When we heard St. George Spirits would be coming out with three new gins, we immediately called our trusty supplier of delicious boozes, Cask on 3rd St in San Francisco, and got on the waiting list. Conveniently, in addition to the usual 750ml size, these also came out in a 200ml tasting size, ideal for our upcoming trip to visit beloved fellow cocktail nerds Steve and Heather on the other side of the country.
While Raleigh graced us with a delightful bit of actual weather (as opposed to the general pleasantness we endure in San Francisco to the scorn of those with “real” seasons), we broke out tasting glasses and attentively evaluated these newcomers to the gin scene. Thunder rumbling above, we nosed our glasses of the gin by itself, debated flavor profiles, and brainstormed ideal cocktails to test each of the three varieties.
We began, perhaps unadvisedly, with the Dry Rye. St. George describes it thusly:
Dry Rye Gin has twice as much juniper in its recipe as either of the other two St. George gins, and a base of pot-distilled rye that provides structure and spice. Warm bass notes of pepper and caraway give Dry Rye Gin an intriguing depth of flavor, while the rye provides a sweet maltiness reminiscent of a genever. Try our Dry Rye Gin in your favorite cocktails that call for either gin or rye—or sip it straight for a gin experience like no other.
We found to our surprise that this has a sweeter nose than the other two, despite the less sweet grain base. The caraway notes were strong—leading us to taste some aquavit later for comparison—and it was drier on the tongue. Perhaps it’s the reduced sweetness, but you really feel the alcohol in this one. This gin definitely provides a great education in the tempering power of corn in the grain bill of a spirit.
We tried two drinks with the Dry Rye, but to our disappointment neither the Pegu Club nor the Mondays With Aalto (a great drink by Adam Bryan of Austin’s East Side Show Room) worked. In the former, it didn’t hold up to the lime and in the latter the botanicals just didn’t meld well with the other drink ingredients. Our next idea was to try it in a Ramos Gin Fizz, but dinner called and we have yet to make the experiment.
The second gin in the lineup was the Botanivore.
Botanivore Gin (our "botanical eater") earned its name because it's loaded with botanical ingredients. We distilled 19 different botanicals to compose this spirit (no small feat!) and the resulting gin is beautifully balanced and vibrant. Lance compares this gin to an orchestra where all the components are working in harmony. Deliciously herbacious and bright, Botanivore is a versatile addition to any gin cocktail.
This one seemed to call out immediately for a Martini to keep the focus on the flavors within the gin. It’s a very nice gin, a little sharp, and perhaps one note, but we like the note. It seemed to water out a bit in the drink and we thought it might work better in a dirty martini. We also tried it in a Pink Gin, which was okay, not extraordinary. Once again we did not feel we’d found a drink that really showed this one off to its best effect.
The third taste was of the Terroir and it was here that things got really exciting. Dinah, a Bay Area native and quite familiar with the environment which inspired this gin, was very impressed. St. George has absolutely hit the bullseye with this local flavor, saying “It tastes like the New Year’s Day walk in the Franklin Hills when I was a kid.”
Terroir Gin is our ode to the wild beauty of the Golden State. Distiller Lance Winters has a passion for exploring place and memory through distillation, and the aromas of the coastal forests on California's Mount Tam were what inspired him to start making gin in the first place. Terroir Gin has an intense earthy, woodsy nose and flavor derived from Douglas fir, California bay laurel, and California coastal sage—complemented by bright, citrusy top notes. This is a unique and proudly Californian gin with a sense of place and poetry.
The other three agreed that it’s “verrrry nice” and “damned nice.” We tried this in an Aviation and it worked very well indeed. Recommended!