In Sonoma County, California, Spirit Works might be the only American outfit shipping in real sloe berries for its bright, zesty, generations-old family recipe. But this doesn’t mean the operation is stuck in the past. The distillery’s unique Barrel Reserve expression, rested in charred new American oak for a heartier, toastier finish, smacks of New World innovation.
“A distiller friend said, ‘Hey, since you’re the only producers of sloe gin in the U.S., why not age it and become the only people in the world to make a barrel-aged sloe gin?’ ” says Ashby Marshall, the brand’s brand director and co-owner. Aided by her husband, Timo, the Marshalls’ lineup spans vodka, dry gin, barrel-aged gin, wheat whiskey and rye, all made completely in-house.
“Working with charred barrels for our whiskey, we recognized a clear collaboration,” she says. “Aging sloe gin brought the pomegranate notes toward dark cherry, the fresh tea-like nose to a roasted Ceylon, and the mouthfeel to liquid velvet.”
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