Stonecutter Spirits are based in rural Vermont, in a 12,000 sq foot distillery overlooked by mountains. Situated as it is, their weather frequently changes humidity, temperature and pressure, and here they set up their distillery where they create whiskey and barrel aged gin. The gin is not only gluten free, but also certified Kosher, made with cardamom, orange peel, juniper, liquorice root and coriander, plus unusual botanicals rose petals and green tea. The botanicals were picked to complement the Kentucky bourbon barrels and enhance the caramel notes; they say that the barrels help bring the flavours together and blend the cardamom, orange and green tea. In 2019 their gin won a Double Gold at the San Francisco International Spirit Awards, so let’s see how it holds up.
Happy first day of Ginvent! Here we are for my fourth year and kicking off the festivities with Conniption Navy Strength gin. Hailing from the Durham Distillery, this gin isn’t from the Durham of Cathedral fame, instead they are based in Durham, North Carolina. We’ll take a short detour here to talk about American gins as they have some different rules over the sea. Here in the UK, to be gin the flavour must be “predominantly” juniper with a minimum ABV of 37.5%. In the USA, gins have to be “characteristically” juniper and a minimum of 40% ABV. This means their gins have a different feel as the juniper is less obvious (at least in the American gins I’ve tried previously) which allows them to play with their flavour profile a bit more. Now we have that out the way, the distillery uses a two step process to create their gins. First they perform a traditional distillation in a copper pot, then they move on to a more modern vacuum distillation for their more delicate botanicals. Their original gin uses cucumber and honeysuckle to create a fresh and floral finish, and usually when a brand creates a navy strength gin they tend to just amp up their recipe. Here, they share just three botanicals but add sweet citrus and fig and raises the ABV to 57%. They have won a number of awards, most recently winning the Best American Navy Strength gin at the 2019 World Gin Awards and before that a double gold (pretty impressive) at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. So, how does it taste?
If you saw a full size bottle of 209 gin you’d recognise it instantly. One of the first craft gins on the scene, they launched in 2005 from San Francisco and are available in most supermarkets. They’ve since gone on to release an interesting range of gins – three of them are barrel aged in wine casks, giving them a sauvignon blanc, a chardonnay and a cabernet sauvignon. They also have a gin and vodka which are Kosher-for-Passover – one of the only spirits in the world overseen by The Orthodox Union to ensure the entire process meets the kosher dietary law. Their flagship gin differs to the norm, thanks to American definitions on gin theirs is less focused on juniper, and features citrus and floral notes with a touch of spice.
You may have read before that I think Cherry Constable is a great friend. And I am right. Another postal delivery bought a sample of Glorious gin – no, I’m not just fawning over it already, that’s the name. Hailing from Breuckelen Distilling in Brooklyn, they make Glorious Gin – distilled from a wheat spirit distilled with grapefruit, ginger and fresh rosemary – and an oak aged version alongside a series of whiskeys. The list of botanicals intrigues me – juniper, lemon and grapefruit peel are all pretty usual, but adding ginger should give it a bit of fire, and the rosemary should balance it with a more herbal nose. One of their suggested cocktails is a twist on a Tom Collins which is garnished with thyme leaves.