The New Gin
Innovative distillers are putting a fresh spin on this classic, often using unexpected botanicals in their creations
BY LESLEY JACOBS SOLMONSON — Spring 2018
Juniper no longer rules the gin game. These days, intrepid distillers throw out tradition in favor of innovation by sourcing unconventional, often local botanicals. Inventive blending and distilling techniques enhance this terroir-driven philosophy, ensuring a gin now exists for everyone. We spotlight five intriguing distilleries reinventing the botanical wheel and producing new tipples you’ll want to try.
Back story: As the founder of brand creation firm Quaker City Mercantile in Philadelphia, Steven Grasse creates, oversees, and develops distinctive niche brands. Interested in exploring the craft spirits realm, he designed and built Tamworth Distilling & Mercantile at the foot of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. The distillery opened in 2015 with distillers Jamie Oakes and Matt Power on board. While Grasse is still active in the company, Oakes and Power, known for their keen interest in locally inspired and sourced spirits, have full creative license.
The terroir-driven Garden Gin line — Apiary, Flora, Spruce, White Mountain, and Wild Hops — changes subtly each year with the rhythms of the local flora. According to Oakes, “When it came to the gins, we looked at what was out there and thought there was a hole in the market for subtle, alternative, botanical gins. Matt and I would go outside at various times of year around our distillery, take a big sniff, and see how we could translate what we were smelling into a spirit.”
Further emphasizing the local terroir, the company sources all its grains from within a 150-mile radius and mills them at the distillery for freshness. The water is drawn from the Ossipee Stratified Aquifer, which sits atop granite bedrock, and the botanicals are locally sourced either from farms, the distillery’s garden, or from hand-foraging.
Philosophy: The distillery’s local, handcrafted approach draws inspiration from the 19th-century Transcendentalist movement, which suggested that art was being compromised by the incursion of mechanization. “The seasonal gin series was really born out of the Art in the Age [a sister company] philosophy — all natural infusions, no fake chemicals, or flavors,” says Oakes.
Newest pour: Released every winter, the Spruce Gin ($55) offers a combination of bright citrus and evergreen from the spruce tips, as well as the warmth of baking spices and a woodsy quality from bay, tarragon, and gentian. Each year’s bottling varies according to the character of the core botanicals.
More info: tamworthdistilling.com
2 ounces Spruce Garden Gin
3/4 ounce simple syrup
3/4 ounce lime juice
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened matcha powder
fresh mint for garnish
Add the ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a mint leaf.