Seasonal Gin, 'Vernal - Spring', Letherbee Distillers
Chicago bartender Brenton Engel first began making moonshine in his basement back in 2007—before, in fact, he even began bartending. His “Illinois Joy” began making the rounds among the city’s chefs and bartenders and soon developed a cult following. Learning to combine flavors behind the bar—particularly the herbs and spices which lend depth to gin—Brenton set up shop as an artisanal distiller, and the newly minted Letherbee label released its flagship gin in the spring of 2012, quickly growing with the addition of other herbaceous and aromatic spirits.
Letherbee’s approach to distilling is guided by a clear set of values. With passion for the therapeutic nature of herbal spirits and a commitment to rejecting any outside commercial influence in favor of creative vision, Letherbee has become recognized across the country for their integrity in both production and philosophy.
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Part of Letherbee’s annual release of limited-run gins, this year’s “Vernal” Gin features a botanical focus on horseradish which, in ancient medicine, was used as a stimulant for clearing the respiratory and digestive systems. The Letherbee team processed several hundred pounds of this fresh, tough, and mangled root vegetable by hand to make this batch. Packed with fresh, wasabi-like heat from the moment you twist the cap, this savory gin might not be the perfect fit for all classic cocktails but will tickle the palate when coupled with onion or olive in Gibson and Dirty Martinis and will set a Bloody Mary (or “Red Snapper”) ablaze with new sensation.
The full list of botanicals for this limited-release gin includes Juniper, Horseradish, Coriander, Licorice, Fennel, Angelica, Cubeb, Lemon Peel, Orange Peel, Cinnamon, & Almond. Savory, oily, spicy, and as vegetal as it gets this gin is halfway along the road to tasting like a Bloody Mary all on its own. Freshly grated horseradish dominates the nose and palate of fresh & fermented radish, stewed turnips, and mustard seed. Non-chill filtered and 48% ABV