I have realized over the past year or so that while I like bourbon and scotch, I don’t necessarily want to drink them very often. They feel like, I don’t know… a commitment? When I drink alcohol, I’m never out to get drunk, so I almost always prefer something lighter than whiskey… which is to say, gin.
But what about a gin that’s also a whiskey?
St. George’s Dry Rye Reposado Gin somehow manages to be precisely this: A gin that also is a whiskey. Gin can be made from any number of grains (or even fruits), after all — what makes it gin has more to do with the botanicals that flavor it. So why not a gin made of rye?
Dry Rye caught my eye because (1) it’s by St. George, an Alameda-based distillery that I discovered when I was in San Francisco a few months back. Their gins are very good! And (2) because North Carolina has asinine blue laws that limit liquor sales to a handful of government-franchised shops with poor selection and equally unimpressive prices, so I’ve taken to buying liquor once a year or so in a batch from out-of-state mail order shops, generally Astor Wines in New York City. As it so happens, this particular gin is one that St. George distills exclusively for Astor Wines. So, it combines four things I like — St. George, gin, Astor Wines, and whiskey — and I felt like I needed to at least give it a try, even though it’s a bit spendier than I prefer.
It is… quite good, as a matter of fact. It’s gin, and it’s rye, and while you wouldn’t think you could combine these two liquors, it works. Not that I’d want to just pour a glass of Bulleit Rye through a funnel into a Hendrick’s bottle or something, but the combination works here. It’s definitely gin — you can taste the juniper and other herbs right away — but after a moment, a subtle hint of rye flavor comes through. It’s quite good, and quite complex. But, alas, the rye aspect of it means it’s a gin I don’t want to drink too often, because it has some of the same, I dunno, severity as whiskey.
It’s versatile, though. It works pretty well in many cocktails that call for gin, and also many cocktails that call for whiskey. It makes a light, floral Manhattan; a complex gin fizz; and a… well, a pretty lousy G&T. But they can’t all be winners.
I’ve never encountered a cocktail that calls for both gin and whiskey, but I bet it would do a bang-up job there. Feel free to pass along some suggestions if you know of any!