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In the Cellars at the Mansion we have a ‘gathering table’ if you will, and daily so much happens relative to spirits and building friendships. So, with that in mind, I thought I would start sharing some of the discussions, tastings, and humor that takes place daily. There is always something happening in the Cellars that sometimes it reminds of the days when we would sit in the kitchen and talk, drink, eat, and laugh. The experiences are educational, delicious, and fun. So, if you find yourself at the Mansion, drop by the Cellars and enjoy some great spirits and enjoy a laugh or two.

Saturday afternoon 12 guests and myself got to enjoy some gin… yes I said gin. For me it is always fun to watch the reaction of people to gin. They start with a bias that it can’t be very good neat, but the reality is it is amazing to taste the different botanicals interacting with the juniper berries, and then listen to the discussion of what each person tastes. Gin is basically the cousin of vodka with the major difference being the addition of juniper and botanicals to manipulate the outcome. During the distillation process the juniper and botanicals are infused into the distillate to create the flavor profile desired by the distiller. For example Sipsmith London Dry Gin (one of the gins we tasted) is alcohol distilled at 97-98% and then botanicals (angelica, coriander, licorice) are added along with the juniper berries. The result, a classic London Dry gin (83.2%) that on the nose is orange blossom, juniper, and anise. The palate is juniper based with lemon, orange, and light anise. The finish of lemon tart stays on the palate due the viscosity of the gin. By the third sip your palate is coated with this amazing gin citrus freshness. It makes a great traditional gin and tonic. The difference is we prefer to use tonic syrup versus tonic water. The bitterness of the quinine in tonic water takes away from the flavors of the gin… thus substitute tonic syrup (available in the Cellars) and add club soda versus tonic water (less calories as well is an added bonus) stir gently and add a lime wedge if you wish. It is equally as good in a classic martini… stirred not shaken!

The remainder of the tasting was trying the different styles of gin based on the juniper, botanicals and the distiller’s desired outcomes. For example, St. George Terroir Gin is forest and earthy based… think trees, grass, moist earth, and leaves… The aromas take you to the woods you played in as a child (assuming you didn’t grow up in the middle of a city). The base is Douglas fir and California bay laurel with an additional 10 botanicals. The process is very detailed and deliberate with roasting the coriander in a wok and then using vapor distillation to add the laurel leaves and juniper berries and the balance thrown in the pot still and distilled to perfection. The result is earthy tones, sage, and a hint of citrus. It was one of the favorites of the day! It makes an amazing Martini. Simply chill 3 ounces on ice, stir, strain off the liquid, add a couple of dashes of orange bitters, float a sage leaf and pour into the chilled martini glass. WOW!

Drinking gin on a Saturday afternoon with fun people and sharing this experience was a great time. By the end of the tasting everyone had their favorites and more importantly they discovered how to enjoy gin neat, or in a cocktail of choice. The flavor discovery in this process is what helps you and I discover our palates and what we truly enjoy about spirits. One thing is definite when we gather at the table in the Cellars and enjoy the process of tasting spirits. They are always better shared with others. If you want to join us for a tasting in the Cellars visit our website, TheBigMansion.com. Click on tasting and you will see the upcoming schedule, or join our email list on the site to receive announcements of the tastings.  

Relax and Enjoy!

Jim