On my last trip home to California I acquired a bottle of Gray Whale Gin. This is a relatively new ‘craft’ Gin and had been well received by the gin cognoscenti. The following is a typical review: “First, the aroma of citrus carries you north, followed by juniper and a subtle hint of cool coastal fir trees. As you move further up the path, fresh mint and the umami flavors of kombu sea kelp are rounded out by a beautiful lasting creamy almond finish. Its young, bold and wise beyond its years.”
So, of course, I was eager to give this a try, having been led by such reviews to expect and angels with harps riding great grey whales …… but no.
First some of the basics. This Gin is made in Sebastopol, California by Golden State Distillery. For those of you unfamiliar with Californian geography that is north of San Francisco, near Santa Rosa. There are only six ingredients, all from California. They are Big Sur Juniper, Temecula Limes, Sonoma Fir Tree (needles), Mendocino Coast Sea Kelp, Santa Cruz Mint, and Central Valley Almonds.
The gin is 43% ABV, 100% gluten free, seven times distilled. All very appealing.
Furthermore, every bottle of Gray Whale Gin supports Oceana, through a 1% donation, protecting and restoring the world’s oceans such that Gray Whales will continue to make that epic 12,000 mile annual journey from the Alaskan Artic Ocean down the Canadian and California Coast to their Winter Birthing grounds in the Bay of California.
So how does it taste?
In a cold Martini it is very neutral. The juniper is dominant, yet subdued. There is also notes of spice, a bit of citrus, and slightly earthy after tone. Overall, genuinely nice but unremarkable.
Tasting it “neat”, in a Glengoyne glass, you get citrus on the nose when first approached. On the first taste juniper dominates with a slight bit of salt. Then, there is some citrus and, again, there are some earthy afternotes
In my opinion, this gin is somewhat pedestrian. Not bad by any means but nothing special stands out either. I think this gin would be best enjoyed in more complex cocktails with additional flavors supporting the drink.
If you are looking for a neutral and mild gin this may well fit the bill. Perhaps when introducing an uninitiated friend to the virtues of a Martini?
And you can help save the Gray Whales also.
If you have any special Gins you’d for which you’d like to hear my review, please let me know. Just add a comment to this post and I’ll do my best to find and sample it.
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