We all know I'm a bit of a whiskey nut, right? Love me some brown. That doesn't mean I'm not an equal opportunity cocktailer, I don't shun the clear spirits, gin is my friend. But when I find something that rather hearkens to my penchant for sippin' mash and talkin' trash, well hello.
J. Carver Distillery in Waconia is making a barreled gin that I think is spectacular. This golden liquid is rich and surprising with a bump of vanilla riding through the grassy, citrusy ginny bits. It's a seductive sipper.
Bill and Matt Miller, those crazy brothers in the West, have made gin from local ingredients including nearby grains, wild rice, and botanicals such as everlasting clover, plus cinnamon and sweet orange peel. They take a blend of their gins and put them into white oak barrels from Avon, Minn., which have been charred on the inside, like bourbon barrels. There the batch rests in their barrel room for an amount of time that isn't really long enough to call aging, but just long enough to have an impact: weeks to months. They constantly monitor the batch, pulling samples to read the intensity, only bottling when they feel like it has reached full potential without losing its identity as gin. The result is a liquid that has a softness and a lilting oak character, but remains bright and balanced between spicy and citrusy (read: VaVaVoom).
Know what else? Robb Jones is a fan. The head barman at Spoon & Stable went out to the distillery for a little sampling, and they ended up with their own barrel of gin. “The one we chose was smokier, woodier, and more aggressive than the others. It was definitely the most unique offering of what we sampled and thought it would make the most sense for our program.” You can taste it on the drinks menu in the Beez Kneez cocktail which is made with local honey as well. And stay tuned, they’ve got a few more ideas on deck for that gin.
I have been sipping this gin like a whiskey, with one elegant cube of ice. But I have also been sipping it in a simple cocktail of gin, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and a splash of simple syrup, that partner Gina Holman made me in their soon-to-be-launched tasting room. I might add a bit of ginger, but this is how I will likely be drinking it all summer. Come aboard.