“New Western Dry Gin” from House Spirits in Portland, Oregon, Aviation has been a popular spirit across the U.S. since its launch in 2006. We’re finally getting around to reviewing it seven years later, just in time for a brand new bottle design (pictured at right), which is being rolled out later this year. (The recipe hasn’t changed, mind you.)
The botanicals in this gin (distilled from rye) are by and large traditional, though they offer enough uniqueness to be evocative of the Pacific Northwest, where Aviation is made. The roster includes: Juniper, cardamom, lavender, Indian sarsaparilla, coriander, anise seed, and dried orange peel.
Despite a botanical bill that doesn’t raise many eyebrows, this is an exotic and unique gin. The nose is curious, offering almost strange notes of smoke and bacon, backed with spa-like characteristics driven by the lavender. On the tongue, it’s very mild. That smokiness (some may call it earthiness, but it’s distinctly bacon-like, or pork rind-like) is hard to get away from, and it pervades the sipping experience from front to back. Along the way, there’s more to see. Not much juniper, mind you, but some citrus, fresh cardamom pods, and touches of licorice. The finish is lightly sweet, a nice counterbalance to the smokiness. Moderate to light body, it’s an easy and versatile gin, both on its own and as a mixer.