Autumn in Colorado is kind of special.
Review Block Autumn Gin
Made in: Denver, Colorado, USA, by The Block Distillery Co.
Base: wheat, oats, barley
Method: Column still.
47% alcohol/94 proof
Botanicals (?) Only the known are listed: Juniper, orris root, gentian, angelica, pepperberry, cardamom, cinnamon, bay laurel, nutmeg, ginger, citrus, allspice, Probably more.
Style: Modern Gin
On a recent trip to Denver a family member gave me a little gift. A bottle of a locally made gin from Block Distilling Company. The distiller makes four seasonal gins, and the one I was given was the Autumn edition. She told me I got Autumn, because all the others were sold out, and that Autumn is currently in production. That is usually a very good sign.
I reached out to Block, both, via their website and via Facebook and did not get any reply, so as a labor of love to my readers (you believe that, right?) I made the trek over to the distillery for a tasting and a short Q&A session.
Block is the product of the imagination of Kraig and Kameron Weaver two engineers, one software and one mechanical, whose love for home brewing and home distillation turned into such a passion that they opened their own distillery, and along with Michelle Weaver (and their mom) literally have done everything themselves - from creating their own spirit recipes to building the furniture and staircases in the distillery.
While they also produce some very nice whiskey (loved the rye), and a coffee liquor, I was there to focus on the gin. I tried all four of their gins, from the Spring (which is the most traditional), to the Summer (very citrus forward) to the Autumn (spiced, and the one this review is focused on), to the Winter (which is an American oak aged version on the Autumn gin). And it’s the Autumn, which is the most atypical, and most interesting of the gins in my opinion.
Perhaps that is because of the gentian root in the gin - which is not something I’ve encountered in a botanical list for another gin (although to be fair, gentian has been used historically as a beverage flavoring).
Another oddity here is the grain neutral spirit, which is distilled totally in house, from a mixture of barley, oats, and wheat.
It’s worth noting before we get into tasting that Block Autumn is an unfiltered gin or semi filtered- which takes on a bit of milky opulence when added to water or ice.
This is a nice sipping gin which goes nicely with a little ice and offers some interesting flavors. There are levels of spice which speak to the seasonality of the gin without being overwhelming. It’s got a lovely balance and a smoothness which is imparted by the oats in the GNS.
Aroma wise notes of orange and cardamom dominate. Some very faint notes of other spices linger far in the background.
This is not a juniper forward gin, the first notes here are cardamom, bay, and some baking spice notes of ginger, nutmeg, followed by notes of bergamot and subtle hints of cinnamon. Midpalate these flavors swerve into delicate flavors of both juniper and pink peppercorns. At the back end there are some extremely faint notes of orris root and angelica root and maybe even ginseng. Notably absent however are any of the typical notes of coriander.
Something in this flavoring mix reminds me a bit of both Harahorn, and Hardshore gin as it accentuates a note I tend to associate with (unflavored) gins containing some sort of berry. I expect that is due to the pepperberry and cardamom fruit (rather than seed).
This flavor profile definitely is modern here, yet it works nicely without jarring or discordant notes. It offers layers of flavor, subtle notes,and some unique flavors. In fact I found I enjoyed it a lot without any mixer save ice.
Mouthfeel is thin, slightly acerbic at first, but softening as it lingers on the palate.
Due to its unique flavor profile I was not expecting Blocks Autumn to be a great mixer in classic cocktails - and in fact at the distillery they tend to lean very heavily towards their more typical gins for their in house cocktails.
With it’s unexpected flavor profile I wasn’t sure what kind of a martini to make with this one, so I opted for a classic, up, with a twist of lime, as this doesn’t really seem quite like the most olive friendly of gins. It certainly isn’t classic, but it is a nice cocktail with just enough juniper to clearly mark it as a martini. That said with your eyes closed you’d imagine there were some cardamom bitters, as well as a bay leaf in it for garnish.
Block Autumn gin surprised me for gin and tonics. While it lacks the umph that a more classic juniper forward gin might have, it makes up for it with it’s notes of berry, bay, and cardamom. Mixed with Q classic Indian style tonic it was solid but not overly exciting. However when mixed with Q’s Elderflower tonic with a twist of lime the gin really popped, making for a very good cocktail. *
The unusual flavor profile did not lend itself to the few classic cocktails I tried it in - either a White Lady or Gimlet. Where I suspect it would work however would be in something like a gin Old Fashioned, although I suspect Block’s Winter gin would be an even better fit then anyhow.
This is not a gin for juniper lovers. Juniper is a bit player in the gin compared to the bay and cardamom. However it sips nicely and does work in some cocktails for those who prefer to mix as opposed to drinking neat or on the rocks. I’d think this a good gateway gin for friends who prefer vodka, or even tequila.
I can’t call this a good mixing gin. While the creative minded will find some cocktails, especially well spiced ones, (like a Red Snapper, gin Old Fashioned,Corpse Reviver, or maybe a Basil Smash) that will work, its lack of coriander and slighter notes of juniper, doesn’t mesh well with drinks that benefit from that strong backbone.
Rating (Sipping): 94 - for those who like excellent sipping gins, .
Rating (Mixing) 72- As a mixer this one is just below average. The flavors here just don’t have that strong classic juniper/coriander/angelica backbone required in most gin cocktails. That doesn’t mean there aren’t drinks where this will flow, but you can find a better mixing gin for less money..
Overall rating: 83 - Honestly I liked this gin far better than the 83 rating I’m giving it here. It’s one I’ll keep close as a gin for sipping on the rocks - where it excels, and I’ll use it in G&Ts, and even for an atypical martini, but as a mixer, I have not yet found the stand out cocktail for it.
*After the fact the distillers recommended trying this one with Fever Tree aromatic tonic water. I’ll leave that for you all to try as, as of this moment I think I need to refrain for a few hours, or days before the next review. - JW.
What you need to know about reviews: All my reviews are my honest opinions based upon my own personal tasting. I am NOT a paid reviewer, and no compensation was given, or expected. I may from time to time choose to do a second review and amend my opinion of a product, should I feel like it and find my review criteria has evolved, or that I’ve found it different at a later date. That said, as I’m unlikely to repurchase anything I thought was less than very good to excellent, it would be by chance or at the request of a distiller who thought I rated them very unfairly - BUT even then, whatever you get will always be my honest opinion.