Chemist Spirits was founded by Debbie Word in 2018 in Asheville, North Carolina and recently garnered attention by being featured in the 2022 Daytime Emmy Awards gift bag. I wasn’t invited to the event, but I am always excited to try a new gin even if I can’t rub elbows with Susan Lucci. To make their American Gin, Chemist uses 17 botanicals: tangerine peel, peppermint leaf, orris root, rose hips, rose petals, juniper, coriander, bilberry, lemon peel, sweet orange peel, bitter orange peel, green anise, lemon verbena, grapefruit peel, cassia cinnamon, angelica root, and grains of paradise. To make their higher-proof Navy Strength Gin, Chemist uses all of the ones they use for their American Gin as well as cardamom, Spanish orange, galangal, and ginger root. Let’s give them both a try.
Chemist American Gin – This is labelled an American gin, but on the nose and palate, it hits more like London dry. Their website says that using “traditional vapor infusion, the taste of juniper is softened and flavors of citrus, rose, and fragrant mountain botanicals are highlighted” — but after taking a sip, I find piney, peppery juniper notes come first. Later they are joined by lemon citrus, rose petal, light peppermint, and a touch of black licorice. With the gin’s slightly higher proof, the flavors come across boldly and work together well. The higher proof also help the flavors stand up in cocktails as well as with tonic, where the citrus and an herbal note take center stage. That herbal note would also serve well in a Negroni. 90 proof. A- / $49
Chemist Navy Strength Gin – Although it shares most of the same botanicals used to make their American Gin, Chemist’s Navy Strength is quite different. To start, it is pale gold in color, which results from the gin being infused with Spanish orange and Thai ginger after distillation. On the nose, juniper takes a back seat to gentle notes of orange peel, mint, ginger, and light licorice. The palate follows suit, but here the notes are bold. Very bold. The orange peel comes in a citrus burst that is accompanied by a lovely, oily mouthfeel, and the mint and ginger leave the mouth feeling cool afterward. The proof point is high and hits hard on the nose and palate, but some people are going to love drinking this gin straight because of its well defined flavors and warming burn. I found it hard to put down. Not surprisingly, the higher proof helps it stand out with tonic and in cocktails. If you can handle the heat, this one’s a winner. 114 proof. A / $55
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