With the rise of craft distilling in America inevitably comes a wave of rebellion against the traditional way of things. Case in point: Leave it to us Americans to take the juniper-bomb London Dry Gins of yesteryear and turn them on their head. Distilleries like 209, Brooklyn Gin and Greenhook are pumping out gorgeous new styles of Gin using juniper berries as a connective tissue if-you-will to enhance other botanicals, as opposed to juniper acting as the dominant flavor component. As is also the case with the rise of craft spirits, the “big guys” love to come around and make their presence in these new niche markets well known. As a devoted Gin drinker, here are five of my favorite status-quo abolishing gins, including a few from the giants and a few regional craft offerings. P.S. “Western-style” can be used to describe any Gin where juniper is not the overwhelmingly dominant flavor. P.P.S. You could say that Western Gins aren’t technically Gins at all, as by law a Gin must have juniper as the “main characteristic flavor,” according to the Federal Government’s Beverage Alcohol Manual. Oooooh, sneaky!
1. Hendrick’s | Hendrick’s Gin | Scotland
Okay okay, although technically one of the “big guys,” no article on Western-style Gins would be complete without mentioning Hendrick’s. Hendrick’s has challenged the notion that Gin should have a strong, juniper-forward flavor profile from day one. This spirit has earned a cult following thanks to refreshing cucumber and rose petal notes up front and a myriad of other delectable floral notes on the finish. Hendrick’s Gin is a great intro into the worlds of both Gin in general and Western Gins.
2. Tanqueray No. 10 | Tanqueray Gin | England originally, now made in Scotland
This is a perfect example of a big-budget, traditionally London Dry brand offering a modern take on the traditional to keep up with changing times. Supposedly made in their No. 10 experimental still with fresh citrus, Tanqueray No. 10 definitely delivers a lighter, more approachable flavor profile than that of the original. This, along with Hendrick’s, is one of my favorite spirits to keep on hand.
3. Aviation | Aviation Gin | Portland, OR
Aviation was one of the original American craft distilleries to offer a Western-style Gin. Using notoriously hard-to-get-it-right botanicals such as lavender, Aviation paints a picture of their native Pacific Northwest in every bottle. Their proprietary mix of botanical makes a great Martini or G & T.
4. American Dry Gin | Greenhook Ginsmiths | Brooklyn, New York
Greenhook’s American Dry Gin is something of a hybrid between a London Dry and Western-style Gin. Lush and aromatic botanicals like elderflower and chamomile get you on the nose and up front, followed by spicy cracked black peppercorn and a generous dose of both cinnamon and juniper notes to round everything out. A unique, attention-grabbing Gin to try. I also recommend picking up their Beach Plum Gin Liqueur – great for champagne cocktails or drizzling over gelato.
5. Brooklyn Gin | Brooklyn, New York
Brooklyn Gin is another delicious and ultra-refreshing citrus-forward Gin. By using 100% fresh citrus peels – cut by hand before every distillation – and freshly cracked juniper berries, the makers of this addictively juicy spirit help to solidify Brooklyn as a major hub for American craft distilling. Good enough to drink on it’s own, or with a splash of tonic.
Give one of these non-traditional Gins a try in your next cocktail. And be sure to share snaps of your drinks with the hashtag #Distillerista. Cheers!