6 Botanical Gins We’re Loving Right Now
Gin makers take a cue from wine and distill landscapes in a bottle
You’d expect to drink Pinot Noir and discuss terroir, the idea that the climate and land in which grapes are grown impart unique characteristics. But gin? Why not? Instead of fruit, local botanicals–soaked in a still or suspended in baskets above the spirit base as it’s vaporized en route to a condenser–define terroir.
Aside from juniper berries, the general recipe is a blank canvas, says Heather Shade, owner of Port Chilkoot Distillery in Haines, Alaska. Each spring, the former National Park Service biologist gathers budding spruce tips, often less than a mile from her stills, to confer a lemony flavor that pairs with piney juniper. “We want it to taste like Southeast Alaska,” she says. “We harvest mostly from younger trees along the Chilkat River–right before they open up to form branches.” (Port Chilkoot Distillery, 50 Fathoms Gin; 45% ABV; $37)
Almost 2,000 miles away, in downtown Los Angeles, where foraging is rare, the concept of distilled terroir is more abstract. For example, Greenbar Distillery weaves herbs, spices, and other ingredients from the area’s global culinary communities into its City Bright Gin. The result is a melting pot of aromas and flavors that couldn’t be more L.A.