Swill is our bi-monthly column dedicated to liquor, wine, beer, and every other delicious dram that falls under the broader umbrella of booze. But it’s more than just tasting notes scribbled on a cocktail napkin — Swill is about getting outside of your comfort zone, trying new things, and exploring the big, wide world of libations. One week you might catch us halfway through a bottle of single-malt scotch, and the week after that we might be buzzing on some Ugandan moonshine made from bananas. This column is just one big boozy adventure, so grab yourself a glass and join us for another round.
In my opinion, the advent of American- or New Western-style gin is one of the most exciting developments to hit the booze scene in recent memory. In case you haven’t noticed, gin has been experiencing a sort of renaissance over the past decade or so. Slowly but surely, distillers have broken free from the categorical boundaries of “dry gin,” and are now expanding what the spirit can be.
In other words, gin isn’t just about juniper anymore. Sure, juniper berry is and always will be one of the predominant ingredients in gin, but nowadays artisan distillers are inviting other botanicals into the mix.
One of the most exciting gins in this new category comes from a newborn distillery in Brooklyn: Greenhook Ginsmiths. Using a vapor distillation technique traditionally used by perfumeries, these guys have somehow managed to tease out some of the most pronounced floral and spice flavors i’ve ever encountered in a gin.
To be fair, lots of these Western-style gin distillers use adventurous botanical blends to achieve their own unique flavor profile, but most tend to feature exotic flavors in extremely minute –and often imperceptible– amounts. Greenhook, however, doesn’t let juniper steal the show.
The supporting cast is what really makes this gin shine. Juniper is there, but ceylon cinnamon, elderflower, and chamomile are arguably just as pronounced. Underneath, you’ll find subtle notes of orange, ginger, and orris root, which help to round the gin out and make it wonderfully complex. The Wall Street Journal called it “One of the boldest, most interesting gins out there,” and I couldn’t agree more.
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