Tag Archives: Contemporary Gin

Conniption Gin & Navy Strength – Durham Distillery NC


Conniption Gin

Juniper juicy orange and coriander coat your mouth with the first sip of Conniption American Dry Gin. As you continue drinking spice notes emerge, peppers a bit of cardamom and a fresh lightness smooths out the finish. Cucumber and flowery notes perhaps?

The distillery appears to use a two-step method including individual vacuum distillation of some of the more delicate botanicals.

Durham Distillery Still Images

I added an ice cube and the spicy freshness opened even up more, a bit of a bitter aftertaste when ice was added but nothing a bit of botanical forward vermouth cannot remedy in a perfect martini with a twist.

Trekking on to the Navy Strength Conniption gin, I did a bit of assumption before I opened the bottle. Likely a bit more botanical concentration at 114 proof and hopefully not too much of a bite but as I read through the back of the bottle it seems a slightly different botanical bill was used in the Naval Strength version and I set out to explore. Bartenders love love love higher proof gins done right.  Their base gin is used as a platform, adding caraway, rosemary and even vacuum distilled fig?

Sweet cardamom and pepper on the nose, I got the caraway right away as a massive fan of aquavit, with a soft heat rounding out the finish. Added ice to the mix which didn’t amplify it immediately but as it melted the slight dilution mellowed out the spirit into a rather nice sipping gin.


Out of Durham, North Carolina don’t pass up this modern southern treat


Uncle Val’s Gin – Month of Gin

Sometime you slip into a spirit and you know its going to fit like a glove. A menagerie of layers that excite your palate with every sip. Meet the 3 Badge Mixology Uncle Val’s Gin Portfolio; Botanical, Restorative and Peppered gin. All three gins showcase a spectrum of Contemporary style gin, masterfully distilled.

Uncle Vals Event Photo

Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin 

Layered with citrus, lavender, sage and pine notes and cucumber this gin is anything but ordinary. I call this gin a cocktail in a bottle. Pour this gin over ice and a bouquet of flavors await you, or try it in a Val’s Porch from The Gin Room combined with lavender bitters, lemon and simple sugar syrup.

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Uncle Val’s Restorative Gin 

Citrus and crisp pepper on the nose, this gin has juniper, coriander, cucumbers and rose petals but in a very different format than the botanical gin. More mellow and extensively mixable this gin combines savory and a light soft sweetness to create a balanced spirit.

Uncle Val’s Peppered Gin

No. It’s not what you think. It’s much much better. Vegetable red bell pepper notes, bold almost agave like character with a smooth hint of smokiness. I’ve been blown away by the creativity this gin sparks in my fellow bartenders. I got to make a fantastic carrot based Bloody Mary {Red Snapper} with it at Tales of the Cocktail this year, with a hint of spice and sweetness that made it addictive.


Barrel Aging Uncle Vals Use 2

Soooo, those of you who know me, know of my obsession with barrel aged gin. I’m hooked.  A few years ago I took to my own experimenting and picked out gins with distinctive flavor profiles to be manipulated by the process of barrel aging. Barrel Aged Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin is one of the masterpieces.  Aged for 7 weeks in single use un-charred oak barrels, the bold citrus of the gin mellowed out a bit and created a more pronounced spark to each and every botanical in the gin. Bold yet mellow, this gin is to be sipped and savored straight or over a rock with a twist.

3 Badge Mixology

Now let me tell you about this company, 3 Badge Mixology. Yes I did swoon over Uncle Val’s Botanical but it was the people behind this company that made me fall in love. Imagine a company that seeks out the best distillers, the best ingredients and the best product and packaged it all into a portfolio you are proud to promote. I met the distiller of this wonderful spirit, a women of great many talent I came to learn {She is a pilot and chemist and engineer oh my!….} and picked her brain on every element of it. This spirit was no accident, well thought out and deliberately fantastic.

Tales of the Cocktail

This year I made my maiden voyage into the extraordinary insanity that is Tales of the Cocktail New Orleans. I wandered there by way of 3 Badge Spirits and this exceptional team of human beings {Bartenders of course!}. We rocked out a daunting number of cocktails, serving over 1,800 guests and having the time of our lives. Each one of them was brought together for the passion and overall love for the hospitality world. They say 3 badge beverage corporation is built upon a philosophy of commitment and craftsmanship. In my experience so far I would be apt to believe them.

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Koval Gins – Month of Gin

Koval was one of the first distilleries to launch in Chicago producing organic whiskey from grain-to-bottle in traditional and non traditional single grain single barrel expressions. Their still is a beast and a beauty with copper column that will impress by sheer size and presence let alone the spirits they produce.

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Koval Gin 

But we are here to talk about the gin.

Grain to bottle as their whiskey’s, this beautifully herbal and floral gin commands a presence. Most interesting, I found this gin is distilled from rye, spicy, creamy boastful rye. This gin has a meaty mouth-feel, bold with herbaceous and floral notes at the nose. Rose hip, savory herbs, juniper, angelica and enveloped with a bit of citrus this gin will make you want to taste it, over and over.

