GSN Review: Rogue Spirits Gins

Fourteen can be an awkward age for some. But for Rogue Spirits, it was time to grow up and get a new wardrobe. That’s why they’re putting their two-year-old Dead Guy Whiskey, three-year-old Oregon Rye Whiskey, five-year-old Single Malt Whiskey and two gins – Spruce Gin and Pinot Spruce Gin – in bottles that make them look their age.

Back in 2004, then-Mayor Bud Clark cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the first Rogue distillery in Portland’s Pearl District. Oregon’s first rum distillery since Prohibition had arrived but they were just getting started. Over the next three years, they hand crafted four spirits: three styles of rum and their Spruce Gin, introduced in January of 2007. The more recently released Pinot Spruce Gin has been aged for approximately six months in used barrels from the Chehalem Winery in Newberg, Oregon.

Both gins contain Spruce, Juniper Berries, Ginger, Fresh Cucumber, Orris Root, Orange Peel, Lemon Peel, Tangerine, Grains of Paradise, Angelica Root, Coriander & Free Range Coastal Water.

Spruce Gin (90 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Quite a bouquet of fruit, cucumber, spruce and juniper. There’s even a surprising note of banana.
Taste: A heft of cucumber on the initial entry, quickly followed by dry and crisp juniper. The citrus takes a bit longer to arrive, but leaves a refreshing lemon-orange flavor.
Finish: Smooth, clean and remarkably fresh tasting. The combination of veg and fruit makes for a lively exit.
Overall: A lovely gin in the new world style. Ideal for complex gin based cocktails that need body.
GSN Rating: A

Pinot Spruce Gin (90 proof)
Visual: Light pinkish apricot.
Nose: Mostly juniper, but also a fruity touch of red wine. Very slight oak.
Taste: Most of the subtleties found in Rogue’s flagship gin have been greatly softened by the time spent in an ex-wine cask. Instead, a warm and fruity sweetness pushes forward and teases the palate.
Finish: Fairly long, with a lot of the fruit staying on for a lengthy visit.
Overall: This is almost a cocktail in itself.  Try stirring a few ounces with some ice, strain into a coupe, and garnish with an orange twist.  An unusual gin that works on its own, but also will play well with non-vermouth based concoctions.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Rogue


GSN Review: Rogue Spirits Whiskies

The Rogue Revolution began in 1988 in the basement of the first Rogue Public House on Lithia Creek in Ashland, Ore. where American Amber Ale and Oregon Golden quickly became popular brews. Before long, founder Jack Joyce was looking for a second location.

In 1989, Jack found himself in Newport, Ore., stuck in an unusual snowstorm when he met Mohava Niemi, aka “Mo” (founder of Mo’s Restaurants) who extended her signature hospitality and fed him some of her famous clam chowder. Over a bowl, she told him she’d always dreamed of living above a bar and described the perfect spot for the next Rogue Brewpub: Mo had a large building with three apartments upstairs, a sweater shop, an art gallery, 1,100 sq. ft. of empty storefront and an 800-square-foot garage.

Mo offered to rent Jack the vacant storefront and the garage under two conditions:

1. Rogue promises to “feed the fisherman,” Mo’s way of saying give back to the community. The vast majority of Newport’s residents are fisherman who work on the waterfront, a huge part of Newport’s economy.

2. A photo of Mo in a bathtub forever hangs over the bar. It’s still there today and a copy of the photo hangs in every Rogue Meeting Hall.

The Rogue Bayfront Public House soon opened in that storefront and John Maier, who joined Rogue in May of 1989, brewed the first batch of Rogue beer there in the back room. Before long, this would become the world headquarters of Rogue Ales & Spirits when the Ashland location was forced to close due to flooding. The brewpub in the back of the Bayfront Public House would eventually be moved to a larger facility on South Beach, which is now also home to Brewer’s on the Bay, Rogue House of Spirits, Rogue Spirits Distillery and Rogue Rolling Thunder Barrel Works.

Dead Guy Whiskey is distilled from the same malts as Rogue’s Platinum medal-winning Dead Guy Ale, including the Rogue Farms Dare™ & Risk™ Malts grown on the Rogue Barley Farm in Oregon’s Tygh Valley. Dead Guy Whiskey is Ocean-aged by both the Pacific Ocean and nearby Yaquina Bay.

Dead Guy Whiskey (80 proof)
Visual: Light gold.
Nose: Quite malty and beer-like. A bit of a funky amalgamation of scents. Wet fur, old hardwood, damp leaves and dark beer.
Taste: My initial impression is of fresh tobacco leaves and tanned leather. Very dry and intensely compact bundle of flavors. Burnt caramel, brown bread, and toasted bread all make appearances here.
Finish: Long, with an almost effervescent quality at the base of the palate.
Overall: Very different, but in line with other beer based whiskies I’ve had. Definitely unusual and of a kind, this will appeael to those who like to experiment.
GSN Rating: B+

Oregon Rye Whiskey uses Rogue Farms Dream™ Rye, Rogue Farms Dare™ & Risk™ Malt; Pacman Yeast & Free Range Coastal Water.

Oregon Rye Whiskey (80 proof)
Visual: Medium gold.
Nose: Nicely balanced with a punchy rye kick. Woody and rustic, but tamed into a friendly beast.
Taste: A lovely fresh rye loaf flavor. The spiciness is tempered somewhat by the malt blend, but this only serves to meld the flavors in a more beneficial way.  Bakery in the glass.
Finish: Medium long with some sweeter caramel notes coming out towards the fade.
Overall: Good gosh, but this is a wonderful rye whiskey. Perfect on its own, but eminently mixable in cocktails.
GSN Rating: A

Rogue Farms Oregon Single Malt Whiskey uses Rogue Farms Risk™ Malt, Free-Range Coastal Water & Rogue’s Proprietary Pacman Yeast.

Oregon Single Malt Whiskey (80 proof)
Visual: Darkening orange
Nose: Lots of high ester notes laid over a softer and fresh oaky base. Quite bright and bouncy.
Taste: Quite light and smooth. A hint of vanilla and caramel, but more of a soft malt-forward palate. There’s also more than a touch of salinity.
Finish: Medium, with a slight bitter wood note that cleanses the palate.
Overall: Really easy to drink this one. The aging is perfectly balanced, leaving the whiskey to shine.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Rogue