Since Woody Creek Distillers (WCD) opened in May 2013, “a day didn’t go by when someone didn’t ask about gin,” says co-founder Mark Kleckner. Now, having nailed its recipes for barrel-aged whiskey and handcrafted potato vodka, which won Double Gold, Best Vodka at the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition in March, the Basalt microdistillery unveils its first artisanal gin.
Creation of WCD gin starts from the ground up, literally: with potatoes grown in volcanic Rocky Mountain soil at co-founder Pat Scanlan’s thirty-acre Scanlan Family Farm in Woody Creek. Pure potato-base spirit is distilled to above 190-proof; from there it may be blended with mountain spring water to create WCD signature vodka or macerated with juniper for redistillation into gin.
“Gin is just flavored vodka that must have juniper in it,” Kleckner explains. Still, it took his team a full year and many 140-liter test batches to choose among fifty ingredients and settle on a final blend of herbs and spices for its government-approved formula. Just as WCD has been widely praised for reintroducing the American palate to vodka’s true flavor, the new gin is on track to garner fans fast. The super-smooth, unaged spirit layers classic London Dry flavors (juniper, citrus) with New World nuances of botanicals including cranberries, lavender, and hibiscus. Call it the yin and yang of gin: “You know you’re drinking gin,” Kleckner says, “but at the same time you can taste the newer botanicals we’ve developed an appreciation for. It’s also gluten-free.”