Calwise Spirits is a new distillery in Paso Robles, which is becoming quite the hotbed of craft distillation. The brainchild of Aaron Bergh, who at 25 is one of the youngest master distillers in the world, Calwise has launched with a trio of spirits: two rums and this, “a native California coastal herb-infused gin” called Big Sur.
Big Sur Gin is distilled from wine grapes and is infused with a collection of 12 herbs and spices, including juniper, sage, yerba santa, bay, fennel, and elderberry. The remainder of the botanical list isn’t disclosed, but it probably sticks more closely to the traditions of London Dry.
Big Sur’s nose is lightly earthy, and slightly exotic with aromas of ginger and cinnamon, and a slightly savory under-note reminiscent of Dijon mustard. The palate is somewhat more traditional, though a bit green and herbal, albeit not particularly focused on juniper. The sage and bay leaf are considerably more prominent, but the body proper has a stronger sweet element running through, reminiscent of apple, pears, and even some tropical notes. There’s more of that earthy character on the back end, evergreen but also tarry and pastoral, with a hint of gunpowder on the finish. There’s a lot going on here, but it’s all quite delightful, offering balance within its savory framework.
A- / $30 / calwisespirits.com