Dogfish Head Jin
Dogfish Head Brewery– Milton, Delaware
Review and Pic by Jim Trotman
Well, I haven’t had their beer. I understand it is quite good and has loyal adherents, our buddy Harold for one. But I think I smell a vanity project. For one, calling the contents of the bottle gin would be a serious stretch, to call it “jin” is just being a little too cute.
Now, this isn’t so far off that it won’t find fans. I just have a wee problem with a gin that would list whole leaf hops as a botanical. Why they tossed cucumbers into the mix I have no idea. I’d never know if it wasn’t right there on the warning…. I mean label. Interesting note is the bottle shown on their website looks different. Maybe they changed things up somewhere in the batches. Why am I going on about the label? Because I think Russ wants me to crank out as least 250 words for these things. He’s never said that, I just imaging him saying it. That happens. Hang around with him enough and you’ll imagine he telling you stuff like that too.
Oddly, the one photo I made of the shows it mostly empty. Russ has some explaining to do. How did that much of it get drunk? I’m thinking this was its second appearance at a gathering.
There was a note of juniper, but not enough in my case to liven up this spirit.
But you may like it. After all, somebody out there claims to be a Jerry Lewis fan. So I’ve heard. I haven’t met one, but I’m sure they are out there.
Dogfish Head is made by the same people that brew Dogfish Head Ale’s in Rehoboth, Delaware – a beach town almost as nice as Nags Head.
Unfortunately their gin was not as big a a hit with me as their ales.
It was very smooth, with no burn, but it did have a hoppiness to it, which made me wonder if they share zany of the same equipment in their processes.
It was a little smoky and was not unpleasant, but I don’t think I’d drink it regularly, if at all.
I agree with my buddies—this is not really a gin that I would classify as such.
So, if you are a gin drinker, even one with a broader definition of what constitutes “gin” and possessed of a sense of adventure that has escaped these three old, traditional farts, this batch still doesn’t make the grade in our book.
Yet, I am going to disagree somewhat with my ‘partners in pursuit of gout and other alcohol related issues.”
Dogfish is first and foremost a highly recommended craft brewer that, at least on the East Coast, has broken out of the “boutique” category and become more of a commercial product–perhaps where Sam Adams was 15 years ago.
The brewery self-identifies itself as producing “off-centered ales for off-centered people.”
Why would we expect the gin, including the spelling, to be anything different?
Dogfish also follows another trend, which Jim noted peripherally in his review, something we have discerned in other craft distilleries.
The trend of which I speak is the tendency of a brewer, vintner, or distiller to expand into other genres of alcoholic beverages that center on their primary product.
Hence, we see grape growing producers, such as those in France, producing gins and vodka where grapes are the neutral sprit and after distillation…somehow retain their ‘notes’ in the allegedly neutral spirit and affect the other traditional botanicals.
When we reviewed White Tiger Gin, (http://gingents.com/uncategorized/white-tiger-gin/) and even TOPO Gin (http://gingents.com/uncategorized/topo-piedmont-gin-a-tar-heel-treat-for-russ/) we found these inclinations.
White Tiger’s Dark Corner Distillery emphasizes moonshine and bourbon and there was no escaping the fact that the wheat/corn mash base found its way into the gin.
TOPO, which makes one of the smoothest moonshine whiskey’s on the planet (I am sipping it now as I type this review) uses a wheat based neutral spirit that all three of us could detect in their gin–which resulted in mixed reviews from our little band of tasters.
Dogfish follows that trend: “A gin distilled with the following four botanicals: juniper berries, coriander seed, cucumbers & whole-leaf hops.”
All three of us would embrace juniper and coriander–traditional botanicals in the London Dry vein.
While Jim is not a fan of cucumber and I usually would reject such a radical introduction of a botanical, I actually love Hendrick’s Gin, where somehow the cucumber and juniper coexist in harmony.
And, in Colorado on a farm where pears, apples ands other citrus fruits abound, we found Cap Rock (http://gingents.com/uncategorized/cap-rock-colorado-organic-gin/) and a gin that tasted like apple cider.
Viva la difference. But please…just because you add some juniper into a spirit, let’s not call it gin (or ‘jin’). It may be a perfectly delectable spirit, but don’t call it gin.
In the case of Dogfish, the “whole-leaf hops” predominate, so call it an IPA spirit..too much alcohol content and the presence of distillation removes it, legally and otherwise from the
“beer” or “ale” category, but at the end of the day, Dogfish is an IPA in another dimension. That single botanical killed it for us.
It is not a gin!
And, for what it is worth, this “jin” is limited production, meaning Dogfish produces it irregularly and one is most likely to find it, if at all, while visiting the brewery/distillery in Delaware.