Thursday, April 10, 2008
Product Review- Back River Gin
I love Maine. Its a beautiful state. Mainers are a unique breed, and I almost feel a kinship with them living here in the Pacific Northwest. Anyone can live in Southern California, but it takes a certain kind of hardy soul to live in Maine where you can experience all four seasons, sometimes in the same day. And some of my favorite things come from Maine. Lobster rolls, John Thorne, blueberries, and now Back River gin. If I were ever to win the lottery, or become filthy rich through some other twist of fate, I'd either buy a cabin in Maine and live a mostly hermit-like existence or I'd disappear into Baja, never to be seen again.
I have to say that when I first held the bottle in my hands, I was drawn to the unique label. Apparently, its a photograph of ice crystals that the distiller took on the edge of the river. It makes for a striking label, drawing your attention but not overwhelming the simple presentation of the bottle itself. I wish more products were as simple and well designed as Back River's label.
As for actual contents of the bottle, the gin itself? Its a glorious gin, a great representation of the terroir of Maine. They actually use blueberries as one of the botanicals in the distillation, and while I wasn't able to pick it up in the bouquet, I definitely got it on the palate. But I digress.
Back River gin has a spicy, cinnamony bouquet with just a hint of citrus in the background. It smells wonderful enough to make me consider wearing it as cologne (ok, I'm SLIGHTLY exagerrating that one, but the nose on this stuff is heady stuff).
On the palate, Back River is slightly warm (that 86 proof stands out), packed with a cinnamon spice flavor, and an undertone of juniper and citrus. This is a gin that would be perfect for a gin and tonic. Just at the finish I get the slightest hint of blueberry, very brief, but recognizable and distinctive nonetheless. This is a tasty gin people.
With gin, I usually prefer to drink a certain brand either neat or mixed. I tend to find that a good gin for a gin and tonic may be too bold to drink neat, and one that does well on its own may lack the structure and complexity needed to mix well. Well, Back River strikes that careful balance, allowing you to enjoy it by itself, but with enough spice and complexity to mix well. Personally, I'll probably mix this more than drink it neat, but I could go either way with this gin, its that well made.
There are a couple of downsides to this gin. If, like me, you live in Oregon, there is only one way to get this stuff, and thats a trip to Maine. The other is, its so good, I actually had someone "liberate" (or maybe steal) the bottle from me the last time I took it to a tasting. So somewhere in this great state, I hope someone is enjoying this fine gin, but its not me right now. Thank goodness I was able to taste the Oregon Bartenders Guild on this before it disappeared. Now we have one more product to push for in this state.
Back River gin is a rare gem, and if you are lucky enough to find it, pick me up a bottle too will you? Then again, it might be a great time to visit Maine.