Local Wine Co's Blog

New Gin Category – AMERICAN DRY by cdbakunas
February 7, 2012, 2:05 pm
Filed under: Food and Drink, Word on the Street | Tags: , , ,

Gin has a fascinating thousand year history. Unfortunately in America most gin drinkers begin and end their tale between two little words: “London” and “Dry”. 1000 years ago a rudimentary gin style, a distilled spirit with the addition of juniper for medicinal purposes, was first introduced to Europeans. The Dutch took gin, or Genever, to haut levels that by the 17th century a barrel of Dutch gin was sold for more money in royal courts than a barrel of Cognac. In America we have a robust system for giving appellations to vineyard land, for the concept of terroir runs deep in our Euro-centric social identity and background. But alas, spirits are not seen through the same ocular lens in America and we fall very short of accurately defining our spirit categories. Except for those rare circumstances where large producers have pushed for mildly greater specificity like Bourbon or some Agricole Rums. With the bloom of craft spirits and a true panoply of small craft distillers emerging on the American beverage and distribution scene we need to reassess our way of “doing business.”

News from the Street: We have been working on a grassroots movement that has deep ramifications for the future of spirit appellations. “The American Dry Gin Society.”  We’ve employed a legal firm from San Francisco, Strike and Techel, to help with the legal aspect of this, but most important is spreading the word to the bartender community and thus the public at large about appellating spirits. In a nutshell the problem is that TTB has virtually no system to codify spirits based on region, style and geography. Gin for example is so vaguely defined that any distiller could put Old Tom, London Dry or Geneva on any bottle of gin regardless of the style since these terms are deemed generic by TTB. Their only commonality is that they must use a predominant amount of juniper in the botanical blend that makes gin. Bourbon has been watered down to be truly meaningless and whiskey in itself has five pages of definitions that do nothing to protect high quality, artisan product. Clearly the laws were written post prohibition and amended by large economic influences from the spirits and barrel industries.
We are beginning with the basics and have re labeled Small’s Gin as “American Dry”. Our definition is below. It is terribly exciting to be pioneering a new category of spirit in America and our hope is to generate more awareness about the styles of gin as well as embrace our own American heritage and rich distilling history. The consumer can only benefit from higher quality and precision in labeling and codifying styles. The American Dry Gin Society has begun!

“Small’s Gin is spearheading a new category in American gin, “American Dry.” We define American Dry as gin distilled in the United States with grains grown in America. American Dry gins are pot distilled, giving subtle expression to their base grains that harmonize with complex and delicate aromatics from infused botanicals. American Dry represents a style of gin prevalent in America from 1850-1870 before the popularization of London Dry. American Dry defines gin produced in the United States and offers the consumer a better understanding of gin, its history and its manifold expressions.  Thus an appellation of gin is reborn within the United States!

Won’t it be something over the next generation or two to have spirits developed and distilled for regional and historical precedents in lieu of economic and fashion trends? Sometime in the near future I can envision having regional gins and whiskeys that express the “terroir” and life of distinct American venues like a New York style whiskey, a Western Standard gin and a Rocky Mountain whiskey; all unique and all expressive of the vast differences that we have in geography, climate, social proclivities and tastes across our huge country.


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