The distinctive label on their gin has also garnered a lot of attention. The bottle features an intricate, laser-cut design created for Koval by Sonat’s sister and her firm Dando Projects and has won numerous design awards.

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Koval Barrel Aged Gin 

Open up this bottle of graciously aged gin and you will open up a gem. Bold layers of savory, citrus and pine this barreled expression of Koval gin will open your palate to the wonderful complexities that can come from a bold, grain forward gin. This rye based gin is aged for upwards of six month is used Koval Bourbon Barrels, likely adding the slightly sweet vanilla notes on the finish.

Whiskey lovers pick up this gin and try it in an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan, or better yet try it over a rock with a lemon twist and you will not be disappointed.

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I got the pleasure to meet the woman distiller behind this rock star gin. Sonat Hart and her husband Richard Birnecker uprooted their lives from their professorial careers in Washington, DC to move back to their home town of Chicago to launch this award winning distillery. The Birneckers have carved out a unique niche showing off the attributes of each individual grain in it’s element at 100% rather than in blends, giving you a glimpse into its distinct flavor profile that you cannot not getting from a blended mash bill.

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Anchor Distilling Gin – Month of Gin

Established in 1993 out of San Francisco, California Anchor Distilling Company is a producer and importer of a wide collection of spirits and four uniquely standout range of gins with a focus on 17th & 18th century methods and styles.

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Anchor Junipero Gin

My first look into Anchor Distilling was through their flagship Junipero gin that I fell in love with while working at a gin bar in Washington DC. Known for it’s bold juniper forward character, this gin can shine in any tonic and add structure to your cocktail. Herbaceous, juniper forward, bold baking spices with a crisp finish, this gin is for gin lovers.

Anchor Genevieve Genever

I have a weakness for the Dutch Holland born spirit that is Genever. A bridge between the malt goodness of whiskey and the botanical haven of gin, this spirit is generally distilled from barley malt, rye and wheat grain mash.

Genevieve Genever is made in that 17th century style, with barley, wheat  and rye malt distilled with botanicals in a pot still. You can smell the dominant nose the moment you open the bottle, I call it “Distillers Cologne” smelling of fresh sour mash. The palate is spicy, bold with rye and barley grain notes with a dancing of the same botanicals found in their Junipero gin yet espressed quite differently in this malt based spirit. Genevers were called for in the original cocktails, but the spirit is best enjoyed straight or chilled and can often be

Anchor Old Tom Gin

Anchor’s Old Tom gin is one of their newer products in their portfolio and in the tradition of Old Tom gins it has an element of sweetness in it, this version has traditional sweeteners of star anise and licorice root as well as Stevia, natural sweetener. This gin was a salute to Captain Dudley Bradstreet that created a funnel in the form of a cat that distributed illicit gin during prohibition. As patrons put money in the cat’s mouth and the gin would be poured from a pipe under the cat’s paw.

You can taste the sweet licorice and star anise in this classic rendition of an old tom gin, perfect in a Martinez or a medley of other classic cocktails calling for a slightly softer gin.

Berry Bros and Rudd No. 3 Gin

When I first met the beautiful bottle that is No. 3 London Dry Gin I wanted to swoon. I did swoon. Then happily sipped it into the evening calling it my favorite gin of 2015. This gin is what I call an epitome of a sipping gin. The name No.3 refers to the address in St James’s Street, London: their home since 1698.

Warm spice noted flow through this gin with orange and grapefruit peel, cardamom, coriander, angelica root and a bit of lavender and pine they suggest stems from the juniper. Drink this gin neat, or chilled with a orange bitter and citrus zest and you will find yourself a contented consumer.

The Tour

I had the pleasure of visiting the distillery of Anchor Distilling this past spring and was lucky to find distiller Kendra and Kevin on premise.

I got to pick their brains on why they chose to focus on  17th & 18th century spirits and the concepts behind their standout spirits.

Anchor Distilling has 3 copper pot stills and just bought a new large Scottish still to add to their dynamic.

Anchor Distilling at Gin Festival 2016

Anchor Distilling at Gin Festival 2016

Journeyman Gins – Month of Gin

Bill Welter at Journeyman

When you meet Bill Welter you know you are about to have an experience. Seemingly quite, this bearded booze guru will  make you rethink how you drink.

You have likely already falling in love with their Whiskeys, Corset’s Whips and Whiskey and their Last Feather Rye are a few of our favorites name after the abandoned corset factory that was the building that now houses Journeyman Distillery.

I has the opportunity to visit their new digs in Three Oaks, Michigan and gush over their shiny new stills and columns and get my hands deep into a vat of Bilberries, of the gins namesake.

Journeyman gin image


Journeyman Gin 

Light crisp citrus on the front with light pepper notes and a custardy mouth feel on the finish. Perfect for a classic Aviation cocktail.

