I’ve been a friend of Chris Chmiel of Integration Acres for many years now. Chmiel has been my supplier for the papaw in my wheat beer for over a decade. As I was working out my formulation for our Gin, I went to Chris for advice, knowing he is a gin guy. “Spicebush,” he said. That’s where it all started.
Lindera benzoin, commonly known as spicebush or even Appalachian allspice, is a native shrub to our parts and seemed a natural fit. As the common name implies, the berries of this understory woody plant, have a wonderful, rich and spicy, flavor and aroma, similar to the common “allspice,” As a native plant, it happily grows all over our forests here in SE Ohio. The berries we use have been wild-harvested, right here, at their peak and carefully dried to maintain all the goodness we need.
Juniperus communis, or commonly Juniper, is the bond between all gins. This is the berry which gives us the piney character we all recognize as gin. All gins have additional herbs and spices, but the juniper berry is required by law and we use a healthy dose of certified organic berries in accordance.
Rosa rugosa is another of our main players in the mix. Organic rosehips of this variety give the smoothness and complexity I wanted to really tie it all together and add a nice floral nose.
Now, these botanicals really don’t have any sugar to speak of for fermentation, so we still need to have another ingredient to feed our yeasty beasties to produce alcohol. Enter our friends Kim and Larry Cowdery and Matt and Angie Starline. These two farming families live and work within 22 miles of our place and raised all the non-GMO and certified organic corn we need to produce the required alcohol for a clean distillation, with a little help from Briess Organic 2-Row Barley.
Those are all the players. We do everything from start to finish here on our farm, 12 miles south of Athens with only these ingredients. There is no short cut. We do not buy “neutral grain spirits” and flavor them. We want to craft the highest quality product we can from the best raw products available. This costs more money and takes more time, but it is the way we are. This is our passion, passed along for your enjoyment.