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So many things have their clumsy beginnings—driving a car, doing your taxes, love, changing a diaper, mudding and sanding drywall. The list is relatively inexhaustible.

This could be a clumsy first for me—reviewing gin, that is.

I just don’t drink gin all that often. But I suppose you knew that already, didn’t you?

It’s not that I don’t appreciate it. There was a time when a careful measure of gin in chilled tonic water and adorned with a fresh lime would be a near-flawless potation at the edge of any summer sunset. But even as tranquil as such scenes were, I never found myself committed to gin in the same ways I’m committed to whisky. Gin just never had a depth or vibrancy about it, at least not enough that I felt drawn to investigate it. The better known gins—Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, or Hendrick’s—I employed them all. But even so, until today, I remained relatively certain of gin’s charmless and settled form.

It was Albert Camus who suggested that charm is what’s needed for getting a yes without asking a question. It was Ambrose Bierce who mused that being certain means being mistaken at the top of one’s voice. It was John Stuart Mill who offered that all good things in existence are fruits of originality.

The rudimentary bells of these three statements tolled my foolishness with the first take of the Cask Strength Bourbon Barrel Gin from Tommyrotter Distilleries.

The nose of this spirit affirms Camus’ perspective. Indeed, charm has her way of getting through and stealing an affirming nod. This particular edition gives charming tracks of spicy licorice root, burnt sugar, and barely a hint of oak. Of course there’s the typical pine-like aroma because of the juniper berries—or more properly, the berry-like seed cones—which are standard to gin production. But the familiarity of the scent is anything but typical. The nose of this gin is crisp, almost cold. In my wandering mind, it betrays a vast and untouched pine forest, one with snow covered hills just beginning the transition to spring.

Charming, indeed. I could live in a place like that. I could sit and sniff this gin on the front porch of a little cabin in a place like that, too. I wouldn’t even need to drink it.

Ah, but I would experience the desire to consume it, because the palate is now carrying me into Bierce’s words. I say this because just as this gin began to come to life with a more distinctive barrel spice, wintry juniper, and maybe even a little bit of lemon pepper, I was immediately reminded of the fact that at one point in my distilled spirits journey, I was all but shouting that I would never discover a Bourbon worthy of cleaning my toilet let alone drinking for enjoyment, and yet over the course of the years I’ve happened upon so many that I truly adore. A sip from this gin is an invitation to remember that there are plenty of enchanting doors in life that are yet to be opened. This gin is one of those doors.

The finish, just shy of being medium in length, insists that we agree with Mill’s observation. This is a good gin, one born of originality. It carries along at its end in a way that rejoins its beginning, giving over the root spice and hint of barrel oakiness. It commends itself to you as thoughtful and unique, and it reminds you that it isn’t as you’ve known before. It isn’t Bombay Sapphire. It’s not Tanqueray or Hendrick’s. It’s Tommyrotter. And it’s definitely better.

Having now been seduced into another arena of spirits discovery, I suppose at some point I’ll give Tommyrotter’s American Gin a try. I have to. All the other gins I’ve known are now distant and clumsy beginnings, and something tells me that the Tommyrotter Distillery and its offerings could be a field where any one of us might actually begin a more skillful stride.