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St. George Spirits



St. George Spirits was originally established by Jörg Rupf in 1982 as an ‘Eau de Vie’ artisan distillery using a 65 gallon Holstein pot still after arriving in America from his own home the Black Forest, Germany. Inspired by the Bay Area’s raw materials and fledgling foodie culture and combined with his family history, it was only natural to start distilling. It has taken them up to 30 years to grow from a one man band to the 65,000 square foot Naval hangar that stands today, that includes a diverse team of distillers, a tasting room, a laboratory and a huge line-up of pot stills. In 2010 Rupf passed the company over to colleague and distiller Lance Winters, a former U.S. Navy engineer and brewer, who had worked with him since 1996 and is now the sole proprietor of St. George Spirits.

St. George's Terroir Gin -

St. George Terroir uses 3 botanicals inspired by the wild Golden State that is California, along with others that help bring them to life in what the team at St. George’s Spirits call an “Ode to the Golden State”. The gin takes its lead with the foresty notes of Douglas fir, bay laurel and sage. Coriander seeds and juniper berries are the notable other botanicals contributing to an aromatic bouquet.

The gin is quite a unique proposition and tastes like no other on the market. However, you should consider the use of the word “Terroir” as metaphorical, rather than with wine or with Origin Gin when “terroir” actually refers to the geographical location of where ingredients are sourced. This is a gin that is inspired by the woods, not of the woods. In this, it achieves its goal – it really does remind you of a walk on a mountain trail.

It must also be said that it’s a decisively American take on gin, that sits on the edge of the category. Juniper is subdued with the defining characteristics being the bay laurel and Douglas fir which burst out beautifully. This is no bad thing and makes for a unique gin, but it’s gin in the American sense, not London Dry territory (or “terroir” if you will).

St. George's Botanivore Gin -

St. George Botanivore Gin took its name from the sheer abundance of botanicals present. This fauna greedy gin has 19 different botanicals hence the playful name “botanical eater”. The list goes like this, juniper berries, angelica root, bay laurel, bergamot peel, black peppercorn, caraway, cardamom, cilantro, cinnamon, citra hops, coriander, dill seed, fennel seed, ginger, lemon peel, lime peel, orris root, Seville orange peel and lastly star anise. The process begins with layering juniper berries, bay laurel and cilantro in the botanical basket, while the remaining 16 botanicals are left to steep overnight in their 1,500 litre copper pot still. The still is run the following day, vapour infusing the contents of the basket on the way up. The result yields a run of 800 bottles per batch at an ABV of 45%.

St. George's Dry Rye Gin -

With the base imparting malty undertones, the St. George’s Rye Gin is quite a special product, both unique and challenging in equal measure. The spirit is made in the same 1,500 litre copper pot still as Terroir and Botanivore, but with a mix of 6 botanicals including up to 50% more juniper berries than the previous two gins, black peppercorn, caraway, coriander and lime peel once again. They threw in one newbie for this expression, grapefruit peel, to accentuate the punchy pepper notes found in juniper. Packaged in their usual, beautifully designed bottles, the soft cereal and nutmeg aromas come off with a subdued, but fresh juniper. Violet lavender notes prominent to taste and herbal flavours emerge too – all carried with Rye undertones. St. George’s Rye Gin has got a lot going and an example of a gin that you have to return to in order to get all the flavours.

It also brings up the concept of American Genever, as it’s neither gin nor genever, but somehow somewhere in between and perfect for a Martinez cocktail. Genuinely – try this gin if you ever have the chance. It’s not for everyone but it is interesting and completely unlike anything you might expect.

Read our full review here: St. George Spirits

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