Gin is making a comeback—and not just any gin. American insurgents are wooing fans of well-known British brands (Plymouth, Beefeater) by toning down the juniper and ratcheting up other botanicals—citrus, florals, spices. Call it a Western ginaissance. We had just one question: Which are the best?
1. Corsair Gin
Sleek and bright, with cucumber, coriander, and licorice root.
It’s Tennessee’s only gin distillery. “We’re surrounded by gin haters,” says co-owner Darek Bell. “What we do with gin in whiskey country—it’s a gintervention.”
No boiling—botanicals are bathed in alcohol vapor, extracting lighter, nuanced flavors.
2. Ebb+Flow Gin
Classic, with coriander, cardamom, and angelica (the root is used in herbal medicine).
"Instead of neutral grain spirits, we use a malted-barley blend to make it a little softer," says owner Steven Stone.
High-proof spirits, like full-bodied wines, feel richer in the mouth. But at 94 proof, lesser gins might also burn. Not Ebb+Flow.
Fruity and fragrant, with chamomile, citrus, and cinnamon.
Founder Steven DeAngelo was a capital-markets broker in 2008 when the economy collapsed, “and we drank a lot.” By 2012, he and his brother had traded Wall Street for gin-making.
A unique vacuum process creates low-temperature distillation, which helps protect Greenhook’s delicate nose from getting knocked out of joint.
Smoky, thanks to red cedar.
"I developed the Cedar specifically to make my perfect Negroni," says cofounder Emily Vikre.
For fermentation and proofing, Vikre uses purified Lake Superior water, which is soft and devoid of (taste-altering) minerals.
5. Dry Fly Gin
Very Pacific Northwest, with native Fuji apple, lavender, and hops.
"We both despised gin, and it was over a bottle of overpriced, average vodka that we decided to make Dry Fly," says co-owner Kent Fleischmann.
Instead of buying their alcohol base in bulk, they make it from local ingredients.
6. Bristow Gin
Citrusy, because of minty hyssop and lemon verbena.
Distiller Phillip Ladner started out in wine in New Zealand (where he crushed grapes) before turning to gin and settling in Mississippi.
Instead of soaking herbs for one day, Ladner lets them seep for a week, intensifying flavor. It’s remarkably smooth, despite its higher proof.
7. Glorious Gin
A combo of ginger, rosemary, citrus, and, yes, juniper.
"The base is more like a white whiskey," says distiller Brad Estabrooke. Upstate New York grain lends it sweetness and kick.
While most gins distill botanicals at once, Glorious slow-distills each individually before blending them to get the balance just right.
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Cask to Flask: Barrel-Aged Gins
The latest trend in American gins is barrel aging. We know what a little wood can do to tame tequila and rum, and the added texture and richness to gin will surprise even the staunchest whiskey loyalists. This winter, try one of these in lieu of bourbon in your next Old Fashioned.
Barr Hill Tom Cat Barrel Aged Gin
Hardwick, Vermont, 43 percent ABV
No. 209 Barrel Reserve Gin (Sauvignon Blanc or Cabernet Sauvignon casks)
San Francisco, California, 46 percent ABV
Smooth Ambler Stillhouse Collection Barrel Aged Gin
Maxwelton, West Virginia, 49.5 percent ABV
By Jason Tesauro
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