gins available in the UK; most come through the lovely folks at Eaux de Vie, but there is a new US spirits importer intown: Ginuine Spirits, headed up by Michael Vachon.

Ginuine Spirits have just brought five excellent products over to the UK: a Bourbon, a Rye Whiskey, a White Whiskey, a Gin and a  Navy-Strength Gin. Given its imminent landing on British soil, FEW American Gin seemed to be the perfect choice for the Illinois Gin in our United States of Gin Tasting.

FEW Distillery is based in Evanston, Illinois and the Master Distiller is Paul Hletko. As mentioned above, they make a variety of products and, additionally, produce limited editions of a rather tasty yellow/cask/aged Gin, which we tasted [here].

FEWGinBottle

FEW American Gin is rather unusual in that the spirit base is the same as their high corn white whiskey. 70% corn, 20% wheat, 10% 2 row malt. It is bottled at 40%ABV.

The Taste

1) On its own
Nose: Wheat, grain and bread (the base of the gin really comes through), followed by some pine, citrus and a touch of coriander.
Taste: Very soft and smooth initially and also quite sweet, with some liquorice. This is followed by pine and some floral notes, chocolate and coriander towards the end. This Gin has a very long finish, full of anise and liquorice. It’s something very different, but very tasty, too.

2) Gin & Tonic
A juicy and citrusy Gin & Tonic, with a fair hint of White Whiskey and corn coming through, but less juniper than many. It has a touch of sweetness, too, alongside some more liquorice. It’s definitely different, but well-liked by Mrs. B.

3) Martini
Crisp and powerful (given only 40%ABV), this is grainy, with just a hint of vanilla and a dry juniper finish. This is very different; unlike any Martini that I’ve had before, but excellent.

4) Negroni
The FEW American Gin made quite a sweet Negroni, with a long, lingering herbal bitterness, liquorice, anise and a touch of the bitterness of treacle. It’s something different, with the whole flavour of the drink lasting for a long time. The base spirit of the Gin also comes through, adding grainy notes. A different breed of Negroni, but very good, nonetheless.

5) Old Fashioned
The sweet creamy vanilla notes of the gin really comes through and the base really lends itself to the drink (the FEW white whiskey makes an exception Old Fashioned). Flavourful with those familiar gin characteristics of juniper and coriander alongside some floral elements. Pleasantly the drink is well balanced and a chord is struck between the various tastes. Very good indeed.

In Conclusion
FEW American Gin is rather different to most other gins; a lot of this is down to the unique use of White Whisky as its base. This adds a light, grainy maltiness that adds a different dimension to the gin. In fairness, it may not be for everyone, but I think many will love it and it is certainly worth trying. My favourite drink (which was very difficult to choose) was the Old Fashioned and Mrs. B liked the Gin & Tonic.

FEW American Gin is available for around £32 for 750ml from The Whisky Exchange.

Cocktails with… Waterloo Gin (from Texas)

I know what you are thinking, “They make gin in TEXAS?”. Well, yes, they do, and pretty fine stuff it is, too. Waterloo Gin is made by the Treaty Oak Distilling Company of Austin, Texas. They started off their range by making a Plantation Rum and, in November 2011, they released a Gin, Waterloo Gin, which is described as:

“stay(ing) true to the traditional London Dry Gin style, while still making the gin’s Texas roots evident”.

Waterloo Gin is bottled at 47%ABV and contains 11 botanicals:

1) On its own
Nose: A sweet spiciness and juniper upfront, followed by a slight medicinal note and a fresh citrus towards the end.
Taste: Crammed full of flavours, with a little bit of sweetness. Fresh, fruity citrus and sarsaparilla (maybe sassafras) root are quite noticeable, but there is also some cardamom toward the end and a slightly bitter finish. Overall, this is sweet, spicy and generally delicious.

2) Gin & Tonic
This drink is pleasant, indeed; some juniper is followed by cinnamon and cardamom. There is also a little sweetness, which is accompanied by a hint of root beer. Pretty well-balanced and refreshing.

Waterloo Gin (Austin, Texas) at Waterloo Train Station (London, UK)

Waterloo Gin (Austin, Texas) at Waterloo Train Station (London, UK)

3) Martini
Bitter dark chocolate notes are accompanied by a strong burst of cardamom and then a clean citrus, with juniper being present throughout. This is superb and exactly my sort of Martini (I am a self-confessed sucker for cardamom*). The finish also has a zesty edge, which signs the drink off nicely.

4) Negroni
This cocktail was okay, but, sadly, the Gin seems a bit lost. The bitter-sweet balance is good, producing a good, standard drink, but it’s not outstanding. There’s a little sweetness towards the end. I would say that there are much better ways to appreciate this spirit.

