Review: Castle & Key Sacred Spring Vodka and Roots of Ruin Gin
Its recent releases also include a pair of white spirits that will be part of C&K’s permanent lineup — one vodka and one gin. Both are unusually crafted from a whiskey mash base that is redistilled to a higher (ostensibly flavor neutralizing) proof. But let’s see how that pans out.
Castle & Key Sacred Spring Vodka – Made from Castle & Key’s traditional bourbon mash of 73% white corn, 10% rye, and 17% malted barley. There’s no mistaking this vodka’s whiskey origins, and the nose has a funky, tough-to-place character that is decidedly un-vodka-like. Notes of green herbs, heavy with sage, start things off, followed by a meaty note akin to roast pork. As it develops in the glass, I get an off-putting spring onion and garlic note, which is not exactly perfect for, say, a cosmo. The palate finds a better but unsteady balance with some sweetness in the mix, driven by almond skin, coconut husk, and some milk chocolate. On the finish, the vodka’s got more of a raw ethanol note, but its inherent, dirty earthiness lingers alongside. Quite off-putting at times. 80 proof. Reviewed: Batch #1. C- / $27
Castle & Key Roots of Ruin Gin – The gin is made from Castle & Key’s rye mashbill: 17% yellow corn, 63% rye, and 20% malted barley, redistilled into a vodka and vapor-infused with eight botanicals, including chamomile, ginger, rosemary, licorice root, lemon verbena, juniper, coriander, and angelica root. The whiskey-mash base spirit makes for a much more natural companion to the gin botanicals, the natural earthiness of the distillate pairing well with the more savory botanicals, including licorice, angelica, and chamomile, the lattermost of which is particularly appealing in this blend, especially on the palate, which bursts with floral tea notes and some of the verbena-driven citrus. The juniper could stand to be pumped up a bit here, and citrus peel is notably lacking, but otherwise the gin shows a fine balance. It’s still on the rustic side — which feels intended — but has a surprising delicacy that is not at all “ruinous.” 106 proof. Reviewed: Batch #1. B+/ $33
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