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Review:

Junípero Gin

Distillery

Anchor Distilling Company, Potrero Hill, San Francisco, California, USA.

Website

Anchor Distilling Company.

History

Anchor Distilling is a subsidiary of the well-known Anchor Brewing Company. The brewery, best known for it’s Steam Beer, was first established in 1871 by German born Gottlieb Brekle. In 1896 Brekle sold the brewery to Ernst Baruth and Otto Schinkel who renamed it as Anchor. In the 1950’s there was a market surge in mass produced beers and Anchor faced some difficult years. In 1965 Anchor was saved from bankruptcy when bought by Frederick “Fritz” Maytag, a member of the Maytag family responsible for the well-known American household appliances company, who sold his shares in Maytag to enable the purchase.

The distillery was born out of an idea Fritz Maytag had back in the 1970’s to create a Rye Whisky and became indicative of how all their spirits are thoroughly researched and experimented with extensively until they are certain they have it just right. Finally founded in 1993, the distillery concentrates on the small batch production of spirits, led by head Distiller Bruce Joseph (an employee of Anchor since 1980). In 2010 Keith Greggor and Tony Foglio of the Griffin Group (and previously from Skyy Vodka) bought Anchor, with Fritz Maytag still retained as Chairman. Since this time they have expanded to include the sale and distribution of imported spirits too (currently with a portfolio of over 400 brands). In 2016 Anchor plan to open a new brewery and distillery (while retaining the current site) at Pier 48 in San Francisco, providing more of a visitor center experience. It is expected to have a museum, tours, tasting room and, of course, a bar and restaurant.

Junípero was launched in April 1996 and is believed to be the first “craft” Gin to be made in the USA since prohibition.

Production

Using bought in Grain neutral spirit made from wheat, the Gin is steeped and distilled in a small copper pot still. 10 years experience gained through mixing herbs and spices for the brewery’s annual Christmas Ale resulted in a selected blend of botanicals being used to make this Gin.

The Gin is presented in a squat clear glass bottle with long neck, curved shoulders and a dimple in the bottom. It has a rectangular white colored label with purple writing with a copper colored alembic still image in the middle (and a top of the stopper). This is an undated label from spring 2015, previously it was blue and purple script style writing and color scheme.

Category

London Dry Gin, although because it is made in the USA it is technically called a Distilled Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

49.3% (99 Proof).

Price Range

$$$. Widely available throughout the USA and online from: Hi-Time Wine CellarsAstor WinesBeltramo’s; Binny’s Beverage Depot.K&L Wines; and Drink UpNY.

Botanicals

Uses 12 botanicals including coriander, juniper berries and liquorice.

Name

Junípero Gin takes its name from the Spanish Franciscan Friar, Junípero Serra Ferrer (often simply referred to as “Serra”) the founder of Spanish California. He was born Miquel Joseph Serra i Ferrer, on the Mediterranean Island of Majorca (part of Spain), in 1713. Upon entering the Franciscan brotherhood at the age of 17 in 1730, he adopted the name Junípero, in honor of Brother Juniper a companion of St. Francis.

He was ordained in 1737 and went on to teach philosophy and theology in Padua University. In 1750 he went to Mexico as a missionary, something that would become the rest of his life’s work. In his 50’s he was charged with establishing missions in what is now modern day California, as a way of bringing the Christian faith to the native people of the area, and today is known as the founder of:

  • San Diego (16th July 1769);
  • Carmel-by-the-Sea (3rd June 1770);
  • San Gabriel (8th September 1771);
  • San Luis Obispo (1st September 1772);
  • San Francisco (29th June 1776);
  • Santa Clara (12th January 1777);
  • San Juan Capistrano (1st November 1777); and
  • Ventura (31st March 1782).

Father Junípero Serra died on 28th August 1784 (aged 70) in Carmel, where he is buried, and there is a feast day celebrated in his honor on the 1st July each year. He was beatified on 25th September 1988 and canonized on 25th September 2015.

Tasting Notes

On the nose are piney juniper with fruity citrus and a hint of liquorice. On the palate this medium bodied spirit has juniper, supported by liquorice and fruity citrus (lemon and/or grapefruit), plus some spice (coriander) and grassy herbal (angelica) notes. On the dry and clean finish the juniper continues with elements of subtle orange citrus and peppery spice in the close. A clean and vibrant Gin with all the right notes in all the right places!

Although not necessarily designed to be drunk neat, many like its smoothness but; this is best used as a real cocktail makers delight. It does well in a Gin and Tonic, where a citrus garnish is favored, and can be best described as refreshing. A Martini does equally well (although marginally preferred by us) where it exhibits a classic dryness, and is at home to either a citrus twist or olive garnish. It was interesting in a Negroni where, while slightly muted, it brought out some interesting spicy flavors.

This is the first, and probably best, example of a London Dry Gin made in the USA. It’s pricing and flavor profile makes this very easy to strongly recommend for traditional Gin drinkers and a great Gin for bartenders.

Awards & Accolades

91 Points, Ultimate Beverage Challenge.

90 Points, Beverage Testing Institute.

87 Points, Wine Enthusiast.

Silver Medal, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America Tasting Competition, 2015.

Gold Medal & Best Gin In Show, New York World Wine & Spirits Competition, 2012.

Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2006.

Silver Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2005.

Double Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2004.



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