The makers of Pink Spruce Gin, Rogue, started out as brewers, but have been raking in the awards for their spirits of several years now, including Distillery of the Year at the World Beverage Competition in 2013. Hailing from Oregon, the micro-brewing, micro-distilling capital of the world, a mate who is a big fan of Rogue beer, raved about them, but described some of their beers as being a bit “out there”.
I’m used to tasting “out there” gins and know that sometimes that this doesn’t always come with an “out of this world” taste. While the packaging of the Pink Spruce Gin caught my eye, the words “ocean-aged in Oregon Pinot Noir barrels” almost made me question my sanity as I parted with my cash.
As you know I’m a little reluctant when it come to barrel-aged gin as it tends to lose much of my beloved juniper during the ageing process, but “ocean-aged”? I had no idea what to expect.
Back in ye olden days, spirits were transported by barrel, and pre-bottling acts often served from them, and the spirits would pick up flavours. If you want to taste a good example, Haymans recently launched their Family Reserve gin which is rested in whisky barrels for 3 weeks to mimic the old method of transportation. “Ocean-ageing” occurs when barrels are transported by boat. The motion of the ocean, combined with the varying temperatures helps age the spirit, often quicker than by conventional methods.
Anyway, back to Pink Spruce Gin. It says on their website that the gin is aged 4-6 months but in their picture it looks pink. As you can see from my image, it’s not pink, but the hue you’d expect from a barrel-aged gin.,
Spruce, Juniper Berries, Ginger, Fresh Cucumber, Orris Root, Orange Peel, Lemon Peel, Tangerine, Grains of Paradise, Angelica Root , Coriander and ‘Free Range’ Coastal Water. Yup, you read that right. Sea water.
Intrigued? You should be. On the nose, the juniper and spruce do their job reminding you that this is indeed, gin, but with the faintest whiff of oak. The spruce lifts the juniper (also a conifer) while the salt from the sea water gives a savoury note. I picked up some oaky flavours and a little tannin, that while adding a depth of flavour didn’t detract too much from the ginny-ness. I found it smooth, with a lingering after-taste.
Like most barrel-aged gins it doesn’t benefit from tonic (I have my eye on their other Spruce gin for that) but I did enjoy it in a Last Word and would also recommend it in a Negroni or a simple old-fashioned.
Country of Origin: USA