Copper & Kings American Dry Gin
I'm starting off our special gin week here on the spirits blog with a new expression that likely none of you have tried, and no one has yet sold at retail but us here at K&L. It arrived today, custom-made for us by Joe and the team over at Copper & Kings in Louisville after my co-worker Julio and I spent the evening drinking gin and tonics out on the patio at the distillery this past April and decided we needed it in our lives. "We only make this for us," Joe explained after both Julio and myself commented on how delicious the drinks tasted. "We like gin, and we can make it here, so we do," he continued. While C&K is indeed making what is—to me—instantly one of the best American gins on the market, they're doing it in a way that few other producers (if any) are doing. Let's break it down:
- Almost all gins are made with neutral grain spirit as the base.
- Almost all gin producers purchase that grain neutral spirit on the bulk market (it's a dirty secret).
- Very few producers distill their own base spirit for gin
- Even fewer use apples as the base material
Yet, because C&K is a brandy distillery, Joe and his team use brandy as the base for the American dry gin, adding a botanical soak and basket to their standard double pot distillation process. The production is no different than distilling a batch of C&K American apple brandy, just with the addition of juniper berries, coriander, angelica, orris and other dry botanicals tossed into the low wine for a long steep before the second distillation begins. Once that first 35% ABV distillate is thoroughly flavored, a basket is hung in the pot still with citrus peels and lavender to further infuse that vapor as it passes through the chamber during the second run. The result is a flavored apple brandy, or an American dry gin—call it what you like. I can it gin. Delicious, delicious gin!
One thing to know about the C&K American dry gin is that it's made on the smallest pot still in the facility, which according to Joe only yields about 120 bottles worth of gin per batch—exactly the amount we ordered in our initial ten case purchase. Smelling my first glass of the newly arrived hooch, I can already sense the differences from the bottle I originally brought back from the distillery this past Spring. There's a bit more apple must on the nose and the finish is creamier and tangier in profile. My point in mentioning that is: this is real small batch gin, in that it will taste a little bit different each time we order it. Joe is making it especially for us each time, so while the recipe will remain the same, the subtle nuances of the apple brandy base will vary from batch to batch.
Other than the wildcard of a base material, the C&K American dry gin drinks much like a classic London dry style. Bright juniper notes, lifted by the coriander, with a fresh and spicy finish. In a gin and tonic, it's absolute heaven. It's also my new favorite gin in the store. I highly, highly recommend getting one.