In Conclusion
Waterloo Gin really does show that the Texans make excellent Gin and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. This Gin combines excellent flavours with traditional characteristics and a contemporary twist. I really like the addition of pecans in the botanical mix – it adds a unique character.

Cocktails with… Knickerbocker Gin (from Michigan)

Representing the 26th state, New Holland Distilling were kind enough to oblige us with a bottle of their gin from Michigan, Knickerbocker Gin. In addition to this, the Distillery also make two vodkas, three rums, six whiskies (including one co-distilled with Bill Owens, President of The American Distilling Institute) and, finally, a Hopquila – a kind of tequila that’s made from hops.

Knickerbocker Gin is bottled at 42.5% ABV, and contains a mix of 12 botanicals:

On its own
Nose: Vibrant: full of sweet cinnamon and savoury spice, herbs and a lift of cardamom, which balances out what would otherwise have been quite a heavy nose.
Taste: There’s lots of flavour here, too, making this more intense than a typical gin. Flavours of nutmeg and cinnamon are both strong, the latter being especially apparent on the finish. Juniper appears in the middle, but is surrounded by flavours that seem quite different and separate to it, despite the fact that they all work well together. Generally, this is quite spicy with a pleasant warm, dry finish.

Gin & Tonic
Another sweet and spicy delight, this reminds me a little of the Portobello Road Gin or the new Chase British Gin. Flavours of nutmeg, cinnamon and gingerbread are all strong, making this a good example of an autumnal Gin & Tonic; different, but very tasty with a dry finish. There’s more nutmeg at the end. To balance out the sweet spice, my recommended garnish would be both lemon and lime (or Evans style)

Martini
Very spicy, with lots of dry cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg. Not bad, but it is a bit odd; some folks will love it, others will hate it. I’m not quite sure which camp I’m in.

Negroni
Sweet and spicy (I guess you are starting to see a trend here); the Christmas spice combo reminds me of cinnamon whirls or the Cinnabon buns that you often get at breakfast for my American cousins. This is surprisingly soft for a Negroni and wonderfully smooth, but isn’t as bitter as many Negronis (it’s almost as if it were a dessert Negroni). Nonetheless, it’s a real pleasure to drink, with a bit of bitterness reminiscent of dark chocolate on the finish.

In Conclusion
Knickerbocker is one of a growing number of gins that chose to emphasise a sweet and spicy flavour profile, full of Christmas spices such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. This can make it a challenge to mix with, but, with a bit of imagination, this needn’t be a problem. The gin  lends itself particularly well to Autumn (Fall) or Winter cocktails, which is somewhere that gin is currently lacking.

My favourite drink was the Negroni.

Cocktails with… FEW American Gin from Illinois

Cocktails with… Back River Gin (from Maine)

Made by Sweetgrass Distillery and Winery in Union, Maine., Back River Gin describes itself as a:

“Gin made in the London tradition with a Maine twist, blueberries.  The combination of organic botanicals, Maine blueberries, and sea air give our gin its refreshing taste.”

I’m not sure if the sea air can really affect a gin (unless it’s aged), but I do know that Plymouth and Adnams Gins are both made by the sea and both produce excellent products.

Picture of Back River Gin from LeafMag

Back River Gin uses Neutral Grain Spirit as its base, contains a mix of seven botanicals and is bottled at 43%ABV.

1) On its own
Nose: Orange, lime and coriander. There’s also hints of lemon shortbread, grain and, finally, a hint of vanilla. There’s also a touch of powdered liquorice root that gives the nose an almost talc-like quality.
Taste: Heavy on the citrus, this has both orange and coriander notes that are accompanied by sweet anise. The flavour becomes smoother as you continue to drink, with juniper and a swirl of floral notes at the end.

2) Gin & Tonic
Very floral, with zesty citrus, hibiscus and a fair dose of lavender and pine. This isn’t Classic in terms of style and produces a Gin & Tonic that is far more perfumed than many others. The flavour of coriander leaf is prominent throughout.

3) Martini
This cocktail is full of strong and spicy cardamom, along with cilantro and cinnamon. These notes are dominant and the juniper definitely takes a backseat in this Martini. There’s some lavender towards the end, but the finish is mostly just more cilantro and dry cinnamon.

4) Negroni
This is a sound Negroni that has good balance and contains all of the aspects that a traditionalist would expect in the cocktail, but – sadly – has no “WOW” factor. Still, for fans of traditional Negronis, this won’t disappoint.

In Conclusion
This gin has plenty of citrus, floral and coriander notes and whilst the juniper is there it certainly takes a back seat. That said I think the gin could be good to converting reluctant gin drinkers to some of the classics.

My favourite drink was the Martini.

United States of Gin will return in…

Cocktails with… Knickerbocker Gin from Michigan