While whiskey might be my favorite spirit, gin isn’t terribly far behind. There are so many different ways that you can approach this flavored spirit, from different herbal components to different distillation methods, all making for a unique and vibrant spirit in the end. The folks at Lockwood Distilling Co have come out with something that they are calling a “Texas Style Gin” and I can’t wait to check it out.
The Batt family is no stranger to the spirits world. Evan Batt started out as a sales representative for a distributor and worked his way up the chain, eventually co-founding Western Son Vodka and then signing on as the sales director for Desert Door Sotol.
Seeing the market opportunity for something in their local area, Evan and his wife, Sally Batt, decided to open the Lockwood Distilling Company in October of 2019 in Richardson, Texas. The couple had a vision of opening a local craft distillery and eatery that could be a hangout for the local community and bring people together.
However, just a few months after opening their doors, the pandemic hit and forced them to rethink their plan. The distillery switched from producing alcoholic spirits to hand sanitizer for the community and was able to weather the 2020 lockdowns without needing to lay off any employees.
As the restrictions eased, the distillery came back to life with outdoor dining and live music. They became so popular locally that the distillery has expanded to a second location on Magnolia Avenue in Fort Worth — and, fun fact: the name “Lockwood” combined with the fact that the new location used to be a locksmith apparently attracted so many people looking to get keys duplicated that they actually purchased a key making machine for the bar.
The distillery also produces a different line of spirits under the brand name Barrel and Banter.
- Learn More: What Is Gin?
Gin is often one of the first marketable products made by a distillery. The spirit doesn’t require any maturation or aging, so it is quick to produce and allows the distillery to start turning a profit immediately while they wait for other products (like whiskey) to age.
There’s not much detail about this specific spirit, but given the way these are typically made and some other hints around their distillery we can probably make some educated guesses. One thing I’ll note is that a “Texas Style Gin” is not a recognized designation for the spirit and therefore doesn’t help us understand it any better.
All gin starts as a neutral spirit: alcohol that has been distilled to such a high alcohol content that basically none of the original flavor remains. Most distilleries will source this from a major producer like MGP since there really isn’t any quality impact to using a mass produced spirit — but since Lockwood also makes a corn-based vodka, it is just as likely that they use this vodka as the source for their gins.
What makes gins different and interesting is the use of botanical elements to impart different flavors. According to Lockwood, they use locally sourced elements such as rosemary, juniper, orange peel, grapefruit, coriander and vanilla. (And there may be even more botanical elements, actually, as the full list is not disclosed.)
Those elements are likely added to a large sack and steeped in the alcohol in a process called maceration that allows the alcohol to absorb some of the flavor from the botanicals. Some distilleries use a vapor basket or other infusion techniques, but maceration is the most popular and simplest for a new distillery to use. Once properly flavored, the spirit is re-distilled and bottled for sale.
The bottle design here has some glimmers of excellence, but ultimately falls a little flat in my opinion.
When it comes to the glass bottle itself, the design is very standard and typical for a small craft distillery: a round, cylindrical body that curves at the shoulder to a medium length neck, topped off with a wood and synthetic stopper. It isn’t the most imaginative shape in the world — but then again, I’m not going to knock a small distillery for focusing on the contents instead of the container with their investment.
I feel like this label is a bit unnecessarily large for the bottle, though. The white lettering on a black background is clean, bold, and easy to read… but the spirit in the bottle should be the star of the show. With a label this large, it’s tougher to get a sense of the true color of the spirit. If the label was innovative or unique (I’m thinking about the artist-focused labels from Still Austin, for example), I could be inclined to forgive it. But a minimalist black background in lieu of spirit transparency doesn’t feel like a worthwhile trade off.
That said, they’re doing one thing right with their packaging: the different types of whiskey in their line each have another small rectangular label at the bottom with a different color for each, which helps visually distinguish them on the shelf. In this case, it’s a blue label for their gin.
At first, this seems pretty on point for a traditional London Dry style of gin. The aroma has a bright and beautiful aroma of juniper, like walking through a forest of pine trees. There is a bit more depth and richness in the form of coriander spice adding some richer tones, as well as orange and grapefruit citrus adding some zest.
Unfortunately for this spirit, I think that grapefruit is just a little too loud when you take a sip.
The grapefruit flavor the first thing you’ll notice as the spirit hits your tongue — and with it comes a significant level of bitterness, almost like you just took a big bite of the fruit. For the unprepared, it can definitely be a bit of a shock.
As the flavor progresses, there’s some good orange peel and coriander spice that start to join the party, but not nearly enough to balance out that initial bitterness. The vanilla eventually does make an appearance and lingers a bit towards the finish, but that initial bitterness is just overpowering.
I get just a tiny hint of juniper in the flavor as it develops. That’s actually much more in line with an American style gin, which is more fruit and spice forward compared to a London Dry that is more juniper forward. It’s interesting that this can smell like a London Dry but state like an American style.
The good news here is that the bitterness of the grapefruit flavor is significantly toned down. At this point, it is less of an annoyance and more of an interesting characteristic — and something that could prove interesting in a cocktail.
On the flip side of that coin, a lot of the other flavors have also disappeared as well. The coriander is significantly reduced (if not eliminated entirely), leaving just the orange zest behind in a weakened state. The vanilla does come through a little more clearly now, with a bit of a richer and deeper base for the flavors, but the end result is something that feels more like a random assortment of flavors than a cohesive and balanced profile.
A negroni cocktail is, by its nature, a bitter beast. The Campari in the drink is quite a lot to handle, and usually only a London Dry gin with its heavy juniper flavor can make much of a dent here.
And as we’ve seen, this spirit doesn’t really have much juniper to offer. Instead, all it has is additional bitterness from that grapefruit flavor component. Its become just a feedback loop at this point, leading to a drink that’s probably closer to paint thinner in a flavor profile than something enjoyable.
Fizz (Gin & Tonic)
After the disaster that was a Negroni, I was pleasantly surprised by this Gin & Tonic. This is actually kind of interesting, if I’m honest.
With the added tonic water (or just some mineral water), the bitterness from the grapefruit is tamed. You can add a splash of simple sugar in here if you’d really like to be sure, but I think that problem is fairly well solved by just the tonic water. And what it leaves behind is the flavor of the grapefruit (which is an interesting and different component that we don’t often see in a gin) but without that bitter component. There’s also a touch of spice from the coriander and a hint of vanilla, but the grapefruit is really the star of the show.
This reminds me a lot more of a tequila-based Paloma than it does a G&T — but I’m not mad about it at all.
This is a strange, different, interesting take on an American style gin. And one that I think might be quietly brilliant.
Going strictly by the book, this doesn’t stack up. It’s bitter when taken neat, terrible in a negroni, and only really starts to work when you add it to a gin & tonic. But that’s the glimmer of hope that opens the door for the wider world of use for this gin.
While the bitterness in the grapefruit flavor is a problem in some formats, it’s one that can easily be overcome with mixers and sugar. A correctable issue, if you will. And once you understand that about this spirit, this makes for some interesting and novel cocktails. The trick here just is some experimentation on the part of the bartender, and the knowledge that this is going to act a little differently compared to a normal gin.
|Lockwood Distilling Co Texas Style Gin|
Produced By: Lockwood Distilling CoProduction Location: Texas, United States
Classification: American Gin
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $19.49 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 2/5
An American style gin that is big on the grapefruit flavor, including the associated bitterness.