Crater Lake Spirits (formerly known as Bendistillery), based in Bend, Oregon, produces at least a dozen spirits — a few of which we’ve reviewed in earlier incarnations. One of its most visible products is this gin, an untraditional construction of gin that is flavored with only juniper and no additional botanicals. The juniper is infused after the distillation, which gives the finished spirit a very light, yellowish tint.
It’s very unexpected and a bit off-putting to experience this purest essence of juniper. The aroma is pungent with earthy herbaceousness, and the gin is quite sharp on the nose. It smells like juniper, but it doesn’t necessarily smell like gin, as it’s missing those familiar citrus and spice notes that are essential components. The palate is similar: aggressively herbal with a crystal clear juniper attack and — thanks to the high abv — an equally aggressive heat. The finish keeps the pedal down on the juniper, which hangs on the tongue for minutes.
Complex it ain’t, but drinkers who really want to explore juniper at its most elemental should give it a try.
B / $22 / craterlakespirits.com