To me, summer is gin season. There is nothing like a tall, ice-cold gin and tonic on a hot, humid day. The botanicals bring a brightness to the palate that provide just as much of a cooling sensation as the ice. With summer weather just around the corner (and for many of us it’s already arrived), here’s my suggestion on how to drink curious this gin season.
For years, many perceived gin as a one-note liquor: "It tastes like a Christmas tree!" But, thanks to a particularly robust craft interest in the infused spirit, the shelves are now brimming with gins boasting a myriad of botanicals - beyond the requisite juniper - to include common herbs like anise and coriander, to more exotic spices like sumac and seaweed. Though I do appreciate the unusual, I find incredible comfort (and refreshment) in the old guard flavors, especially when they are combined in new ways.
In Louisville, Kentucky, Copper & Kings American Brandy Company focuses their business on a less-than-lauded spirit: brandy. They mostly make grape brandy, but do have an apple as part of of regular portfolio as was as limited releases of pear, peach, and others. A good apple brandy - in its purest form - can be a beautiful thing, and a perfect companion to bourbon in a cocktail. However, the particular delight of apple brandy is that it makes a fabulous base distillate for other spirits, and in this case, gin. Copper & Kings produces six varieties: American Dry, Old Tom, and 1495 Guilders (based on an old German recipe that includes mostly warming spices), Moons of Juniper (an very juniper forward gin), The Ninth (an orange gin aged in orange curaçao barrels, and The History of Lovers (a rose gin). This review will focus on the first, and more widely recognizable, of the lineup.
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Modern American Dry Gin. Batch distilled just twice in alembic stills, using 100% apple wine from fresh-pressed apple juice. No neutral spirits are used in the distillation.
Copper & Kings American Dry Gin
NOSE: Slight juniper on the nose, with no real bite. A very clean scent.
TASTE: The Copper & Kings American Dry Gin is a much-welcome reimagining of a classic. With a foundation of apple brandy low-wine, which lends a crisp fruitiness to the base of the flavor, this gin layers on the classic botanicals of juniper, coriander, angelica root, orris, and a few undisclosed varietals. Once the botanical tea is steeped, the spirit is redistilled with lavender and citrus peels to round out the flavor. The end product is an absolute delight, and the perfect companion to tonic and a fresh lime squeeze.
FINISH: Slight juniper on the nose, with no real bite. A very clean scent.
SHARE WITH: Anyone looking for a refreshing drink on a warm day, and perhaps even gin neophytes looking to expand their repertoires.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: As this bottle is not a large investment, and can easily go quickly over the hot summer months, this bottle is great for your home bar.
OVERALL: Though I am sure this would pair well with other gin-classic cocktails, such as a Gimlet, I feel the basic tonic is the best complement to this dry gin. The G&T can seem pedestrian, but can easily be elevated with small-batch tonics such as Fever Tree or tonic syrup and seltzer (Jack Rudy is a particular favorite), and by playing with less common citruses (think blood orange, yuzu, key lime). Any way you enjoy, Copper & Kings knocked it out of the park with this American Dry Gin.
Disclaimer: Copper & Kings provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.