Staple Gin Review

Drink Reviews gin
Staple Gin Review

If you’re approaching the world of celebrity spirits/liquor from a cynical angle–and who could really blame you, if that was the case–then the natural assumption is to conclude that most of the brands being launched in recent years are soulless cash grabs, attempts to rapidly build a decent sized brand with name recognition that can then be sold off to a major producer at a huge profit, Casamigos-style. This is why we tend to at least allow for the idea that celebrity owned brands could be lower in quality, but in truth I think it’s not often necessarily a question of “quality.” It’s more a question of ambition. When I see a new celebrity liquor, my assumption isn’t really that the spirit will be “bad,” but that it will most likely be conventional and safe, in order to allow for maximum market penetration and recognition. Rarely do these releases stand out as “bold” or unusual in any way. And that’s what makes Rachael Ray’s new Staple Gin an odd outlier among its various peers.

Because really: What would you expect when told that you were going to sample a bottle of gin from one of the Food Network’s most successful on-air personalities and merchandizers? Without any other information, I would probably expect something light and approachable, a fruit-forward (and likely sweet) expression of what spirits geeks would refer to as New Western gin. Or in other words, something designed to go toe-to-toe with the New Amsterdams of the world.

And yet, Rachael Ray’s Staple Gin is about the furthest thing from that. It’s significantly stronger, for one thing, with a 47% ABV (94 proof) strength that puts it on par with the likes of Bombay Sapphire. But the strength is just a minor element; it’s the botanical profile that really carves out an unusual niche for this product. Distilled in the Catskills by Roscoe, New York’s Do Good Spirits, Staple Gin was conceived as both an expression of New York state terroir and a reflection of some of the Italian-esque elements that typify Ray’s cooking. And if you’ve ever watched the likes of 30 Minute Meals over the years, you probably already know that means elements such as extra virgin olive oil. Staple Gin then doubles down on that theme through the use of Castelvetrano olives and tarragon, supplemented by more typical gin botanicals such as coriander, orris root, bitter orange peel, bergamot and of course juniper.

The result is a bolder and more earthy/herbal profile that flies in stark contrast to what is often popular in gins that are trying to seek the widest possible consumer base in the U.S. Granted, Ray has already stated that a more citrusy and “bright” Staple Gin expression is coming at some point, but I still find myself admiring that they chose to launch it with this weirder and likely more personal expression first.

So with that said, let’s get into tasting this bottle.

On the nose, Staple Gin leads off with floral and perfumey notes, also evoking the gentle brine of green olive. There’s a sweetly resinous quality on the nose as well, suggestive almost of sweet basil or pesto. One thing you don’t get as much here is citrus in comparison with so many modern American gins, as this takes more of an herbal and earthy direction.

These impressions carry over on the palate, which is quite herbal and resinous. Heavy floral notes combine with green olive, fresh herbs and some almost hop-like bitterness, while residual sweetness is only mild here. Coriander spice is fairly prominent and distinctive, along with impressions of chamomile. You know immediately when tasting this that it isn’t an 80 proofer, as the assertiveness of these notes is quite apparent and it comes in slightly hot. Overall, this makes for an unexpectedly bold approach, almost aggressively so, but it’s an intriguing fusion of earthy notes, florals and herbs with modest sweetness and some balancing bitterness.

Personally, I am not a big olive fan from a culinary sense, so this gin is at a bit of a disadvantage in appealing to my own personal flavor wheelhouse. However, I like that they went out and forged a distinctive profile for this launch, and I expect those who gel with its particular botanical profile will love the way this will no doubt punch through the noise in a cocktail. Certainly, in a landscape full of monotonous celebrity spirits, this stands out as one of the more iconoclastic examples, which is a good thing. If you enjoy herbaceous gins, or olive, you’ll want to make time to check this one out.

Distillery: Staple Gin (Do Good Spirits)
City: Roscoe, New York
Style: Gin
ABV: 47% (94 proof)
Availability: Limited, 750 ml bottles, $38 MSRP

Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident craft beer and spirits geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.

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