Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary.

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary. EZdrinking is a drinks blog by Eric Zandona that focuses on distilled spirits, wine, craft beer and specialty coffee. Here you can find reviews of drinks, drink books, articles about current & historical trends, as well as how to make liqueurs, bitters, and other spirit based drinks at home.

Filtering by Tag: Contemporary Gin

Review: Astral Pacific Gin

Photo by The Spirit Guild


  • Distilled & Owned by: The Spirit Guild in Los Angeles, CA

  • Still Type: Pot Still

  • Spirit Type: Contemporary Gin

  • Strength: 43% ABV

  • Price: $35

Founded in 2012 by Miller Duvall and Morgan McLachlan, The Spirit Guild is a beautiful fruit to glass distillery in LA’s Arts District. Duvall’s family has been farming in California for six generations which partially inspired their decision to use state grown agriculture to distill into spirits. The base of their gin starts off as whole clementines which are fermented and distilled into a neutral brandy. The neutral brandy is then redistilled with juniper, coriander, angelica, cinnamon, grapefruit peel, clementine peel, orange tree leaves, pink peppercorn, pistachio nuts, sage, and orris root. After distillation, the gin is proofed to bring the alcohol content down to 43% ABV before bottling.

If you happen to be in the vicinity of downtown LA, definitely put The Spirit Guild on your list of places to visit. Their tasting room, in the front of the distillery, is an incredibly beautiful space with west facing stain glass windows that allow the bright Southern California sunshine to pour through and bathe the space in warmth and color.


Nose: The gin has a fragrant aroma of pine trees and fresh orange juice followed by an herbaceous note of oregano and a bright hit of clementine.

Palate: On the palate the gin is medium bodied and a little hot on the tongue. The flavors start with spicy notes of of juniper and black pepper which is balanced with a light orange sweetness.

Finish: On the finish the citrus character carries through with lingering flavor of grapefruit peal and a light bitter pith sensation.

Conclusion: Astral Pacific Gin is an interesting combination of juniper and multiple layers of citrus. As a contemporary gin that puts less emphasis on the juniper and more other other botanical, using a citrus brandy as the base is a unique and smart way to add layers of complexity. Overall, Astral Pacific is an interesting gin that lends itself to mixing in spirit forward cocktails and would be appreciated most by those that like citrus forward gins.

Review: Gin Farallon

At a Glance

  • Distilled & Owned by: Coastal Spirits in San Carlos, CA

  • Still Type: Pot Still

  • Spirit Type: Contemporary Gin

  • Strength: 43% ABV

  • Price: $35

Gin Farallon is the brainchild of Brad Plummer, the owner and operator of Coastal Spirits. Tucked into a small business park in San Carlos, CA, Plummer has been making gin, vodka and a number of liqueurs for the past few years. Gin Farallon starts with a neutral corn spirits which he redistills to remove some of the harsher elements. Plummer fills the still with his re-distilled neutral spirit and botanicals, some of which he macerates before distillation. After the gin is distilled,  Plummer proofs the spirit with water he has infused with cucumber. In 2017, Plummer's passion and work was rewarded when Gin Farallon earned a gold medal from the Judging of Craft Spirits.

Tasting Notes

Nose: The nose opens with aromas of cardamom, and dried orange peal. As it breathes, notes of angelica, orris root and bright pine begin to come forward. 

Palate: On the palate the gin has a very full body that shows lots of spice character from the cardamom and orris root and a slight green character perhaps from coriander.

Finish: The finish had a nice warmth that isn't harsh. Immediately after drinking, warm citrus notes dance on the tongue followed by earthy cucumber and floral notes supported be a lightly resinous flavor from the juniper. 

Conclusion: Gin Farallon is a very lovely contemporary gin that shows complexity in the botanicals though no one is overwhelming. True to the commentary style, the juniper plays a supporting role and is key to its overall balance. If you enjoy gin without an intense juniper character, check out Gin Farallon and use it to make a great Negroni, a floral gin and tonic, or even an aviation.

Review: Uncle Val's Botanical Gin

Uncle Val's Botanical Gin is owned by 3 Badge Beverage Corporation (August Sebastiani) based in Sonoma, CA; Distilled by Bendistillery in Bend, OR and Bottled by Frank-Lin Distillers Products in Fairfield, CA at 45% ABV. 

Price: $39 MSRP

Uncle Val's Gin is named after August Sebastiani's zio (uncle in italian) Valerio. Apparently Valerio was a physician who loved cooking and gardening. In honor of his memory August commissioned three gins that matched some of the flavor combinations he enjoyed. The Botanical Gin takes a 5 time distilled neutral spirit that is redistilled with juniper, cucumber, lemon, sage and lavender. The green glass bottle is modeled after traditional gin bottles from the 18th century with sides that slowly taper inward towards the bottom of the bottle. 

Tasting Notes

Nose: The nose is bright with inviting notes of lemon zest, cucumber and a faint hint of orris. 

Palate: The palate is smooth and luxurious with a little bit of heat from the alcohol. The initial flavor of the gin is slightly sweet from the lavender and citrus notes. As the gin lingers on your palate the flavors evolve and develop more savory characters from the juniper and sage. 

Finish: The finish is wam with long notes of juniper, sage, tarragon. As those savory notes fade away, lemon zest reemerges bright and fresh waiting for the next drink.  

Conclusion: Uncle Val's Botanical Gin is a good example of a citrus forward contemporary gin. It works well in a dry martini. The savory sage notes pair well with the vermouth and they are balanced nicely with the bright lemon zest. I would also imagine that this Botanical Gin would work well in a Bee's Knees. For my tastes, contemporary gins are not my favorite but Uncle Val's Botanical Gin is sure to please those who enjoy citrus forward gins that work well in cocktails and or like their martinis with a twist of lemon. 

Thank you to Folsom + Associates for providing the free sample.

Review: Venus Spirits Gin Blend No. 01

Gin Blend No. 01 is distilled by Venus Spirits and and bottled at 46% ABV.

Price Range: $30-$40

Venus Spirit is owned and operated by Sean Venus who worked for 14 years in the craft brewing and organic food industries before opening his distillery. Venus Spirits is located in Santa Cruz, three blocks from the coast and just 2 miles from the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. 


Nose: Smells of lavender and bright citrus with a low malt note in the background.

Palate: Tastes strongly of citrus and lavender.

Finish: The finish is smooth with little heat and a pleasant floral character.

Conclusion: Venus Spirits' Gin Blend No. 1 is a good example of a contemporary gin. In general I prefer more juniper forward gins so my rating has more to do with my own personal preference than the quality of the spirit. Blend No. 1 hits all the right notes for gin drinkers who like like more citrus and floral gins.  This would also work really well in a Corps Reviver #2.