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Friday Fishwrap
It’s Your Lucky Day: We Discover Great Gin For Winelovers

By Stephen Eliot

No, not aged in wine barrels or distilled from fermented grape juice. This is gin whose incredible complexity could make a wine sniffer happy for hours. And it turns out that these wonderful gins are practically members of the Connoisseurs’ Guide family.

“Genius” is typically defined as a generous capacity of intellect, especially when it comes to creative endeavor. “Hyperbole”, on the other hand, means extravagant and intentional overstatement. For the purposes of this bloggish offering, it is genius that is in charge.

I spent the better part (the far better part) of my afternoon yesterday with the self-described “mad scientists” at St. George Spirits right here in Alameda, and, with respect to creativity within the distiller’s realm, I think I can say, with no intent of being in any way hyperbolic, that there is a bit of genuine genius at work at the place.

Our close proximity to many of California’s greatest wine appellations is a blessing for which we regularly give thanks, but having a distiller of such high achievement as St. George right in our back yard is, as they say, icing on the cake. Now, I admit to not dropping by as often as I would like, but, even if my visits are no more than occasional, I know that there will be something newly emerged from the still and waiting in the rows of neatly stacked barrels. Yesterday proved me right.

It has been some time since I last reported on the goings on at St. George Spirits, and, in the interim, several new distillates bearing its name have appeared on the scene. Chief among them is a remarkable collection of artisanal Gins.

Making their debuts not long ago and increasingly turning heads among Gin aficionados as the word slowly gets out, the “Botanivore”, “Terroir” and “Dry Rye” rank among the more distinctive and downright interesting Gins to be had. And, while all of a family, they speak with three very different and individual voices.

The “Botanivore” is a refined and wonderfully aromatic Gin distilled using over 20 different botanicals, and, while refreshing and vibrant, it is remarkably complex and continues to reveal a little more with each sip. It has joined Bluecoat as my gin of choice for my much-loved very dry martini. I have more than once heard, as I did again yesterday, surprised tasters proclaiming that “I don’t like Gin…but I like this!”

Even more intensely driven by herbs, the “Terroir” is intended to evoke the particular woodsy specifics of Marin County’s Mount Tam. Suffused with piney, forest-floor elements and redolent of Bay Laurel and fresh sage, it may leave some wondering if it is too much of a good thing, but it is a Gin that Gin-lovers will love.

Rounding out the trio, the “Dry Rye” wanders well off the conventional path. Despite the fact that it includes far more juniper in its recipe than either of its mates, it in some ways does not taste like Gin. It is full and fatter with a faint malty edge and a wisp of distinctive caraway spice, and it seems almost conceived with whiskey drinkers in mind. Its spicy richness brings an entirely new dimension to a classic Negroni cocktail.

The three each retail for $36.00, and they earn a nod for fine value. I would encourage those who appreciate fine spirits but are ambivalent about Gin to give them a look, and, those who like me are unrepentant champions of well-crafted Gin will be making space on their shelves for a bottle of each. Genius indeed.


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For thirty-five years, Connoisseurs’ Guide has been the authoritative voice of the California wine consumer. With readers in all fifty states and twenty foreign countries, the Guide is valued by wine lovers everywhere for its honesty and for it strong adherence to the principles of transparency, unbiased, hard-hitting opinions. Now, it is becoming the California winelover’s most powerful online voice as well. And, our new features provide an unmatched array of advice and information for aficionados of every stripe.


by Samantha Dugan
Posted on:4/14/2012 8:25:00 AM

I can honestly say that I've never bought anything from reading a blog post, well I could until now. I am a Gin fanatic and have worked my way through just about every offering I've found, these however, these are new to me and I have to have them! Very excited now.

Gin? Tes!!
by Charlie Olken
Posted on:4/14/2012 8:53:20 AM

Good morning, Sam--

I am not a gin drinker, but this amazing trio of bottling has taught me a thing or two about the product. Each has a unique and attractive personality.

Lance and Dave are true craftsmen--artisans if you will--and so very damn skilled. They make all kinds of wonderful stuff, including a barrel-aged Manhattan that is the smoothest, richest version of the only cocktail I drink (since I prefer my whisk(e)y just the way it comes). Oh, and I do occasional lust after a bold, searing Bloody Mary and use their Chipotle Vodka in it.

I can't remember if you met Matt Smith when you were tasting with us. Matt is the technical winemaking support guy at Rock Wall here in Alameda. His brother, Dave, is the Master Distiller at St. George Spirits and an occasional member of our tasting panel. It is always a kick to have him join us because St. George has so many experiments going and he always brings somethign along for us to play with after the wine tasting.

All of which is a long way of saying that you really do need to get to know not just their gins but their other products as well.

Of All The Gin Joints in the World...
by Gerald Weisl
Posted on:4/17/2012 9:37:39 AM

Add to your list of "Gins to Try ":

OLD WORLD SPIRITSBlade Gin & their barrel-aged  Rusty Blade Gin (made in Belmont, California!)

BRUICHLADDICH (an Islay Malt Whisky Producer):  The Botanist which includes many of the usual suspects, but a bunch of 'botanicals' sourced/foraged on Islay.


St. George's secret "4th Gin"
by Chiara Shannon
Posted on:4/20/2012 5:55:57 PM

Wow, I'm so pleased to come across this thread! Fans of the St George Gins will definitely want to know about the "secret 4th Gin" they made - which we bottled under K&L Wine Merchant's private label Faultine Spirits and just arrived to our stores in March.   

We basically let the guys at St. George work the magic, tweaking the recipe with celery seed and other botannicals in order to produce a really distinctive, savory style. 

you can read more about on here:

or check it out on


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