In a 5,000 square-foot Williamsburg warehouse in Brooklyn (at the corner of Lorimer and Richardson), sits the New York Distilling Company HQ.
The story of NY Distilling has many starting points which we’ve covered in our write up of Dorothy Parker Gin – which they also produce. (To read more about the distillery start up, please click HERE). At a glance it would be all to easy to see New York Distilling Company’s two gin releases as simply part of the ongoing wave of new craft distilleries and yet another example of this surge in micro-made spirits. However, what they have made and what they are doing deserves much, much more attention.
The initial intention for the then three man New York Distilling Company team was to create one gin, but during the development, whilst the various recipes were being considered, the team decided that although different, there were two recipes they could develop further and decided to create two gins. They were not intended as a pair or as a contrast, merely as two great gins that both deserved to be made as they stood up to inspection and most importantly, in their eyes, both brought something new to the wider gin category.
One of these gins was named Perry’s Tot, the first American Navy Strength Gin. The name ‘Perry’s’ is after Matthew Calbraith Perry, who served as Commandant of the Brooklyn Navy Yard from 1841-43. There are nods at each stage to the heritage of the Navy Strength style, both in the name, design, content and flavour but all are done in a modern, contemporary fashion. The 57% ABV comes from the historical proof percentage at which gunpowder could still be fired should it unfortunately be soaked by spilled spirit. Incidentally, at 57% ABV, it may seem to require Dutch Courage to even go near it, but this is not the case as the gin makes the most of the alcohol content, tying in bold aromatic flavours rather than acting as simple rocket fuel.
A ‘tot’ was a recognised measure aboard vessels (about 70ml) and if you were to also try it neat, expect to pick up on a strong juniper forward gin surrounded by warming spice and earthy orange (the warmth may well be accentuated by the high ABV). A few sips in and the more delicate citrus elements reveal themselves, grapefruit emerges and so too does a lingering earthy note. A very well balanced, confident gin and one that should go on any gin lover’s must try list.
The botanicals used are relatively traditional, with juniper, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, lemon, orange and grapefruit peel, but there is one that jumps out as unusual – wild flower honey from upstate New York. Allen Katz describes the use of the botanical as providing an earthy/floral note on the nose which once pointed out, we felt could be discerned, if a little hard to separate distinctly from any of the others. It clearly adds something to the ensemble though, and we’ll take his word for it that Perry’s just wouldn’t be the same without it.
It’s good to see that the team really thought their concept through and continued the theme into the other elements of the gin too; the image of Perry on the inside of the bottle seems to us like a tribute to Plymouth’s original bottles with the monks on the side. No doubt the bottle’s designer, Milton Glazer (a renowned name in the design industry), will have done so for many other reasons as well and whatever the rationale, it looks great. We enjoyed it in a G&T, but sticking with the Navy theme, recommend trying it in a Gimlet. It would make for a great Hot Toddy gin too with the flavours from the spices easily accentuated with a bit of consideration.
As you can probably tell, the release of a Navy Strength was always going to get us gin geeks excited, but put that all aside and taste it blind and you’re still left with a good spirit. Perhaps more niche and (again perhaps only for geeks) an exciting discovery was the ongoing experiments with Perry’s Tot in a small American Oak cask. It’s unlikely to ever be released but if you find yourself in The Shanty, get begging! As having now tasted over a dozen barrel-aged experiments by various distillers, it’s the best barrel-aged gin we’ve tried by quite a long way.
The wood had added some depth, brought out the star anise and other warming spices but without losing sight on the gin’s main driver, a clear juniper backbone. It’s great to see it now being mixed at the bar. (Leather Bound: Barrel-aged Perry’s Tot gin, Ramazotti, lime, Allspice Dram, Angostura bitters, served up)
It’s hard to see how New York Distilling Co won’t be a run-away success. A quick look at the CV of the creators show the deep knowledge and know-how to manage distilleries, serve great drinks as well as a long history that demonstrates a passion for the food and drink industry, these elements are all in evidence when you visit. In interviews, Allen Katz talks frequently about wanting to add something to the conversation and producing something that wasn’t out there on the market – and in our opinion they’ve achieved that and have interesting gins as a result.
They have managed to create two unique gins, a fantastic bar and are on the road to making other spirits including a Rye and potentially an Old Tom Gin. However, with craft distilling maintaining its appeal as more consumers search out for the stories behind product – New York Distilling Co’s biggest asset is provenance and accessibility. Their commitment to using sustainably produced ingredients in all of their spirits and whenever possible to feature grains and other ingredients grown in New York State is admirable and goes a long way in demonstrating just how much provenance is important to them too. Just like the London-based Sipsmith, it’s easy to walk into the distillery, see what’s going on and talk to the team.
With their Christian Carl, 1000 litre still now in action so frequently, the only thing left to do for the New York Distilling Company team is to give it a good nickname and keep up the good work!
For more information about New York Distilling, visit their website: www.nydistilling.com
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