Americans are the founding fathers of gin cocktails, the stoic folk who made bathtub spirits despite prohibition, and their love affair with gin is back!
The spectacular fall from fashion that gin had in the post-war years wasn’t something that happened purely in Britain, our cousins across the pond were equally disenchanted by the spirit. After all its successes in early cocktail making, Jerry Thomas and the golden age of cocktails through to the clandestine yet large scale production of bathtub gin during prohibition, gin had lost its sheen. It became regarded as old fashioned and bland, neither elegant nor desirable.
Fast forward 60 years and American liquor enthusiasts have been thoroughly inspired by the international gin resurgence. America is now in the top 5 gin consuming countries and creates a massive variety of gins. With innovative distillation methods, unusual botanicals and even a brand new classification of gin, America truly is an exciting place for any gin enthusiast.
One of the first new gins to come out of America this century is Bluecoat American Dry Gin, a soft and aromatic gin that never loses sight of either key citrus tones nor juniper. Its name represents the distillers’ break away from London Dry style gin in much the same way as the original Bluecoats left Britain and its traditions during the American Revolution. Bluecoat has opened the floodgates for new style, American gins, its popularity showing that gin could move away from the dominance of juniper and be as, if not more, appealing to people than traditional gins.
Aviation American Gin, the first gin in American history to be distilled as part of a collaboration between a bartender and a distiller, went even further than Bluecoat. Juniper is still an important element of the gin but it is more of a botanical democracy - the piney flavours are an important element but other botanicals can be heard just as clearly. It is smooth and dry with vanilla, sarsaparilla and wonderfully floral notes. The juniper creates a solid foundation to the gin but never overpowers any of the other flavours. Aviation is a deliciously modern gin, simply perfect for making cocktails.
This idea of upping the botanicals that aren’t juniper in gin has become entrenched in American gin production to the extent that it has become a new style of gin - New Western. Using locally sourced and inspired botanicals, lowering the juniper content and using different spirits as a base, New Western gins are a large and formal step away from traditional and dry gins. Smooth Ambler’s Greenbrier Gin is a prime example of this with its base being made from 68% corn, 16% wheat and 16% malted barley and has been heavily influenced by its surroundings. In terms of its taste - wonderful! Dry and citrusy with black pepper and pine.
Another fashionable feature of American gins is barrel aging; whilst not strictly speaking a new idea (back in the 17th century gin would be stored in casks and as time went by, would take on some flavour from this) it’s becoming more popular with many brands barrel aging their standard gin to add to their product line. FEW Spirits, for example, age their American Gin in the same barrels as they use for their bourbon, filling a great gin with wonderfully smoky overtones. FEW Barrel Gin is a fantastically interesting spirit, taking the best of the gin and whisky worlds with it.
American gins are incredibly exciting, each location really gives something of itself to the gin that it produces and the move away from traditional, juniper led gins opens up a whole new world of spirits to us!
So expand your horizons with some American Gins today.
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