What is gin? When I tell people that come through my bar that gin is a flavored vodka they look at me like I’m crazy. But it’s true! Vodka is a neutral grain spirit distilled as many times as people want in order to make it as odorless and flavorless as possible. Gin is the same neutral grain spirit infused with Juniper Berries.
Where the first use of Juniper berries came from in unclear, but gin seems to have sprung up from Jenever, a spirit distilled from malt wine and made palatable by the addition of Juniper, which was also added for medicinal reasons.
No matter where it started, gin is not gin without the addition of Juniper berries, and even though juniper can be found somewhere on every continent, in the U.S., we like to think of it as something southwestern. We have to deal with Juniper allergies more than almost everyone else, why not claim them as our own?
However, and no offense to those gins that are distilled only with Juniper (of which there are probably few), Juniper can be BORING! There needs to be something else to add to the gin, to give it something unique. With so many craft distilleries cropping up these days, no one can afford to be boring.
Santa Fe Spirits decided to make what we call a “western-inspired” gin. Starting with Juniper, we also add Osha Root (a northern New Mexican root that is used medicinally as well as to ward off rattlesnakes), Cholla Cactus Blossoms (these we hand pick during the 3 weeks a year that they bloom), Cascade Hops (one of the few strains of hops that can survive here, to give it a bit of citrus!), and White Sage (because what’s more western than sage?). This gin downplays the strength of the Juniper a bit and allows all five of the botanicals to shine through. At the tasting room, you can smell each botanical individually while you taste, allowing you to really see what each one contributes to the spirit.
Try it, what have you got to lose?