Washington, D.C. is a notoriously boozy town, and it’s been that way even when booze was extremely hard to come by. Green Hat Gin takes its name from George Cassiday, dubbed the “Man in the Green Hat,” who was one of many bootleggers to roam the halls of Congress during Prohibition, delivering illegal hooch by the suitcase in his signature green felt hat to politicians, “wet” and “dry” alike. When Green Hat Gin hit the shelves in 2011, it was the first alcohol to have been legally distilled in the District since Prohibition.
Green Hat was recently purchased by industry heavyweight MGP and is now their first proprietary gin brand. Despite the increased distribution that such a sale may eventually entail, production will remain at the Ivy City distillery in Northeast D.C. The Original Batch, a juniper-forward blend balanced with traditional botanicals, is the main offering, but the brand also has a Navy Strength, Citrus/Floral, and cordial expression, all of which we’ll get to at a later date. For now, let’s see how the flagship Green Hat fares, shall we?
The aroma is definitely juniper forward, but I wouldn’t peg this one, off the bat, as classic or London style. Notes of pine resin and sweet juniper berries have a softness, almost creaminess, that differentiates them from sharper, bolder traditional gins. Plenty of spice complements this walk in the woods, as well, with secondary notes of coriander, fennel, and cinnamon that emerge as the gin opens in the glass. The palate is crisp and light-bodied with a soft introduction of sweet juniper and grassy, forest floor notes in almost equal measure. Lemony citrus brightens things into the mid-palate as a soft heat develops, but by the time the gentle finish arrives, the experience reverts to a more herbal and earthy conclusion with traces of dried sage and lemongrass. In a cocktail, Green Hat cuts a more classic figure, as some of the subtler qualities get overwhelmed by the juniper and citrus. Either way, it’s an approachable and enjoyable gin.