Spirit Review and Recipe: Koval Cranberry Gin
Chicago’s Koval Distillery takes the urban distillery to new heights. Not content to simply make a whiskey, a rye, and a few other dark spirits to be sold in their cocktail bar, Koval creates unique flavor profiles unlike any other distillery. Bourbon with millet instead of rye in the grain bill and a four grain whiskey are all fantastic, and their ginger, rose hip, and chrysanthemum and honey liqueurs are likewise top-notch. We are pleased to report their Cranberry Gin likewise does not disappoint.
No cranberry on the nose, but it has a wonderful juniper, woodsy smell. The juniper smells sweeter and more mellow than you would expect, with some orange peel, rose, and nettles.
One of our tasting panel members said it best, “this is exactly what it says it is.” The cranberry comes through perfectly, with the sweet, bitter and tangy aspects of the cranberry blending perfectly with the gin base. It seems more pine forward than your average London Dry, but it melds exceptionally well with the cranberry, with some pleasant cooling menthol notes lingering on the long finish.
You are probably thinking cranberry gin sounds wonderful, but only around the holidays. Koval takes care of that with a fantastic website with seasonal cocktails for all their spirits. We tried all the cranberry cocktails, and all were excellent. Our favorite was the Autumn Orchard, which we reprint here. It’s also perfect for low ABV spritzes in the summer. On the rocks is a possibility, but the spirit becomes even more animated when simply combined with club soda and a twist of lime. We don’t consider the utility of spirits when we judge them, but what to do with a bottle you are considering buying is something every buyer thinks about. Koval makes it easy.
We also don’t consider the looks of a bottle when we judge it, but its eye pleasing nature was commented on by everyone when we passed it around after judging. On a crowded shelf, it pays to stand out.
This is a simply fabulous spirit. If you don’t like cranberry juice, you will not like this, because it tastes exactly like it with a kick. That simplicity is its greatest virtue.
Spirit: Cranberry Gin
From: Koval Distillery, Chicago, Illinois
Rating: 97 pts
Cocktail Recipe: Autumn Orchard
2 ounces Cranberry Gin
4 ounces apple cider
2 dashes aromatic bitters
Build all ingredients over ice, and garnish with an apple slice.