EZdrinking

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: Craft Distillery

Review: Spirit Works Old Tom Gin

AT A GLANCE

  • Distilled & Owned by: Spirit Works Distillery in Sebastopol, California

  • Still Type: Hybrid Still

  • Spirit Type: Old Tom Gin

  • Strength: 44.9% ABV

  • Price: $32 (375ml)

Founded by Timo and Ashby Marshall, Spirit Works Distillery is a grain-to-glass distillery situated in downtown Sebastopol, California that specializes in a variety of whiskeys and gins. For more than five years, Timo and Ashby have been leading a dedicated team producing some of the best spirits in the state.

Their new distillery exclusive is Old Tom Gin. According to gin expert David T. Smith, in his Forgotten Spirits & Long Lost Liqueurs, old tom gins were invented during England’s 18th century “Gin Craze” as a means to hide the poor quality of the base spirit with sugar or with more intense botanicals. Today, quality neutral spirit to make gin is not an issue, but old tom gin has made a resurgence in part because it works very well in a number of classic cocktails.

Spirit Works’ Old Tom began as the brain child of Timo and starts with the classic gin botanicals of juniper, coriander, angelica root, cardamom, lemon and orange zest, rounded out with the addition of orris and licorice root. After distillation, the gin is rested for a three months in used wheat whiskey barrels and then sweetened with a little bit of local organic honey. This rest period gives the gin a light amber color and with the honey creates a nice round mouthfeel.

TASTING NOTES

Nose: The nose is lovely and inviting with notes of lemon and juniper followed with just a touch of honey and vanilla. Underneath the top aromas there is an interesting earthy aroma like toasted bread and a hint of spice that is reminiscent of citrus, juniper and rye.

Palate: On the palate the gin starts with a little heat but that quickly subsides into welcoming flavors of juniper, honey, and citrus that are slightly mellowed with a little woodiness. The honey gives the gin a very subtle sweetness, but it is balanced just perfectly, with no cloying sugar coating the palate, just nice and clean.

Finish: The finish is long with light notes of honey followed by warm oak character and just a touch of bitterness from the juniper.

Conclusion: Spirit Works Old Tom is a delicious example of the category and it is extremely versatile. Despite its near 90 proof bottling strength, the gin is easy to sip neat, and works well stirred on ice and served up with a twist. This old tom also work extremely well in classic gin cocktails like the Martinez and the Negroni. With this distillery exclusive, Spirit Works has once again demonstrated their incredible skill, and gives gin fan yet another reason to make the trek to Sebastopol and stock up on this fantastic spirit.

Review: Wintersun Aquavit

Photo from Bluewater Distilling

AT A GLANCE

  • Distilled & Owned by: Bluewater Distilling in Everett, WA

  • Still Type: Pot Still

  • Spirit Type: Aquavit

  • Strength: 40% ABV

  • Price: $37

Founded by John Lundin in 2008, Bluewater Distilling is located in Everett, WA about 30 minutes drive north of Seattle. In October 2018, Lundin released Wntersun Aquavit, the newest addition to the Bluewater line of spirits. Aquavit is a traditional botanical spirit from Scandinavia which is primarily flavored with caraway and or dill.

TASTING NOTES

Nose: Very pleasant nose of caraway, supported with light notes of anis and orange zest.

Palate: On the palate, the aquavit is very soft and smooth as it coats your tongue. The flavor starts with a burst of caraway followed by a round anis note and a hint of bright citrus.

Finish: The finish is long and subttle with sweet star anis and orang peal.

Conclusion: Wintersun is a subtle and well balanced aquavit that would be a good introduction for anyone unfamiliar with the category. Wintersun works well with dry vermouth as a substitute in a vodka martini, and could appeal as a botanical spirit for those not fond of juniper. While my personal preference gravitates towards aquavits with a more intense caraway character with no anis, Wintersun does a great job of creating a balanced spirit that stays true to the the category.

Review: Astral Pacific Gin

Photo by The Spirit Guild

AT A GLANCE

  • 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.

TASTING NOTES

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.