Most may think of Dogfish Head as a maker of incredibly hop-heavy IPAs (and some other beers), but lately the business has expanded into spirits — a sort of natural progression in the craft beverage world these days. The company has more than a dozen distilled products on the market now. Today we look at two of them, a gin and a whiskey-based bottled cocktail.
Dogfish Head Distilling Compelling Gin – This is the company’s Analog Vodka redistilled with juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, black peppercorn, lemon peel, green cardamom, hibiscus, orris root, orange peel, lime peel, kaffir lime leaves, and cinnamon. That’s not an incredibly unusual botanical bill, but Compelling Gin is quite a surprise from the start. Those lime leaves are immediately pungent, alongside plenty more citrus — orange and lemon — really overwhelming the aromatics, at least at first. The gin soon settles down and allows a more earthy, pungent character to take hold, the coriander bumped up a bit too much, overwhelming even the juniper. The palate finds much of the above elements in balance, a surprisingly fresh and pungent coriander character kicking things off, followed by plenty of soothing evergreen/menthol notes. The finish returns to citrus, with plenty of juniper hanging on for the conclusion. Powerful but versatile, this is a vibrant and exciting gin with lots to recommend it. 88 proof. A- / $30
Dogfish Head Distilling Sonic Archeology Prohibition Whiskey Cocktail – A melange of Dogfish Head’s whiskey, rum, and brandy, blended with honey, lemon, and pomegranate juices. Ready to drink out of the bottle. I’m not sure how big pomegranate juice was during Prohibition, but this concoction drinks a bit sweet for my taste. The combination of a multitude of juices and spirits come together to create a bit of a jumble, hyper-sweetened but also quite tart at the same time. The cough syrup medicine has been overused, perhaps, but that’s my first impression here, albeit one which is tempered with time in glass and ice melt. That said, the trio of spirits never quite shine; I don’t think this would be all that different as a rum or brandy exclusive. 50 proof. B / $28