By John Barecki
The world of American craft spirits in the last few years has been churning out some pretty amazing stuff, from single malt whiskey to absinthe. St. George's Spirits out of Alameda, California has been pressing the issue since it's conception in 1982, starting from something this imbiber sadly is not too familiar with, Eau de vie, fruit based brandy that is notoriously hard to make.
It all began with Jorg Rupf, a native of Germany. Rupf came to America to work and was completely blown away by the food culture and the availability of fresh top quality materials. Inspired by the quality of fruit in the Californian orchards, Jorg took his old school knowledge of Eau de vie distilling and started to write his own symphony for the palate, and the rest, as they say, is history.
These three St. George gins I will lay out are prime examples of what the right combination of history and raw materials can become. The Botanivore is the first on this journey. This, for the most part, is similar to the London dry style of gin. One of the fun things about gin is the alchemy of extracting the essential oils from all the produce. Flavors in this gin range from black peppercorn and coriander to even citra hops. It has a fresh Herbaceous character in the nose, floral, citrus peel and a slight sweetness.
The second is the Dry Rye, a curious one using a high rye content in the mash causing a malty backbone similar to a Genever (the precursor to gin). Big juniper sets the tone followed by a peppery spiciness, nice savory herb and fruit qualities brings up the rear. This is a great one to experiment with in place of whisky in mixed drinks.
The last selection is the wonderfully flavorful Terroir. Using a generous handful of plant life from the California woodlands, this elixir conjures up sitting in the middle of a fir forest. Douglas fir and sage start it off, very herbaceous on the palate, zesty lemon and lime accompany a dry but lingering finish. This one really threw me for a loop. It's a gin with a story within itself.
All of these gins pack a lot of character into each bottle. Even for unseasoned gin drinkers, they are a treat for the senses. I definitely recommend a least checking out the available sample pack to see what all the fuss is about.
These gins are available at Siciliano's Market at $36.99/750ml each or $29.97 for the 200ml three pack.