Ballard’s gin darlings, Captive Spirits, are expanding their roster of great-tasting gins in some pretty awesome ways. Eater caught up with Ben Capdeville and Holly Robinson to sip and sniff their newest creations, including a peated gin, a take on sloe gin, and their forthcoming barrel reserve.
First thing’s first: Everyone (okay, a handful of people) is talking about how Seattle’s climate makes it an ideal match as a domestic match to Scotland’s take on making whisky. With Westland already well underway in their distillation process, Captive was quick to scoop up their used peated barrels and fill ‘em up with gin. "These barrels previously held Wild Turkey, then Westland’s American Peated Single Malt Whiskey," Capdeville explains of the thrice used barrels that currently hold their newest pursuit: Peat Barreled Big Gin.
The gin has been in the barrels for three months and has reached the flavors they were looking for, with prominent notes of juniper and bitter orange. The peaty flavor isn’t as strong as expected, with the smoky notes relaxed by the bouquet of Big Gin botanicals. As far as cocktails go, former bartender Cappy thinks it’ll be "best friends" with celery juice or other earthy flavors that bring out its vegetal quality. "Drinks with salt and pepper in them and shit," he adds.
They’re also hard at work finding the perfect balance for their Sloe Berried Big Gin, which is a lot different than traditional sloe gin in several ways they lay out for us.
First, it’s a maceration in our used Bourbon Barreled Big Gin barrels, because it’s "a beautiful place to mellow spirits."
Second, they’re using dried, not fresh berries for an earthier, richer flavor, and more complex layers.
Third, they’re selling it above proof, whereas usually it’s around 27%.
And fourth, there’s no additional sugars—all the sweetness is coming from the berries and gin.
The Captive folks macerate the berries and spirits for around four months in the reused barrels, and then bottle it. After bottling, it will be rested for around 4-5 months before being released, which is traditional for sloe gin.
The third product they’re working on is the Barrel Reserve Bourbon Barreled Big Gin, which is their aged gin that’s been hanging out in the bourbon barrels for two-and-a-half years.
The Sloe Berried Big Gin will be available in the fall, while the Peat Barreled Big Gin and Barrel Reserve Big Gin will be out in about 90 days. As of now, no bars have signed up to show off the newest products, but it would be shocking if it isn’t everywhere moments after it becomes available.