One of these two new producers is Watershed Distillery, located in the Grandview area of town, tucked away in a light industrial/warehouse park. They currently offer two spirits for sale. In no-nonsense style, they call them Vodka from Watershed Distillery, and Gin from Watershed Distillery. A bourbon, whose name I can only speculate upon, has begun production and now needs only the magic of time and oak to be ready for market.
I didn’t know of Watershed until just after New Year’s, when I was wandering the aisles of a new liquor store near my house, and stumbled across their gin. Any new gin that is added to Ohio’s meager selection is good news, but when I saw where this gin was made I was pretty darn excited.
Just ask my long-suffering wife who had to put up with me sailing into the house brandishing the bottle like it was a winning lottery ticket….
Gin from Watershed Distillery is a light, citrus-accented liquor in the New American school of gins. It has a distinctively bright and zesty character that is evident from when you first tug the stopper from the wide, cylindrical style bottle. The juniper is there, of course, but it isn’t heavy. The other botanicals consist of four citrus zests, lime, lemon, orange, and grapefruit, along with cinnamon, coriander, and allspice. They balance very well.
I asked co-owner Greg Lehman how they arrived at their formulation. They experimented with a wide variety of styles, with many test batches of each, to see which ones they could execute well. Then, through a combination of market research and personal preference, they settled on the citrus-influenced, New American style and perfected their recipe.
After he told me all this, I jammed a camera in his face without warning and made him give me the highlights of the process all over again. The result is the second Pegu Blog Original Video.
Not only is Gin from Watershed a very nice gin in its own right, but it also fills a need in the gin selection available to Ohioans. There are relatively few gins available in this state to begin with, and most that we do have are the big, traditional brands, in the big, traditional styles. Watershed’s offering can provide local bartenders and mixers with a great new option should they want to be working with a brighter, cleaner spirit that may be more accessible to drinkers who are just getting used to gin.
I’m not saying that Gin from Watershed is mild. It’s not. A sip of it neat will punch you in the snoot. But it’s a punch in the snoot from a pretty girl. The first bottle I bought (from hand-numbered batch #1) is already gone, so let me offer my coroner’s report on how it went.
Of course, the first drink I tried, as with all new gins, was a standard Pegu. Watershed is good here… really good. The added tones of all that citrus zest seem to enhance the drink’s regular flavors, especially those underlying the Angostura Bitters, without altering the balance. I then experimented with other gin sour variants and Watershed worked there very well, too. I think these kind of drinks are the best use for this gin.
It also makes a fine Martini, however. If you use fresh vermouth, and enough of it, dammit! For me, I’ve come to prefer a bit more juniper as I’ve come to know the cocktail. But if you are just making the move from Vodka Martinis to the real thing, I’d say Watershed would be worth a try to get you in the door.
I don’t drink Gin & Tonics, so I can’t speak to how Gin from Watershed works in that standard. Can any G&T drinkers out there who’ve tried it shoot me some feedback in the comments?
Right now, both both Gin and Vodka from Watershed are available only in Ohio, and right now they are only using the Columbus warehouse. The rest of you will have to wait. [UPDATE: Outside Ohio you can now buy the Gin from Watershed for $28.99 from ThePartySource.com. Lots of bars bars are using it around town, and it has been selling in a good selection of liquor stores all over, so it should not be hard to find. My advice is to pick up a bottle and drink all you want. Greg says he’ll make more.