The Still Austin Whiskey Co. out of Texas says “The Naturalist,” its American Gin, is “the first rye gin made in the Lone Star State.” I have no reason to disbelieve them. And furthermore, I really enjoyed this offering—big and bold as Texas, but not over-the-top. I tend to get in a Tanqueray or Ransom or Botanist rut, and this bottle broke me out. It’s in the summer rotation now, to be sure.
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The “grain-to-glass” distillery uses a base of 70% Brasetto rye and 30% non-GMO white corn, Texas-grown. Made in 100-gallon batches in a copper pot still, the spirit then receives botanicals including organic juniper berries, coriander seeds, cinnamon, citrus peels, elderflowers and allspice berries. To me, the gin’s signature profile was not dissimilar to a London Dry, but with a pronounced and pleasant spice—as rye is to bourbon, this gin is to more standard bottlings. It has a brisk pop to it, with balance. It’s great for a gin and tonic, well-suited to lime, but I found it worked even better in a French 75 (indeed, that’s what’s in the photo, above).
It looks great on the shelf (as do the distillery’s other bottlings), due to artist and native Texan Marc Burckhardt’s portraits of what he calls “idealized Austinites.” There’s something Botticelli there, with the abundance of nature, and something Austin-cool as well. It’s made for a nifty conversation piece.
Founded in 2015, Still Austin aspires to sustainable practices and “views itself as an integral part of a larger landscape, aiming to let the natural world shine through its work as distillers.” High ideals, indeed, and the versatile result in the bottle will please any gin fan—especially at $32, which is a great buy. Can you taste authenticity? I’m very rarely sure about that. But sometimes… sometimes I think you can.