Posted by Matt on August 19, 2016
Master distiller and founder of Greenhook Ginsmith, Steven DeAngelo, pours his award-winning local gins, today from 5-7 PM.
Since we opened our doors, we've been huge supporters of the local distilling movement in New York. One of our favorite Brooklyn spirits, Greenhook Ginsmiths in Greenpoint, has been a regular on our shelves for years now, and a store favorite. Today, we'd like to welcome back the founder and master distiller of this exceptional company as he tastes through his exceptional lineup of American Dry, Old Tom, and Beach Plum Gins.
Want to know more?
The founder of Greenhook Ginsmiths, one of Brooklyn’s premiere artisanal distilleries, didn’t take the typical route to becoming a master distiller. Steven DeAngelo began as a capital markets broker, but when the 2008 recession hit, he decided to make a significant change.
Greenhook Ginsmith’s flagship gin, the American Dry, was first released in 2012, an achievement that was preceded by years of planning, practicing, and experimenting (not to mention constructing the distillery in Greenpoint). Steven and his brother Philip were not only some of the first to pioneer distilling in New York City, they also adopted an unconventional distilling technique: vacuum distillation. This unique method, along with their meticulous design and plans, earned them both critical acclaim and loyal followers. But what, exactly, makes this gin so special?
For quality gins made conventionally, a neutral grain spirit is either mixed with botanicals (juniper, citrus, angelica root, etc.) in the still, or the botanicals are placed above the heating spirit in a tray. When the spirit reaches about 174° Fahrenheit (the boiling point of ethanol), the essential oils in the botanicals are extracted and evaporate with the spirit, leaving the water behind. After one or several distillations, the botanicals are fully incorporated into the gin.
In vacuum distillation, oxygen is removed from the still, making it possible to heat the spirit significantly less while still managing to extract the ethanol and botanical essences. In fact, by lowering the temperature, the extremely delicate aromas of the herbs, fruits, and spices are less likely to be damaged. We’re not chemists, but think of the difference between running herbs under warm tap water and throwing them in a near-boiling cauldron. Seems gentler, no?
With this cutting edge technique, Steven and Philip have been able to produce the extremely delicate, aromatic, and floral American Dry Gin. Featuring organic, New York State grown wheat, Tuscan juniper, coriander, chamomile, elderflower, citrus, Thai blue ginger, Ceylon cinnamon, orris root, and elderberry, it has been hailed as “one of the boldest, most interesting gins out there” by The Wall Street Journal. This bottle makes a bright and cheerful addition to any classic cocktail and is quickly becoming a home bar mainstay here in New York City.
The Old Tom Gin is an antique British style that is thought to be a variation on Dutch Genever, an often oak-aged gin distilled to a lower ABV, resulting in a fuller-bodied, expressive spirit that is more akin to modern whiskey than gin. This Old Tom uses a corn distillate as its base and is then infused with botanicals inspired by the 18th century spice trade in Britain. It is aged in ex-bourbon barrels for one year and finished in Oloroso sherry casks; the result is simply delightful in an Old Fashioned.
Finally, we have the Beach Plum Gin Liqueur, inspired once again by a British drink, the Sloe Gin. The traditional Sloe Gin is macerated with sloes, a small fruit related to plums, producing a red liqueur that balances tart fruit with a touch of sweetness, a rich palate, and remarkable depth of flavor. Greenhook Ginsmiths has adapted the recipe to New York, using Long Island Beach Plums, a rare wild plum indigenous to the beaches of New York and somewhat similar to the sloe. Using the traditional method of soaking the plums in gin for 7 months before adding a touch of Turbinado sugar, this delightful and unique liqueur is created. While it’s great in cocktails with lemon or lime, it’s also just delicious on the rocks.