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Todd Hardie began his career in beekeeping almost 50 years ago in Hardwick, Vermont, in the heart of the Northeast Kingdom. This part of the state is an agricultural hotbed focused on honey, milk, cheese, grains, and herbs with a strong focus on community and respect for the earth. With family distilling roots going back to the 1800s (John and William Hardie of Edinburgh started distilling whiskey in 1857, and the company still produces whiskey today), it’s no wonder that the current generation of Hardies began crafting artisanal spirits in this corner of the world. The Barr Hill Gin contains one notable ingredient that truly sets this spirit apart: raw honey. The raw honey is added just before bottling giving it a uniquely wild, floral nose that changes with each batch as the season dictates where the bees collect their pollen and propolis. It is a touch sweet and the juniper is well-integrated which makes this a unique crossover spirit for those unfamiliar with gin and a new frontier for those already initiated. Tim Gagnon
A recent arrival to the US market! Named for the rural area outside of London in where the distillery is located, Cotswolds Gin went into production in 2014. Nine botanicals undergo 18-hour maceration in a base distillate of wheat and these include juniper, coriander, bay, fresh citrus peel, and black pepper, among others. It is beautifully aromatic – juniper heavy, with cool overtones of balsam, mint, rosemary, cucumber, and lime – but maintains a classic, dry profile on the palate with added lift seemingly from the fresh citrus peel. Green herbs and black pepper creep in on the finish. Very balanced and long, this makes a killer Martini, and it is also un-chillfiltered so it clouds up when cold! Tim Gagnon
Ford’s Gin is a collaboration between Simon Ford of the 86 Co. (a company founded in 2012 working with different distilleries to create bartender-friendly, well-made, workhorse spirits) and 8th generation Master Distiller Charles Maxwell of Thames Distillers in London. It was intended to be a big step up from the other “well” spirits available on the market but offer a fantastic value. Their recipe uses 9 botanicals starting with the classic base of coriander seed and juniper with bitter orange, lemon, and grapefruit peel balanced by jasmine flower, orris root, angelica root, and cassia root. These are steeped in the base spirit for 15 hours before being distilled ensuring a captivating, aromatic finished spirit. This gin is a wonderful play of exotic and spicy aromas mingling with open floral notes on the nose. The palate is full-bodied and dry with citrus oil and a tantalizing spice. This would be perfect for the home mixologist as it could be the base for numerous cocktails. Tim Gagnon
This bottle represents the Gin obsession of Brooklyn native Steven DeAngelo. His distillery is located in the once industrial, now artisanal, north-Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint. Here he uses a still with vacuum technology that allows distillation to occur at a lower temperature. This cooler process results in a gin with surprisingly fresh aromatics and a very bright green coriander note. These flavors are very well expressed in a gin and tonic, but also work well with other herbal spirits like Amaro. John Rankin
This is what I would call a new American classic. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but seemingly pays homage to some London Dry gins that we all know and love, while adding a little something extra. The base spirit is distilled from organic corn, and although all the ingredients aren’t listed, they include crushed juniper berries, lavender, fresh lemon, and orange peels with balancing botanicals of licorice root, angelica root, coriander, and cardamom. On the nose it opens incredibly bright with a citrusy, peppery kick. With time, aromas of blossom, celery, and anise come forward. The palate shows wonderful restraint and allows the roots to balance everything out with a warming cinnamon-like spice, a hint of citrus, and a long, woodsy finish. This would work in almost any gin-based cocktail imaginable (I’d prefer a Martini), and is also fantastic sipped neat. Tim Gagnon
Xoriguer gin hails from Mahon on the island of Menorca in Spain and one of only three gins (along with Plymouth Gin and London Dry Gin) to have a geographic designation. Gin has a rich history on Menorca dating back to British occupation during the 18th century and is still made with the same traditional methods. This gin is made in wood-fired pot stills from a base spirit of grape distillate (as opposed to the more common grain-based distillate) and is rested in American oak barrels before bottling. This process gives this spirit decidedly fruity and floral aromatics as well as a softer, citrusy palate. For lovers of gin and tonics, try this for your next experiment! Tim Gagnon
And now for something completely different… Our friends at New York Distilling under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway are making some of New York’s most delicious gins. The Dorothy Parker, named for the legendarily sharp-tongued wit of New York’s Algonquin Round Table, boasts decidedly American style with un-traditional botanicals like hibiscus and cinnamon. Of course we are talking gin here, so there’s a nice dry juniper kick as well. I think that this makes for a very interesting twist on a gin and tonic. More adventurous home bartenders may want to use it to give the classic gin cocktails a new angle. John Rankin