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Uncle Val's Botanical Gin

Uncle Val's Botanical


By Robert Plotkin

There's so much to appreciate about this product that it's hard to know where to begin. For one thing, Uncle Val's Botanical Gin is a classically structured gin and yet it possesses enough creative twists that it breaks away from the conventional. Every great gin must exhibit some singularly appealing quality that makes it standout from the crowd. Especially when it comes to gin, individuality is a must. Uncle Val's is all that.

Aficionados and history buffs will also appreciate this gin for its adherence to tradition. Even the shape of the bottle and design of the label harken back to the mid-1600s when gin was invented as a restorative medicine. Marketed at a lip-tingling 45% alcohol (90 proof), trust that you will feel restored after a few sips of Uncle Val's.

Lastly, gin is the only major distilled spirit not intend to be drunk neat, but rather mixed in drinks. Some gins fall down in this respect and are either best mixed with tonic or served in a straight-up cocktail, such as a Martini. It's one or the other with many brands. Not so with Uncle Val's. It has enough depth of character to still shine when mixed and is sufficiently enticing to warrant featuring in a cocktail.

Uncle Val's is an artisanal spirit handcrafted by 35 Maple Street of Sonoma, California. The gin is constructed on a foundation of neutral grain spirits that are slowly steeped with the gin's all-important botanical mix. The proprietary mix includes, among others, lavender, sage, lemon peels, cucumber and juniper. Some botanicals steep longer in the alcohol than others to impart a more pronounced flavor and aroma. Here's where the artistry and craftsmanship most comes into play. All told, the gin undergoes five distillations in a copper pot still.

Uncle Val's is an exemplary spirit graced with engaging aromatics and well-integrated, long lasting flavors. The gin has crystalline clarity, a curvaceous, medium-weight body and a bouquet of light citrus, piney juniper, cucumber and lavender. The aroma of the juniper persists from first sniff throughout the long silky finish. The entry is slightly warm, largely due to the elevated alcohol content. It rapidly expands filling the mouth with spicy, peppery, zesty citrus, and herbal/piney flavors. The long finish is spicy warm with floral and herbal notes. Top notch.

So, who's Uncle Val? The brand was inspired by Zio Valerio of Lucca, Italy, the uncle of 35 Maple Street's owner, August Sebastiani. Valerio was an avid gardener and a devotee of his native cuisine. The gin's botanicals all have ties back to Uncle Val's garden in Tuscany.

Uncle Val's Botanical Gin is a top-shelf contender, a "must have" for any self-respecting cocktail haunt or Martini bar.