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Ransom Dry Gin

Ransom Dry Gin


By Robert Plotkin

Here's a spirit for those who appreciate taking the road less traveled. Handmade by Ransom Distilling Company of Sheridan, Oregon, Ransom Dry Gin is an artisanal gem, significantly different in character than a London dry gin and a "must have" for every self-respecting cocktail haunt. It combines the malty and hoppy aromas of a genever with a zesty spray of luscious fruit on the finish.

This one-of-a kind dry gin is made on a base of rye and malted barley, which are mashed and fermented on-premises. The cast of local botanicals and aromatics— juniper berries, lemon peel, coriander seed, angelica root, caraway seed, star anise, marionberries, orris root, hops, cardamom pods and orange peels—are infused with corn-based spirits in their natural form. The gin is distilled using a direct-fired alambic pot still in order to preserve the maximum amount of aromatics, flavor and body. The gin is lightly filtered prior to being bottled at 44% alcohol (88 proof).

Ransom Dry Gin is marvelous in all respects. It has crystalline clarity, a silky, medium-weight body and captivating bouquet malt, flora, hops and fresh Marion berry. Its aromatic signature makes the gin well worth the purchase price. Ample waves of juniper, blackberry, citrus, black pepper, malt and cardamom dominate the long-lasting palate. Even whiskey enthusiasts will be attracted to its complex, malty character.

Equally impressive is Ransom Old Tom Gin. Drink aficionados will recognize the style as the foundation of a score of classic cocktails. Launched in 2008, Ransom Old Tom was the first American barrel-aged gin

The Old Tom Gin is fundamentally different than the Dry Gin. Its foundation is entirely barley malt and features fewer botanicals in its infusion— organic juniper berries, orange peel, lemon peel, coriander seed, cardamom pods, and angelica root. After the gin exits the alembic still a second time it is transferred to used French oak wine barrels for six to twelve months. It, too, is bottled at 44% alcohol (88 proof).

Ransom Old Tom Gin has a fetching, golden-hued appearance, a satiny, medium-weight body and an engaging bouquet of juniper, citrus and spice. The entry is soft and gentle as it slowly gives way to pronounced malty flavors with brilliant citrus notes. In the hands of a skilled mixologist, there is no creative limit to what's possible.

The distillery has created two other cocktail all-stars—Ransom Sweet Vermouth and Ransom Dry Vermouth—in conjunction with its sister winery, Ransom Wine Company. Both aperitifs are produced and bottled in Sheridan, Oregon.

The base wine for the Sweet Vermouth is a blend of organic, aromatic white grape varietals, including Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Riesling and Pinot Gris. To this blend of wines, the master blender adds brandy that has been distilled in alambic stills and barrel aged in mixed French oak. An impressive roster of 24 aromatics and botanicals are then added, a cast that includes wormwood, walnuts, spearmint, orange peels verbena, dried cherries, quinate and chinchona barks, sarsaparilla, cacao nibs and chamomile. The finished vermouth is bottled at 17.5% alcohol.

Be prepared to be seriously impressed. The Ransom Sweet Vermouth has a lush, medium-weight body and a tantalizing semi-sweet bouquet. The palate is an incomparable array of spicy and tangy, citrusy flavors. The vermouth is so delicious that it deserves to be enjoyed in its natural state, sipped neat and undiluted. That said, it also makes an extraordinary Manhattan.

Equally impressive is the classically formulated Ransom Dry Vermouth. Its botanical mix contains wormwood, rosehip, skullcap, chamomile, orange peel, verbena, spearmint, star anise, cinnamon bark, angel root, burdock root, fennel, cardamom, vanilla bean and lemon peel. The dark, gold/amber hued wine is fortified to 18.4% alcohol. The vermouth has a silky textured, medium-weight body and a complex, wafting bouquet comprised of a floral, herbal and slightly fruity aromas. The dry, mouth-filling palate is laced with spice and citrus. Its brilliant character will infuse your Martinis with new life and make them the tingling combination of wine and spirit they were originally intended to be.

Ransom Distillery is a national treasure. Kudos!