Understanding the Pacific Northwest's Unique and Approachable Gin


Don’t call it fancy vodka - gin is much more complicated than that. Yea it’s neutral spirit with additional juniper berry, but crafting good gin has been a global undertaking for centuries. Our modern account of gin dates back to the first reference in the 13th century where juniper elixirs were used as medicine . Italians once claimed it, the English first exploited it and Scotland has most recently revolutionized it but the origins of gin actually lie in Holland, reaching back well past written records according to lore. Gin production is nothing new but there’s an undeniable resurgence in gin’s popularity that is partially due to it’s nonrestrictive production rules in addition to a fueled frenzy to localize spirit ingredients as much as possible. Gin is no longer characterized by country, gin is being modernized regionally by distillers who think out-of-the box and forage inside their local agricultural zone.

Our Lead Distiller Travis Schoney at Big Bottom Distilling is bringing to life unique styles of the classic spirit with a stamp of Pacific Northwest character that showcases the wide range of floral and botanical bounty that the upper left coast offers.

Ninety One Gin

Coming out of the gate with floral notes and a slightly sweeter-botanical style, the Ninety One Gin is Big Bottom Distilling’s homage to spring in the Pacific Northwest. Botanical heavy, the aromatics of wildflowers, wild mint and spicy herbs mingle together as a luscious bouquet. By going against the grain and producing a softer, more approachable gin, the Ninety One exemplifies the Pacific Northwest style of gin that honors juniper but is not saturated by it. It’s a flavor salad neither overtly citric like a London Dry or sweet like a classic Plymouth - it’s both and more.

“The Pacific Northwest is one of the most flora diverse places on Earth. We have high deserts, damp forests, the Pacific Ocean coastline, fertile valleys and volcanic mountains. When creating The Ninety One Gin, this was the driving force behind our creativity and expression. We wanted to create a product that is as unique as the place it was created.”

~ Travis Schoney, Head Distiller at Big Bottom Distilling

Navy Strength

If you’re looking for power, boldness, and a beautiful balance of botanical and potency, then the Navy Strength is the bottle you’ve been searching for. 114 proof without apology it’s a newbie nightmare but a gin-lovers dream. The bouquet balances floral properties of the expertly-distilled spirit and rich layers upon layers of earth tones and ethanol. Notes include spiced orange peel with hints of lemongrass that gently dominate the mid-palate. However, the combination of dried rinds and fresh herbs mingle beautifully with the full octane earthiness of the alcohol as a segue way to the clean, crisp finish. Head Distiller Travis Schoney took the time to perfect a gin that boasts intensity, subtlety, intricacy and approach-ability in this NW powerhouse.

Barrel-Finished Gin

The amazing flavors and elements of barrel-finished gins are eagerly being explored by distillers, and the Big Bottom Barrel-finished gin is leading the charge. The choice to culminate the distilled spirit in wood barrels allows an entirely new set of flavors to develop and elevates, or alleviates, the role in which juniper plays as a fundamental influence on character.

“Big Bottom Barrel Finished Gin undergoes a solera process with the use of four different woods that previously housed our whiskey: Local and rare Oregon oak, fruity Hungarian oak, spicy North American white oak and French Limousin Oak which is the most expensive oak used for barrels in the world. Why? Because I can.”

~ Travis Schoney, Head Distiller at Big Bottom Distilling

It’s also making an impact on cocktail culture, expanding the use of gin into uncharted spirit waters that have been owned by whiskey and brown liquors.

“Barrel-aged gin works better in classics like the Martinez, but works amazingly in cocktails not typically associated with gin, like the Old Fashioned. It really opens up some new options.”

~ Damon Boelte, proprietor of Brooklyn’s Grand Army

The Takeaway

Gin is not a liquid Christmas tree and is not all made in Europe. Spirit-lovers across the world can look to distillers to continue to innovate and evolve their processes with new approaches and ingredients.

To put it simply, out of necessity innovation is born. Gin (and other non-aged spirits) have seen a rise in recent years mostly due to this, in my shared opinion. Subsequently, Distillers are pushing beyond the status quo and creating some very unique spirits, spawning a new standard that celebrates gin in all of its many forms.

~ Travis Schoney, Head Distiller at Big Bottom Distilling

Distiller Travis Schoney samples gin distillate coming off the newly installed, custom 500 gallon still. Pictured are assistant distillers Kyle Ligoudice and Joshua Kaul.

Distiller Travis Schoney samples gin distillate coming off the newly installed, custom 500 gallon still. Pictured are assistant distillers Kyle Ligoudice and Joshua Kaul.