I love unconventional spirits. Any time a distiller wants to try blending new flavors into liquor or mashing up different kinds of spirits to make something new, I’m here for it. Things may not always go to plan, but therein lies half the fun. Today we’re looking at two drinks I don’t usually enjoy blended together: a gin and a rosé wine.
Truro Vineyards, founded in 1992 and owned by the Roberts family since 2007, is a winery in the small town of Truro on the far end of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. A good location combined with a delicious product proved to be a successful formula, and in 2013 they decided to invest that good fortune into opening a distillery called South Hollow Spirits.
Operated by the eldest son of the Roberts family, South Hollow Spirits styles itself after the bootleggers that were common during prohibition along the coast of Cape Cod. They are currently producing various versions of gin and rum onsite in their 250 gallon copper pot.
The winery and distillery is located on a scenic plot of land (which is easily accessible from the main road along the cape, Route 6) including an original farmhouse that has been refurbished into the tasting room and shop. The front yard has a number of picnic tables and, during the summer months, a food truck offers lunch for sale and the small building (“The Hollow”) at the far end prepares mixed drinks and tastings using the South Hollow spirits. There’s also a patio and rows of wine vines behind the house.
The South Hollow Spirits flagship gin is their “Dry Line” product, named after a geographic climate quirk that encourages the growth of Eastern Red Cedar trees near the distillery, whose juniper berries form the base of the spirit. After the juniper berry juice is distilled, it is blended with angelica root grown using discarded grapes from the winery itself.
Once the standard gin is finished, for this special rosé blended gin they combine the two for a ratio of 65% gin and 35% rosé. In this case, the source grapes for that rosé come from a variety of California grenache, and is presumably the same wine that’s available as a bottled rosé from Truro Vineyards (which is pretty darn good by itself, or so I’m told by my wife).
The Dry Line gins are bottled in various different quantities, but all of the bottles have a square body that tapers to a rounded neck and ends in a cork and wood cap. I personally enjoy the clean design of the square bottle, it differentiates Dry Line a bit but still looks classic on your liquor shelf.
The label is a relatively clean design, a slim rectangular sticker that wraps three quarters of the way around the bottle. Each bottle is marked to identify which batch produced it, and includes some information about the product and how it was made
The rosé version of the spirit sports a slate grey label instead of the typical white label, which provides a nice contrast to the cheery pink color of the liquid inside. The lettering is either metallic pink or light grey in an elegant font and type face. The whole thing just absolutely screams “brunch on the cape with the ladies.”
To me, gin tends to be a very bitter spirit. Something that is better used in a mixed drink than by itself for sipping. This version however is distinctly lighter than other gins, both in flavor and in weight. There’s less alcohol content — 35% ABV compared to 47% ABV for the normal gin — and the flavors have been diluted a bit by the rosé.
On the nose, there’s still the juniper and angelica root coming through clear and present… but also a bit of fruit that I don’t usually notice and some minor sweetness. It helps to tone down the feeling that I’ve got juniper branches shoved into my nostrils, which is appreciated.
As I mentioned, the addition of the rosé has considerably toned down the flavor. The flavor starts out decidedly on the “gin” side of the equation with the juniper, but very quickly the fruity contributions overpower those initial notes and the whole thing finishes off with almost a hint of tannin from the red wine skins. All the while, the juniper is still in the background, and once the primary flavors have disappeared that juniper note returns and lingers pleasantly for a few minutes.
Normally, I’d be looking for the ice to tone down a bitter and powerful spirit, but in this case the spirit is already pretty nice to sip on. For me, the addition of ice into this spirit just further dilutes the flavors and makes it almost into a bland and uninteresting glass of cold liquor. Sure there’s some juniper coming through and a bit of the wine, but it’s more of a ghost of flavors past.
I almost don’t think there’s a point in mentioning the gin & tonic I had for testing this because the results are the same. There’s just not enough flavor and boldness left to lend much to the cocktail once you add the ice, and diluting it further with the tonic water doesn’t help anyone.
That said, there is one place where this excels: the French 75. If you add this gin to a bit of champagne not only will the colors compliment each other and make for an attractive drink, but the flavor profile is just right such that it adds enough of the juniper notes without overpowering the drink. It’s a solid option that will definitely be a conversation piece for your cocktail party.
I’d be tempted to call this a reverse French 75. Instead of adding a bit of gin to some wine, we’re adding a bit of wine to a gin. Which, coincidentally, is probably the cocktail where this spirit works best.
Like I said, I’m a fan of experimentation and I don’t think this is a bad product at all. It’s a solid idea and a fun conversation piece at parties, and when taken neat it’s actually a pretty good tasting spirit. I just don’t think that this is necessarily the best for mixed cocktails, and if you’re using it for that purpose, then you might want to try a slightly bolder spirit.
|South Hollow Spirits Dry Line Cape Cod Rose Gin|
Produced By: South Hollow SpiritsProduction Location: Massachusetts, United States
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 35% ABV
Price: $34.99 / 750 ml
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Overall Rating: 3/5
It’s a shelf piece: something you buy to put on your liquor shelf and start conversations, and maybe sip every so often.