Gin Gents

Monthly Archive: April 2018



Distillery: St. Petersburg Distillery, St. Petersburg, FL

Style: New World/Florida emphasis

ABV: 45%

Price: $28-$30, hard to find outside of western Florida


Jim’s Review

Some endeavors you just have to love. St. Petersburg Distillery’s hometown pride is obvious. Sure, it would be easy to make hay on a location, but a once-over of their website and it is easy to see their civic love is genuine, and not just marketing schmaltz.
Okay… restraining myself from slipping too far into my Aunt Esther’s Yiddishisms but that may be difficult given subject environs.

Oy veh… For this, they made a gin? Okay. Really. I’ll stop.

Actually, this may be the most charming labeling on a gin ever. Yet on that count, we have been burned before. One of the best labels we have encountered, Uncle Val’s [Horses whinny in the background a la “Frau Blucher”) let us down. It seems sometimes the most plain and simply packaged gins win out. See Boodles (new label) Dingle, No. 209, etc. Those with more filigree tend to disappoint, with rare exception. That’s my schtick, anyway.

Not to be a noodge, but I will say here that this one lands in the middle. I will not seek it out, but for fans of American style gins, where juniper is but a sub-note and where florality is a big plus, Old St. Pete will find an audience. And, it has its merits.

For one, it is entirely welcoming on the first sniff. Pleasant floral tones backed up with citrus leaning heavy to grapefruit beckon. Now, when I want a gin, grapefruit isn’t tops  on my list of flavorings, but I also understand that dinosaurs like me are becoming scarcer and I don’t want to step on toes. No one is gonna call me a schmuck.

On a quick taste, one could chock up all the intermingled flavorings to being mostly anise, and I’d have a hard time talking you out of it. That was my first perception as well.

But on closer, undivided attention to tasting all alone with no interruptions, I found a more mellow, pleasing mouth-feel and was able to discern the some of the various flavorings and they were not altogether off-putting.

Still, as with other floral-heavy gins, that long aftertaste was a dud for me. I don’t mean to kvetch. Those who like flowery-herbal aftertastes will disagree. And I’m good with that, although those guys are Meshuggah.

Lucky for me, I had some Booth’s around to follow it up and wash that lingering stuff away. Gin should come, conquer, and vanish. These American gins just can’t seem to end their presence in a timely manner. If they can pull that off, they may get more converts from the London Dry community… as if they cared to.

Russ’s Review


I don’t usually like to poke fun at websites, but one gin-reviewing locale described Old St. Pete thusly:

“Crisp and clean on the nose, coriander chiefly, but a smidge of juniper on it as well. A little bit of sweet spice underneath it as well.

Assertive palate with loud botanicals. Juniper, sweet citrus, floral coriander, turning citrusy/spicy (but still coriander) mid-palate. Bitter grapefruit zest, orange and lemon a bit later, a momentary flash of anise/fennel, with a long spice-laden finish, cardamom rising from the ashes with peppery hints of nutmeg/allspice on the edges as well.”

Yes, and I’m surprised the soupcon of #2 pencil escaped them, as did the fact the lemons carried the distinct flavors only found in Mrs. Smerzanky’s small 3-acre lemon tree grove just outside of Estero. And, of course, all of those notes are on the product’s website, so no wonder they tasted them!

But let’s get down to the real world, where flavors don’t ‘rise from the ashes’ but go down in a gulp. Afterall, this is gin, not a single-malt whiskey. Or is it whisky?

But I digress.

On the nose Old St. Pete shows the promise of being a London Dry gin. There is a hint of juniper and citrus. And alcohol, which the folks at the other website apparently missed. Not sure how. It’s mild but present.

The label touts the use of Florida botanicals in addition to the usual suspects, in this case lemons, oranges and grapefruit. And all of that impart a ton of flavor, and I agree with Jim that the anise is there in some quantity. It comes across as licorice to me and I’m not a big fan of that in gin or those southern European liqueurs either.

I tried it as a martini and came away confused.  It is neither harsh nor hot—alcohol isn’t the problem. Nor is it overly floral or spicy. It it smooth with no bite.

But its damn robust and there are so many flavors in there it just doesn’t qualify as a gin martini in my book with OSP in the mix.

So I went a different route.

I tried it with Q Tonic, industrial strength Canada Dry tonic, and also mixed it into a Tom Collins.

It holds its own here and then some. Juniper is barely a trace, so it loses some interest for me right off the bat.

