The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2016

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DEPARTMENT HEADER august 2016  /  the tasting panel  /  97 California's Bounty, Explored: Gin from Distillery No. 209 When it comes to American-made gin, Distillery No. 209 has built a considerable creative lead that will be extremely challenging for the competition to catch. The esteemed line of gins is the brainchild of industry veteran Leslie Rudd, former owner of Dean & DeLuca and founder of the Rudd Oakville Estate winery in Napa Valley. His only advice to his master distiller— Arne Hillesland—was to not make his grandfather's gin, meaning one not overtly juniper-forward. What Hillesland deliv- ered was anything but conventional. Those gin aficionados searching for a piney, London dry experi- ence will need to look elsewhere: No. 209 Gin ($35) marches to the beat of different drummer. It's crystal clear with a light- weight, satiny textured body and a citrus and spice laced bouquet with dry evergreen notes following right behind. It has a dry, lovely fruit palate and a long, citrus finish. The range also features No. 209 Chardonnay Barrel Reserve Gin ($55). It's a long name, but it's easy to drink. Following distillation, the gin is placed in French oak casks that were used previously to age Edge Hill Estate Bacigalupi Chardonnay and other Napa Valley estate- produced Chardonnays. The gin will remain in the barrel for up to four months, during which it develops a straw-like appearance and buttery aromas. The flavor of the original gin is most prevalent during the mid-palate. The lingering finish is slightly tangy, slightly fruity. It, too, deserves to be tasted neat or with a slight chill. "The Chardonnay Barrel Reserve Gin still retains a great deal of the character of the original gin," states Distillery No. 209 President Jeff Hodson. "However, its flavor does blur the line between gin, fortified wine and even white whisky. It's quite amazing to see how the gin picks up nuances from not only the oak barrel, but from the grape varietal that formerly called the barrel home. It's truly a 'wine drinker's gin' and perfect for those consum- ers looking for something out of the ordinary." The No. 209 Cabernet Sauvignon Barrel Reserve Gin ($55) is aged in French oak barrels used previously to age the Rudd Oakville Estate Red, a blend composed predomi- nantly of Cabernet Sauvignon. The distillery's namesake gin is put into the casks for a minimum of six months. The result is a spirited tour de force. The No. 209 Cabernet Sauvignon Barrel Reserve Gin has a deep, red/ copper hue, a medium-weight, vel- vety textured body and an expansive bouquet featuring the aromas of roses, citrus, spice, vanilla, caramel and toasted oak. Like most complex spirits, this gin benefits greatly from some extra time breathing in the glass. Your patience will be rewarded tenfold. The final member of the trio is No. 209 Sauvignon Blanc Barrel Reserve Gin ($55). It is aged for up to three months in ex–Sauvignon Blanc casks sourced from Rudd Oakville Estate. One of the distillery's talented staff mixologists has devised a marvelous and thoroughly refreshing cocktail, The Sultana. Mixologist Suzanne Miller notes that the drink is complex and does an admirable job showcasing the beauty and singular flavor of the Chardonnay Barrel Reserve Gin. We must concur. aficionados textured a slightly fruity. be tasted slight states 209 Hodson. its the fortified even It's Cabernet and oak. most spirits, will tenfold. of Sauvignon Barrel ($55). up ex–Sauvignon Sultana by Suzanne Miller, No. 209 Mixologist ◗ 2 oz. No. 209 Chardonnay Barrel Reserve Gin ◗ 5 fresh red grapes ◗ Handful fresh mint leaves ◗ ½ oz. simple syrup (2:1) ◗ 2 oz. Champagne Add all ingredients except the Champagne in an empty mixing glass and muddle contents thoroughly. Add ice and shake thoroughly and finely strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add Champagne and garnish with fresh mint leaves.

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