Tasting Notes – 12 Bridges Gin
This is the fifth article in our seven part series: State of Drink: Portland, Oregon. We hope you enjoy. Cheers!
Often, the most memorable discoveries are ones encountered when looking for something else. Thus was the case of my introduction to 12 Bridges Gin from Integrity Spirits in Portland, Oregon. My sojourn to Portland was to be an exercise in convivial quaffing with compatriots both seasoned and freshly acquired. We were to sample from the alcohol infused bounty of the Portland cocktail scene, and in this we were quite successful. While I was prepared to discover the best booze blooms of the Rose City, the appearance of 12 Bridges Gin in my hand and my glass can best be described as a welcomed surprising inevitability.
Part of the very exciting Portland craft distillers community, Integrity Spirits is a small operation creating modern but stimulating distillations focused, currently, on Lovejoy Vodka, Lovejoy Hazelnut, Trillium Absinthe Supérieure and 12 Bridges Gin. The gin draws naming motivation from the twelve bridges that span the city of Portland as well as the twelve botanicals that give 12 Bridges Gin its character.
Integrity has clad 12 Bridges Gin within a strikingly beautiful package. The theme of twelve bridges is carried throughout the bottle from the embossed pewter label on the front to the image of Portland’s Hawthorne Bridge that is screen printed on the back. The design, given life by ID Branding of Portland, Oregon, has won awards and accolades from many in the package and graphic design worlds since its’ debut in 2008. Integrity plans to periodically update the bottle with images of the other eleven of Portland’s Willamette river spanning bridges.
On the nose, 12 Bridges offers the expected juniper but also notes of citron, cucumber, mountain stream and light toasted grain. It is very inviting. At room temperature, 12 Bridges may be one of the most full flavored gins I have experienced yet avoids being muddied or seeming comical like some gins that try to play up certain notes as a marketing angle. Hidden within the well balanced whole are notes of cucumber, rose hips, all spice, cardamon and, of course, juniper. 12 Bridges is also one of the weightiest gins on the tongue I have ever had. It has real weight which I find quite pleasant while still offering the necessary crispness I prefer, especially from a gin I intend on taking straight. Integrity Spirits say they distilled 12 Bridges to blend the London Dry gin and Dutch genever styles together. With it’s juniper base, crisp finish and full flavor profile I believe they have succeeded in that endeavor.
I would recommend using this gin in any application that appreciates and makes use of both the depth of flavor and viscosity that 12 Bridges Gin offers. Certainly, it excels straight up and possesses enough flavor to stand up to melting rocks. Being from Portland, the land of homemade and do-it-yourself everything, 12 Bridges Gin is a natural in a G&T made from homemade tonic. It definitely is a gin worthy of mixological experimentation as its depth of flavor and full weight offer unique colors of possibility to the clever bartenders palette. I have also tried 12 Bridges in the following beverages and found it right at home:
- A Bittered Gin Sling,
- A L’Oranger cocktail from the recently closed Fenouil restaurant in Portland,
- the Corpse Reviver #2,
- the Bronx,
- my very own Sanitarium Cocktail, and
- a Classic Gin Martini.
The downside to 12 Bridges lay in its small batch nature. There is not a lot of inventory to be found outside of Portland. Which is not to say you will not find it. Rather that it may take some effort. I was able to find it online at K&L Wine Merchants who were boasting one bottle left in the Hollywood, California location. Alternately, find a pen pal from Portland and ask them to ship you a bottle. These are very friendly folk who are intensely proud of what they have collectively created. I am sure they would be glad to do the honor for you.
However you may find 12 Bridges Gin, I highly recommend you try. It is a decidedly new world gin with an old world soul and has interesting story to tell.