The cardamon isn’t rising from the ashes, it’s the lemon flavor and maybe a bit of cinnamon on the nose if you want to go that far sniffing your gin. You don’t need to dig deep to seek it out, but most of us just want to shake our gin gingerly over ice and pour into a martini glass, or add it to tonic water and expect it to taste, well, like gin.

When all is said and done,  the citrus elements seem just right for the torrid summer Florida heat, and it was in St. Pete where I sampled this during a very hot July visit. It does overpower the tonic and almost anything else you might mix it with, and some may think the anise and the aroma of cardamon might come across as floral.
I liked it enough to give it another whirl, but it isn’t a gin I’d go to first. But for some variety, it’s one I’d keep around when I wanted to change the pace.

My rating:


Tamiami Gin

Distillery: Florida Cane Distillery, Ybor City, Tampa, Florida

Price: $25

ABV: 43%

Style: ‘Above and between Old Tom, London Dry and New World”- Flordia Cane website description. Who are we to argue?


Photos by Jim Trotman

Jim’s Review


Holy Smokes. Tasting this small batch gin from Florida was a treat and interesting. Juniper was in there, but more subdued than say, a Booth’s, a crisp bit of cucumber made itself known, but as far as major flavors go, I must say it was smoke.

Yes, smoke.

Or was that an impression?

Or was someone burning something between Russ’s house and mine and I just caught a whiff of that?

The company stresses the base of a pure sugar cane spirit for the base. It should since the maker is the Florida CANE Distillery of Ybor City.

The folks at FCD are quite adamant (and proud) that this gin has only 4 botanicals to supply its flavor profile and not a word about any of them being smoked. Those ingredients, besides the cane neutral spirits, are: Organic Coriander, Cucumber, Juniper and Tangerine (yes, Florida tangerine.)

Like other distilleries who dabble in the gin world, their main product lines are several flavored vodkas. These folks also produce moonshine and whiskey. But I would not know anything about how those taste.

The gin was quite pleasant. My one qualm being the smokiness I detected was a little bit of a distraction, a distraction that I got over as the resulting empty bottle can attest.

The price of $24.99 for a 750 ml bottle places it right beside our gold standard, Boodles in affordability. My figuring is that Tamiami Gin will appeal to folks familiar with that region.

Fun fact: The name Tamiami is not a reference to any long gone American Indian tribe, but a contraction of the phrase, “Tampa to Miami.” I suppose that is better than the other way around.

Maimpa just doesn’t have that swing.

Russ’s Review

I was lucky enough to visit the distillery with my wife while on vacation, so we were able to sample everything–from their flavored vodka’s, which includes the aptly named Fire Ant, and a host of flavored moonshines.

Even with small samples, our palates were burned out so we purchased a mess of their products from the liquor store and brought them back to North Carolina, where one would have better odds of being hit by space junk than finding any Florida gins in our state-owned liquor stores.

I didn’t notice the smoke as much as Jim.

What I did discover was a fine balance between the juniper-forward style we love and citrus, which I’m beginning to appreciate as a background note.

Happily, it didn’t taste like a fruit-flavored vodka and even with coriander, it avoided any floral sensations.

I often describe wines that are light, reds and white, as “quaffable” versus the heavy, tannin-laden reds one pairs with steak, or the buttery, oaky chardonnays that pair with creamy sauces over pasta, seafood and the like,

Likewise, some gins are meant for sipping, especially in a martini, where you’re basically drinking gin straight up, others taste like jet fuel, and then there are those gins that are happy on the rocks without accompaniment, shaken and poured, or mixed with a tonic or other elixir.

Tamiami fits in there well. Sip it in the winter, or pour it into a tall glass with your favorite tonic and hang out by the pool.

Hell, I might even mix it up on the rocks in my 36-ounce Yeti and hang out on the deck all day!

As I noted, the juniper holds its own, with just enough presence to comprise three of the five basketball players on the court.

My next sensation was the presence citrus, which makes sense since we have Florida tangerine and coriander in the mix, but it was definitely in the background, where it belongs. And the citrus didn’t express itself as tangerine as much as it did a more bracing zip to the gin. It balances the juniper.

Exiting, the cucumber was there, but nothing as overwhelming as Hendrick’s, one of the few non-juniper forward gins I can drink.

It’s incredibly refreshing and I really want to get my hands on some more since I love the Tampa area and can pretend I’m enjoying it on a 70-degree winter day in Florida while it’s blowing a gale in 30-degree weather here on the Outer Banks.

I give this gin four Churchill’s.