I was recently in downtown San Diego with some family members who lived in the area when we stumbled across the You & Yours distillery. It seemed like the perfect place to stop in and have a drink on a Sunday afternoon. Good thing we did, since the cocktails were fantastic and the gin they made on-site seemed to be something special. Naturally, I grabbed a couple bottles and brought them back to Austin to review at my leisure.
Laura Johnson is a woman driven by the desire to be a distiller.
She first was bitten by the distilling bug when on a trip to Cuba with her father when she was 18 years old, standing in awe at the Havana Club distillery when she says everything just clicked for the first time. Since then, she has devoted her life to learning the craft and the business of distilling spirits, graduating from the University of San Diego with a degree in business and subsequently training at Dry Fly Distilling, the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, and the Distilled Spirits Epicenter Master Distiller’s program.
Even after all of that education and training, she found it difficult to get an apprenticeship at a distillery and break into the industry. So she said the words that every great entrepreneur says at some point: “F*** it. I’ll just learn everything else along the way.”
Johnson decided to simply open her own distillery, and in 2017 after three years of planning and fundraising, she opened the doors of You & Yours Distilling in San Diego, California. Her vision was to create a distillery that combined the quality of the products with the quality of the experience at the distillery to make a truly unforgettable brand. The brand has flourished in their downtown San Diego location, and Laura has even started a scholarship to help other women get their start in the field of distilled spirits.
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This gin takes a distinctly Californian twist straight off the bat — instead of using grains, the base spirit for this gin is made from grapes. The grape juice is pressed from the fruit, fermented to convert the natural sugar into alcohol, and then distilled to make the initial batch of neutral spirit for this gin.
As an “American Gin”, this follows some of the same familiar conventions as its more traditional London counterpart but with significantly less juniper and more of a citrus focus. An array of ingredients are added to the spirit and allowed to steep like a fine tea, including grapefruit and Valencia orange peels, cracked juniper, rose hips, fresh mint, and coriander.
Once properly flavored, the spirit is then re-distilled in the single hybrid still that the distillery operates in their back room, proofed down, and bottled for sale.
The overall shape of the bottle is a common design we’ve seen from a couple newer distilleries (and for good reason — it looks pretty great). The straight cylindrical walls of the body curve sharply inward at the shoulder, leading to a medium length neck and capped off with a wood and cork stopper. It’s a modern take on the traditional spirits bottle, and one that perfectly accompanies the modern chic ambiance of the distillery itself.
On the front of the bottle is a light and airy illustration of the floral and citrus elements that went into this spirit surrounding a plain circle with the brand information inscribed in a gray colored plain font. I really appreciate that, like the bottle, this design fits with the overall aesthetic of the distillery and the vibe they are trying to cultivate. I also really like that the design gives you a clear view into the contents of the bottle and doesn’t unnecessarily obstruct your view of that beautiful crystal clear spirit.
As you’d expect from a more modern American style gin, there isn’t nearly as much juniper in the aroma here (unlike a London dry, for example). That juniper is more of an accompaniment than a star of the show — which in this case are the orange and grapefruit citrus, mint, and coriander. It smells bright and refreshing, with just a hint of pine in the background.
That juniper all but disappears in the actual flavor profile of the spirit. Immediately as you take a sip, the citrus flavors from the orange and grapefruit peels provide a bright, crisp, and immediately recognizable flavor that gives this a fruity and zesty flair. That’s followed by some coriander spice and a bit of earthiness that both add some depth and character to the flavor profile before being joined by the mint that brings some levity. On the finish, I get a little bit of black pepper spice that lingers on the lips for a while after the alcohol is gone.
Something that I’m inconsistently tasting on the finish is an almost soapy quality that I think is a combination of the juniper and mint flavors. It’s like the texture and flavor some people get from cilantro, with that little bit of spice but also that pseudo-soap flavor. Definitely not a deal killer, just an interesting and perplexing note.
With a little bit of ice, I actually think that the coriander is now the star of the show here. That earthy, spicy note is what stands out the strongest while the juniper is pretty much the only supporting character that still makes a significant appearance.
This is pretty typical for what you’ll see in an American style gin with added ice — namely, the lighter and less saturated flavors falling out of the drink while the more heavily saturated notes stay behind. In this case, those lighter tones are the citrus components, which retreat into the background like Homer Simpson into a shrubbery. The juniper alone is the only herbal note that is strong enough to stick around here.
All that said, it’s still very drinkable. Usually I’ll try to avoid drinking gin on the rocks, but this is a case where the juniper and the coriander actually make it work for me.
Fizz (Tom Collins)
What I’m looking for in a Tom Collins is some addition of some herbal elements to the cocktail. The lemon juice and soda water can be tough flavors to stand against, and not every gin makes it. But in this case, there are some interesting notes that kept me sipping along.
The mint actually makes a reappearance here with the Tom Collins. I’m not sure if the soda water was enough to move the juniper out of the way and let it shine through, but it’s one of the flavors I’m definitely picking up on now more than in other preparations. There still isn’t a ton of citrus, with the ice and the dilution keeping the orange well under wraps, but I do think I get a hint of the bitterness from the grapefruit coming through.
The negroni is the toughest of all of our tests here, and one that I honestly expect most gins to fail. There’s so much stacked against those spirits here — the combined forceful powers of the Campari and vermouth pretty much drown out any flavors that the light, airy, delicate gin might try to bring to the table.
What I’ll take for a win here is that there’s the slightest glimmer of coriander coming through, even despite all of those other elements in the glass. It isn’t much, but the fact that it exists at all is strong testament to the saturation of flavor in this spirit.
This is an impressive flagship product from such a young distillery and master distiller. The choice of ingredients — and especially the discipline that is shown by editing them down to just the components that she actually wants to highlight — proves that this is a distiller who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to take chances to make that vision happen. (A conclusion that probably could have been inferred by the mere existence of this distillery against the odds.)
Taken neat, this gin is something truly delicious. Light and airy, with a good use of citrus and mint, it provides just the right balance of elements to make for a great tasting gin.
My biggest gripe is going to be that the citrus elements aren’t quite as saturated as I would have liked to see them. I get that it might throw off the balance of the spirit when taken neat, but with a gin I almost expect that. This is a spirit designed for cocktails and mixology, so a little bit of funkyness can be forgiven if it makes for an interestingly flavored spirit that I can use in cocktails.
|You & Yours Sunday Gin|
Produced By: You & YoursProduction Location: California, United States
Classification: American Gin
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 80% ABV
Price: $34.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 4/5
A light and delicious gin that highlights citrus, mint, and a bit of coriander spice.