A simple name for an award-winning product, Gin is this year’s Best in Show at the third annual Honey Spirits Competition. The simplistically named spirit is anything but simple, however, with a base spirit distilled 100% from honey and flavored with botanicals.
It was the first time a spirit distilled from honey won the Best in Show award, and we spoke with Chris Roedl, proprietor of Egg Harbor, Wis.-based Hatch Distilling Co., about the big win and Gin.
What prompted the simplistic moniker of just Gin for this spirit?
All of our products are named for the TTB class and type that they are. Our vodka is Vodka, our gin is Gin. We like concise.
Why does a spirit distilled from honey make such a great base in a gin?
We make all of our clear spirits from 100% honey base. I am a beekeeper, and I supplement some of our honey needs from our own hives. We distill from honey because it is innovative, local and high quality. We see “sweet cream” and “creamy” as a common theme in the tasting notes feedback we get. I believe it is a byproduct of honey and the yeast we utilize. I think that flavor profile plays well with the botanicals in our Gin.
What are the biggest challenges with using honey as the primary distillate in Gin?
Cost of goods. We are able to offset some of the cost with integration by producing some of the honey in house. We work with a Wisconsin-based commercial producer to source the remainder. It is a challenge to be cost competitive with producers who are utilizing less expensive fermentables for their base distillate.
Judges' notes include "nose" adjectives of juniper, pine and sweet cream. Anything you would add here about Gin in terms of the nose or flavor profile?
I think the adjectives are spot on. I would say “floral” falls in right behind those flavors.
What is your personal favorite aspect about Gin, especially regarding the honey in the spirit?
We strive for a balanced flavor profile in our Gin. Not trying to slap anyone with juniper flavor but have enough to still meet the classification requirements. I think honey distillate is a great base spirit to pair with botanicals.
For the full list of Honey Spirits Competition winners, visit http://honeyspiritscompetition.com/.