Death's Door American Gin
Death's Door not only has an awesome name (very important) but it is a truly great gin.
We currently have a plethora of gin in stock but I felt Death's Door deserved a little bit of the limelight!
I hope this gives us all the impetus to pick it off the shelf and enjoy it sip by sip for its complexity and smoothness. Similar to a London dry it hits all the right notes without being bitter.
Given the smoothness of this gin I have added a cocktail idea at the bottom which is quick and simple to make but still does Death's Door justice.
About Death's Door.
Washington Island, Wisconsin is at the heart and soul of everything produced by Death's Door Spirits.
This 22 square mile island hosts 700 miles of uninterrupted shoreline, protected coves and inlets, as well as acres upon acres of open land with rolling hills and hardwood stands. Throughout the 1950's Washington Island was once known for its potato farming. Washington Island “spuds” made their way around the world for their quality and flavor. However, in the early 1970's, vertical integration in the potato industry left Washington Island without contracts to grow its crops. Without any customers, island farmers stopped planting and instead switched to other jobs that were more tourism-based, or moved off the island to find a livelihood elsewhere.
Fast-forward to 2005, when a small group began exploring and reinvigorating farming on Washington Island. Armed with enough seed to plant 5 acres and enough know-how to get it done — brothers Tom and Ken Koyen began growing wheat on the island. Through the assistance of the Michael Fields Institute, a specific variety of wheat was selected for the island that would grow well in the unique maritime conditions.
What started as wheat to use as flour at the Washington Island Hotel has since grown into a select specialty grain for use in Capital Brewery's Island Wheat Ale and all of Death's Door Spirits products.
Since 2005, Death's Door Spirits and Capital Brewery have supported the farmers’ efforts on Washington Island to expand the acreage of hard red winter wheat from five to 1,200, not to mention organic certification was achieved for all of the crops in 2010. Good going and a testament to the effort made by all involved to live up to the term craft distilling.
What started as an experiment to see if agriculture could be restored, promoted and conserved on Washington Island, has blossomed into a full-fledged business with the construction of the company’s new state-of-the art distillery in Middleton. Completed on June 4th, 2012, the facility is the largest craft distillery in Wisconsin and one of the largest in the region with an annual capacity in excess of 250,000 cases.
The gin’s name, “Death's Door” was taken from the body of water between Door County peninsula and Washington Island from which the team get their organic hard red winter wheat. Potowatami and Winnebego tribesmen originally named the waterway, while the French called it Port de Morts (the port of the dead) when trading in the area to ward off other traders.
Deaths Door Gin has a surprisingly simple botanical mix of organic Juniper berries, coriander and fennel. Using juniper berries that grow wild on Washington Island with coriander and fennel sourced from within the state, Death's Door Spirits is able to showcase how complementary and complex simple expressions can be.
Predominant tastes of piney juniper berries emerge up front, with the customary spicy citrus notes from the coriander seeds next and a whack of fennel to boot. Tasted neat, there is also a touch of sweetness that emerges on the finish too. Bottled at 47% ABV, Deaths Door is a smooth, lively gin that shines in cocktails.
All American hero savior stories aside for a second, the gin’s worth seeking out on taste alone. It’s defiant and distinct, a feat that many gins fail to achieve. The fact that its focus lies on craft and locally sourced produce makes it a spirit with soul and adds authenticity. If you see it, try it out, you may very well enjoy it…
Cocktail Corner - The SouthSide!
Southside is a translucent, green wonder cocktail that has long languished in the shadows of its hyperactive cousin, the Mojito. While the latter is a rum infused party quencher, the former is a more dignified affair, though can be jazzed up with soda water to make a Southside Fizz, or with Champagne to make a Southside Royale.
8 mint leaves
60ml Gin (we recommend using Death's Door Gin)
30ml fresh lime juice
15ml sugar syrup
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake. Fine strain into you're vessel of choice and enjoy!
For those who wish to seek a story behind this prohibition classic I have added one of the many versions available should you need some 'light' reading.
A brief, inebriated history
The Southside’s origin tail is as muddled as the mint within it. The fact that there are three variations adds complication to the tale, but it is thought that the Southside Royale was debuted during the Prohibition period.
The earliest story to mention the drink comes from the Southside Sportsmen's Club in long island during the 1890s, when Fizz’s were at the height of their popularity. The Southside Fizz was known to have been drunk here, and no wonder – the refreshing minty flavour it carries would have been the perfect antidote following a game of sport.
Harry Craddock, author of The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930) featured a recipe for the Southside in his book and does not omit the soda, so it seems to suggest that the Southside Fizz was the first in the Southside family to come forward. To see Craddock’s recipe, scroll down to the bottom of this article.
A similar cocktail was drunk on the Southside of Chicago in the 1920s, hence another reason behind the cocktail’s name. During this time, Chicago was a turbulent area under gang rule. Joe Saltis, Frank McErlane and Al Capone were the three major bootleggers controlling the South of the city. A line between North and South was distinctly drawn, and one of the many distinctions between these areas was the way they served their drinks; North side mobsters – with access to more superior spirits – drank gin and ginger ale, while those in the South used lemon juice and sugar to mask the harsh taste of the black market alcohol.
Another place from which the Southside is said to have originated is the 21 Club in New York City. The club, established by Jack Kreindler and Charlie Berns, was one of the great Speakeasy’s during Prohibition and was designed so that the bar and all of its alcohol could be quickly hidden via an intricate maze of levers and chutes should the police show up. The pair were never caught, and the club still exists today (and still serves up a mean Southside).
I hope this give you guys some inspiration to crack some Southsides out this weekend!
- Kevin Metcalfe