It's been a few months since you put away your holiday decorations and bid farewell to seasonal shrubbery—but wait. There's still hope for the serious drinker who pines for the festive flavor of grand conifers—Cascade Mountain Gin from the Bendistillery in Bend, Oregon. Crafted with wild juniper berries from central Oregon and mountain spring water, this gin practically promises a Christmas tree in a bottle. Let's see if it delivers.
The party starts in the glass with a golden straw color (a true rarity in gin). The nose gives you juniper right away, but it is much more subtle and warm than a typical London dry. There are also citrus zest and floral notes, not a lot of botanicals here.
Tasting yields that evergreen sensation in earnest—this gin is piney, earthy, and dank, but it is not a one-trick sip. There's also salt, heat, more citrus, and a vaguely turpentine-like finish. It's thick, almost grainy, and packs a boozy punch at 95 proof. None of the flavors dominate and the result is surprisingly well balanced.
Cascade Gin would make a lovely martini (wet, of course), or drink it on the rocks with a splash of lime and soda. The subtlety of this unusual spirit would be lost in a G&T. While juniper-forward, it remains firmly in the new style of American gin, with its warmth and prominent citrus flavors. Halfway between the softness of a Plymouth and the juniper-bomb of a Beefeater, Cascade has a little bit of something for every gin drinker.