Journeyman Barrel Aged Gin 

Strongly on the oak side of the barrel aged gin spectrum, this gin is bold on the wood and glimpses of the botanicals shining through. Whiskey lovers try this bold whiskey-esk gin on a rock or mixed up in a Martinez or Old Fashioned spin.

Bill Welter 2015

No. 209 Gin & Chardonnay Barrel Gin – Month of Gin Double Take

Last spring I had the opportunity to visit the west coast and the outstanding distillers in the San Francisco Bay area but I had no idea how much I would learn.

209 Rocket Centry

Mid Century Modern Vintage Barware and Furnishings Provided by Rocket Century 

I had always had a natural affinity towards No. 209 gin. Crisp citrus without over whelming the spirit, light bright cardamom, juniper , orange and baking spices. I even had a guest at the Gin Room that traveled from across Europe searching for No 209 gin as they were told by a trusted bartender that it was the only gin that could satisfy their gin interest. Interesting to see how far people will travel for something standout.

We arrived at Distillery No. 209, built over water and positioned directly at sea level on renovated pier 50, the natural cooling properties of San Francisco Bay water beneath the pier keeps the distillery at a perfectly crisp temperature all year long.  Distillery 209 has a rich history dating back to the late 1800’s when wine maker William Scheffler began to dabble in the world of spirit distilling in under the distillery licence number 209. Food and wine entrepreneur Leslie Rudd purchased the property in 1999, and began the revival of what is now No. 209 Gin.

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This is where the Gin Girl was impressed. Operating as a one man show, Distillery No. 209 is run by the lovely engineer turned distiller Arne Hillesland and his gorgeous pot still “Rosie” a 1000 gallon beauty of a copper still. Arne himself is a wealth of information and a first mover in world of contemporary gin, elevating the concept of what gin can be gin when only a couple hand fulls of gins were out there. Not only taking the risk of distilling gin and only gin years ago when gin was a mere dot on the spirit map, but also took the risk to spread this wonderful contemporary gin around the world by exporting to London and Europe.

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Arne spoke at a gin seminar Juniper Ascending put together by Ginnoisseur Keli Rivers at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans earlier this month with other innovators; Beefeater’s Desmond Payne, Aviation Gin’s Christian Krogstad and Alexander Gabriel of Mason Ferrand’s Citadelle Gin. Was a honor to be in the presence of such trailblazers.

Arny 209 at Tales

No. 209 gin is a corn based spirit which likely adds to its creamier mouth feel, but the most exciting part of No. 209 gin is the quality of the botanical’s used. I can say I had tried quite a few gins and sifted though a health dose of juniper, but the bright juicy berry-esk of the Italian juniper used in No. 209 gin caught me off guard. I wanted to take a bowl with me and treat them as a snack. Arne’s “Bot Cave” held other robust botanical gems including black cardamom, cassia bark and Bergamont orange. We couldn’t get enough of our visit.

After all my adventures through the Bot Cave and distillation, my real excitement was revealed when I noticed their barrel aged gins gathered in a corner. Three varieties taking advantage of their winery roots including aging in Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Barrels.

Barrel 209

The chardonnay aged gin was an immediate standout, from the medium body, lingering pine notes and a perfect balance of warm spice, citrus and savory. Enough body for mixing and light nuances for sipping straight.  The mellow French oak of the chardonnay barrels allows the botanical’s to shine sharper, light pine and savory lavender, a bit of crisp warm spice from the cardamom, bright pepper and citrus lingers through the finish. A solid barrel aged gin and gin girl favorite of the three No 209 aged gins.




The Walter Collective Gin – Month of Gin

Sometime you meet a gin and it is serendipity. Over and over.

Walter Collective Tales

I had the pleasure of meeting a bottle of the Walter Collective gin after teaching a gin seminar at the American Distillers conference earlier this year. It was passed to me in this beautiful gift set box and looked pretty fancy. Lately packaging has been bolder and bolder in the world of gin and spirits, often without as much care and dedication taken to the contents of the bottle.

A month went by and I finally had a Wednesday afternoon to take a sip and was instinctively happy. Walter Collective gin was definitely in the contemporary gin category but created a distinctive character for itself. Light crisp citrus, cool menthol notes and cardamom that gave body and layering but without overpowering the gin. I was excited to share this gin and that is exactly what I did… straight out of the bottle.

Monkey Lamp


And then we met again, this time at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans; sitting in Arnaud’ French 75 Bar surrounded by gin, monkey lamps and some of my favorite industry socialites.  Matt Melaik, founder and grandson of Walter Bade, the inspiration of the Walter collective was to my left and somehow recognized the Gin Girl through the wonderful chaos that is the French Quarter. And again that wonderfully layered gin was passed through our hand and into our martini glasses. A toast to good friends, great gin and outstanding and chance meetings.

Walter Collective gin use

Mid Century Modern Vintage Barware and Furnishings Provided by Rocket Century 

This Gin is not yet distributed in our area, but I would suggest seeking out a bottle for your personal collection.

Martini and Gin & Tonic worthy.