As everyone is well aware, whiskey has taken the country by storm. But gin is beginning to catch up. This is in no small part due to the fact that many new distilleries are producing gin so they’ll have something to sell during the years it takes their new-make whiskey to age. And they take it seriously, putting thought and creativity into their gin expressions. Other distilleries are producing gin just because, well, it’s a classic and essential spirit for so many cocktails and there’s endless room for experimentation with flavor, barrel aging, types of base spirits and more. This is a list of some of the best new gins available right now or that will be widely available in the very near future.
Portland, Oregon’s House Spirits Distillery has released this new barrel-aged gin ($50) that’s currently only available at the distillery’s tasting room but set to hit markets around the country later this year. The distillery has taken its excellent, dry Aviation American gin and aged it in first-fill Westward Oregon straight malt whiskey barrels for a year. The color is a light yellowish-brown, and the flavor is citrusy, juniper-forward, mild and slightly sweet. This gin drinks well in any cocktail but is especially good on the rocks.
This new limited-release gin ($40) from Louisville’s Copper & Kings distillery, an operation that’s better known for making brandy in the heart of whiskey country, is the oddest of the bunch, but it’s adventurous and unique Alley Cat is another barrel-aged gin—22 months in a Kentucky bourbon barrel—but this particular spirit has an apple brandy base. The liquid is creamy and piney, with hints of citrus and apple popping through. While you can definitely use this in a cocktail, it seems almost a waste not to drink this liqueur-like spirit neat.
Woody Creek Distillers touts its Colorado gin ($37) as being a combination of classic London dry and what it calls New World gin. That’s an accurate assessment, as this potato-based spirit is infused with juniper, lemongrass, coriander, lavender and cranberries, among other botanicals. It’s a lovely dry gin that still has a refreshingly floral character layered underneath the slight spice. The Rocky Mountain State has truly come into its own as a distilling destination, and Woody Creek is keeping pace with the competition.
Yet another barrel-aged gin has hit the scene, this time from Chicago’s all-organic-everything distillery, Koval Distillery (kosher-certified, by the way), for $50. This is the same as the distillery’s dry gin, but it’s been sitting in Koval whiskey barrels for about six months. As is the case with most barrel-aged gin, the result is subtle but notable, with a hint of wood and sweetness that complements the inherent floral notes quite nicely. For now, it’s only available in Illinois, but market expansion is on the horizon.
Boston’s Bully Boy Distillers is New England proud and as such has created a new gin ($25) that’s built upon an apple base. Neutral grain spirit is blended with apple spirit, which is distilled from fellow Massachusetts cohorts’ Stormalong Cider. For flavoring, along with juniper, the distillery adds pink peppercorn and hibiscus. The building blocks here are traditional; the methodology and end result are not. But the gin is bold, tasty and full of local New England character.
FEW Spirits’ new Breakfast gin ($40) seems destined to make morning drinking socially acceptable beyond the brunch Bloody Mary and Mimosa. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration (or wishful thinking, depending on your stamina for day drinking), but this Earl Grey–tea-infused gin is light, fragrant and bright, perfectly suited for a classic Martini or more modern cocktail. Lemon peel and juniper also jump out, which makes sense, as those are the other botanicals used to flavor the spirit.