Death’s Door Gin has been firmly on my drink-this-as-soon-as-possible list. To explain why, I will move swiftly on to the botanical list; there are three…
Now, I love fennel, the seeds, the bulb, it’s all good. Finding a gin that features it as one of only three botanicals was a fortuitous day. The only problem is that it’s rather expensive; at £40 a bottle, it isn’t something you generally buy on the spur of the moment but I was looking to purchase a particular wine for my wife and, in order to use a “spend X and get Y off” voucher, adding a bottle of Death’s Door Gin almost paid for itself. Happy times.
Death’s Door Gin is created on Washington Island in Wisconsin, USA. The gin is named after Death’s Door Passage, a stretch of water between Washington Island and the Door Peninsula; if you are curious, here’s a map.
The juniper berries grow wild on Wisconsin Island and the coriander & fennel are sourced from Wisconsin State. The alcohol is created from Washington Island wheat and organic malted barley from Chilton (also in Wisconsin) and is triple distilled. If you happen to live in Wisconsin, then this gin is, from an environmental point of view, a very low impact gin.
Death’s Door has the same (or at least, very similar) oval/round bottle as Sloane’s Gin. Unlike Sloane’s Gin it has a cork stopper rather than a metal screw-cap and the labels are screen printed.
Enough prattle; more about the gin…
Giving the bottle-top a sniff rewards the nose with crisp, clean juniper – lots of deep, rich, resinous juniper. In the glass there is still that juniper but there is a creaminess to it and a strong hint of fennel. The alcohol scent is there, not brilliantly contained, but not dominant either.
The juniper reminds me of No.3, it’s very crisp and fresh.
There is a bright, clear juniper attack that is, frankly, near mind-blowing. This is then followed by a spike of intense fennel/aniseed which tails-off into a long-tail of mellower fennel. The finish has a pleasingly dry bite with peppery undertones and an almost citrus tingle.
This is very much like the neat gin, just with tonic. I say “just”; it’s very cool and dry, the clarity of the juniper is astounding in the attack and the aniseed spike of fennel is clear and, if anything, slightly tamed and enriched by the tonic – it’s almost like there is proper liquorice-stick in there (not the root, the black, sticky stuff you buy in sweet shops). The finish is soft and cool and somehow contrives to be both sweet and dry at the same time. There’s a long-lingering fennel after-taste with hints of rosemary.
While this is a fairly one-dimensional G&T, this is far from being a bad thing. This is a simple and elegant G&T with bucket-loads of quality. It’s clean, it’s crisp, it’s luscious and very moreish.
I can see that, if you don’t like fennel, then this might not be your cup of tea, but I love it. It has a very simple flavour-profile but gin doesn’t need to be complicated.