Not only is Portland the home to the greatest number of craft breweries in the world, but to metaphorically put the olive in the martini, we lucky denizens of this thirst ridden city are also fortunate enough to have a growing number of craft distillers whose vodkas, gins, whiskies, and other intoxicants are gaining nation-wide recognition. Stephen McCarthy and his legendary Clear Creek Distillery started the boom years ago. Now labels like Medoyeff, Aviation, New Deal, Ransom, and others are putting smiles on faces in bars across the country. We even have our own and the nation's first craft distillers guild. Being somewhat of a gin freak, when word of a new bottling of this most botanical of beverages comes my way, I have this uncontrollable urge to visit my nearest liquor store (which I always get a probably unhealthy pleasure out of going to in a grownup kid-in-an-adult-candy-store way. Even after all these years there is still a kind of illicit thrill to viewing those shelves of demon alcohol!) in search of my next martini mixer.
My latest find is the newly released gin from Integrity Sprits called 12 Bridges. As they say on their very nicely put together website, 12 Bridges is "aptly named for the number of bridges in our city, and for the 12 botanicals in its recipe". It ran a little over $25 an attractively packaged bottle, and it was with great anticipation I took it home to mix that first gin-and-tonic on a sweltering evening. I (along with my co-palate in pleasure w) first took a sniff and a sip straight up to get a feel for it. Definite floral, citrus, cucumber notes were very apparent, along with the usual juniper botanicals, on the nose and in the mouth. I know, it's kind of dorky to sniff your gin, but what can I say, I'm obsessed. Mixed with the tonic really brought out the cucumber flavors. It reminded me a lot of Hendrick's Gin with those same kinds of sensations. Like Hendrick's, I'm sure it would make a killer gimlet. Tonight I'll try a 12 Bridges martini, because I would hate to skimp on my research. I'm not sure about national distribution, but if you see it, it is definitely worthy of ice and tonic. Cheers!!