GSN Review: Myer Farm Distillers

Myer DistilleriesMyer Farms is a new distillery located not far from me in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.  The farm itself has been in production for over 200 years, and the current owners are 5th generation farmers.  They use certified organic winter wheat grown on their own estate for all of their spirited products.  In spite of a large portfolio, they have only been in production since June of 2012.  They utilize a 650 liter copper pot still hand-crafted in Germany, as well as a sixteen foot column still for producing vodka.  Notably, they do not chill filter their spirits, which lends them more flavor and body.  Later this year they expect to have corn, wheat, rye and barrel aged bourbon whiskies available.

Myer Farm Vodka (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: A creamy, almost nougat-like scent, with vanilla.
Taste: More vanilla, with the addition of a peppery cashew flavor.  Surprisingly sweet.
Finish: Fairly long, with lingering sweet sugary notes.
Overall: It could do with some refining, to bring out a crispness and more minerality.  As it stands, it seems a lot like a vanilla-tinged vodka.
GSN Rating: B-

Myer Farm White Dog (88.4 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Wet leaves and black pepper.
Taste: Quite light and smooth considering it’s almost 90 proof.  There’s a hefty amount of spice working here as well, to its advantage.  A creaminess hits midway through the tasting and leaves your mouth with a full, rich flavor just bordering on sweetness.
Finish: Medium long, with the memory of sweetness and lingering spice.
Overall: Even though this is made with winter wheat, I am reminded of biting into fresh, young sweet corn.  Quite interesting, and will work well as an adjunct to silver tequilas and mezcals.
GSN Rating: B

Myer Farm Gin (85.4 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Sweet spices, with coriander and cinnamon playing older sibling to the juniper.  A soft nose more in keeping with Genever than London Dry style.
Taste: A sweet gin, but not malty like a Genever.  This is more in line with the Old Tom style, with the addition of a sly orange citrus tang.  The botanical bill is intriguing, but nothing stands out as prevalent or obtrusive.
Finish: A slight bitterness keeps things from staying too sweet, and some interesting mineral notes with a dry bite end things well.
Overall: I like this gin.  It has enough body to support whatever you might throw at it in a cocktail blend.  The sweetness and simplicity also makes it a throwback to the days before gins were adding esoteric ingredients to their infusions.
GSN Rating: A-

Myer Farm Ginger Flavored Vodka (40 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Not a lot of ginger on the nose, but it has a dry and crisp scent more in keeping with traditional, non-flavored vodkas.
Taste: Smooth, fresh and with the slightest hint of heat.  You’d be hard pressed to say that it is ginger, but this has a subtle and prickly warmth that elevates it beyond their regular vodka.
Finish: The sweetness I picked up in the regular vodka is still here, albeit tempered by the ginger.  The heat actually builds over time, leaving your mouth with an almost fresh ginger burn minutes later.  Nicely done.
Overall: This works nicely in conjunction with sodas (highballs), and as a shot.  Quite tasty.
GSN Rating: A-

(They also make a White Dog Corn Whiskey and a Blueberry Orange Vodka which I was not sent for review. – ed.)

For more information go to: Myer Farm Distillers

GSN Review: House Spirits Distillery


Portland is a hotbed of creative drinking culture.  Coffee roasters, trend-setting cocktail bars, and even a comedy TV show entitled, “Portlandia” features “Wild Flag” lead singer and guitarist Carrie Brownstein.  So, it follows that one of the leading distilleries of the Oregon city thinks outside of the box, forging their own spirited trail beyond the usual vodka, gin and whiskey portfolio of many other independent distilleries.

White Dog is currently a white-hot spirit, but there still aren’t a whole lot of them being produced.  Aquavit is even more obscure and difficult to locate on your local liquor stores’ shelves.  Coffee liqueur is often no more than alcoholic simple syrup with artificial flavoring.  The only liquor House Spirits creates, that even comes close to being typical is gin; and even that is a unique hybrid of styles.

House Spirits is a company that bears watching, because they are leading the way in New World spirits and liqueurs.

White Dog (100 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Reminiscent of wet leaves.  There’s a hint of junmai sake as well.
Taste: Fairly intense alcohol, but not as hot as some moonshines.  Barley sugar candy and a dry, resin-like character.  Mild pepper spice.
Finish: Tannic and almost tea-like.  The pepper spice comes through in the back of the throat.
Overall: Simple, yet effective.  By using malted barley instead of corn, the overall character is less sweet and more focused on the inherent grain.
GSN Rating: B

Aviation American Gin (84 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Immediate juniper notes, with some citrus.
Taste: Sweeter than I was expecting, and more silky.  The mix of botanicals is well-balanced with the spirit, creating a cohesive whole that is in line with the major English Dry gins.
Finish: Short and refreshing.  The citrus colors the palate well, almost with a tinge of lemon.
Overall: Very well done gin, and one that isn’t trying to be edgy.  Perfect in everything from a G&T to your next Martini.
GSN Rating: A

Festlig Aquavit Krogstad (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Caraway, anise, light sweetness.
Taste: Sweet and loaded with anise up front.  The caraway comes through a bit later, but gives it the traditional Akavit flavor.  Simple, yet effective.
Finish: Medium long with a black licorice pop.
Overall: Great for eating traditional Scandinavian foods, especially those including dill, salmon and pickles.  Best drunk ice-cold.
GSN Rating: B+

Coffee Liqueur (40 proof)
Visual: Deep dark brown with lighter tan sediment.  (Shake before serving!)
Nose: Remarkably like fresh ground coffee beans.
Taste: Coffee.  The alcohol is not nearly noticeable, instead this is like strong iced coffee that’s had just the hint of sugar added.
Finish: Long and lingering coffee flavor goes on for quite a while.
Overall: The best coffee flavored liqueur I’ve had in years.  Not overly sweet like many, and with a fresh-brewed taste that is entirely natural.  This is exactly what it’s trying to be, and it excels!
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: House Spirits