Review: Gray Whale Gin
Gray Whale Gin is a Sonoma, California-made spirit designed to celebrate the California gray whale. Per the producer, Golden State Distillery, “the spirit takes the drinker on a gustatory journey up the Pacific coastline along the gray whales’ 12,000-mile migration pattern from Baja California through Mendocino (terminating in the Arctic).” The company donates 1% of annual sales to Oceana, a marine-centric conservation charity.
Distilled from a base of corn, six California-grown botanicals are used to flavor the gin: juniper from Big Sur, kombu kelp from Mendocino, almonds from the Capay Valley, limes from Baja California, fir from Sonoma County, and mint from Santa Cruz. That’s a very unusual set of botanicals, so let’s see how it fares in the glass.
On the nose, lime pops immediately — a gin & tonic sans the fizz. The juniper is restrained but present, though other aromas are elusive. The palate kicks off with a heavy earthiness — the kombu, perhaps, plus some of that juniper — before the lime returns. Sharp, perfumed, and edged with that pine needle/forest floor note, it’s not overly complex, but it’s the finish that feels most like something is missing. This could be a go-to gin for someone with a palate tuned to lime and evergreen notes, but here I miss the gentler citrus and layer of spices you get in a more classically designed gin.