Good Libations: Eco-Conscious Gin from Botanicals to Bottle

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Gray Whale Gin celebrates the California Gray Whale by mindfully crafting a delicious spirit that embodies the flavors of the Golden State.

Good Libations is a regular Bluedot feature that serves up info on how to make sustainable (and delicious!) drink choices.


Gin is comprised of a distilled neutral spirit (often a grain like wheat or barley) that’s aromatized or infused with a variety of botanicals, traditionally including juniper berries.The result is typically light, citrusy, and herbal. 

Gray Whale Gin always catches my eye on liquor store shelves because of its vibrant turquoise packaging. When I set out to sample and learn more about the spirit, I found that the contents live up to the brightness of the gorgeous bottle. Gray Whale Gin has made it their mission to be completely transparent with their ingredients because they are proud to incorporate local, sustainably-sourced botanicals.

The founders of Gray Whale Gin, Marsh and Jan Mokhtari, share a love of California’s natural beauty and founded Gray Whale Gin as a way to celebrate the California Gray Whale. The California Gray Whale has the longest annual migration of any animal, traveling 12,000 miles along the Golden State’s coastline. All of the botanicals used in crafting Gray Whale Gin are sourced from along the California Gray Whale’s migration route.

The California Gray Whale has the longest annual migration of any animal, traveling 12,000 miles along the Golden State’s coastline.

They are also either wild foraged or sourced from small, local farmers and include juniper from Big Sur, kombu from Mendocino County, almonds from Capay Valley, limes from Temecula, fir from Sonoma, and mint from Santa Cruz.

The botanicals used in Gray Whale Gin are not only thoughtfully sourced, but their integration into the base spirit is intentional as well. Juniper, kombu, and almonds are poured directly into the pot still (the vessel in which distillation takes place) to impart strong flavors into the spirit during the distillation process. Limes, fir, and mint are suspended above the base spirit in a vapor extraction bag to subtly aromatize the gin. Additionally, all of these botanicals serve a specific purpose in developing the unique flavors of the gin: Juniper and fir add a refined cedar quality, kombu balances the sweetness of the corn base with an earthy umami flavor, almonds bring creaminess to lengthen the finish on the palate, limes brighten the aromas in the glass, and mint gives each sip a cooling sensation.

The base spirit itself is 100% corn. Compared to wheat, barley, or other grains you may expect as the distillate for gin, corn has a notable sweetness. The GMO-free corn base is distilled six times and is naturally gluten free, which makes this libation more accessible to folks with gluten sensitivities.

Just as the gin itself is crafted eco-consciously, so is Gray Whale Gin’s beautiful and bright packaging. They use organic pigment in the glass bottle and seal the gin with a biodegradable cork. The company also collects empty Gray Whale Gin bottles from bars, restaurants, friends, and neighbors, and upcycles them into candles scented with some of the gin’s botanicals. The candles are available to purchase on the Gray Whale Gin website.

Image courtesy of Gray Whale Gin

As a business, Gray Whale Gin is dedicated to making choices that have a positive payoff for the environment. The company gives back through 1% for the Planet where they pledge to contribute at least one percent of annual sales to environmental causes. They also partner with Oceana, the world’s largest ocean conservation organization — 100% of the profits from recycled bottle candle sales go directly to Oceana. Additionally, Gray Whale Gin does virtually no paid advertising so they can focus their revenue toward giving back.

Gray Whale Gin is available throughout the United States. If you’re not seeing it on the shelves, put in a request with the staff at your local liquor store!

Julia Cooper’s Good Libation: My favorite way to enjoy gin is in a simple cocktail. While everybody loves a good G&T, I usually opt for a gin mule. A gin mule is terrific for Gray Whale Gin as it will emphasize the notes from lime and mint while bringing in some spice and bubbles from the ginger beer. An effervescent delight packed with delish aromas!

Ingredients

¾ oz. fresh lime juice

1 oz. simple syrup

8 fresh mint leaves

1 ½ oz. Gray Whale Gin gin

1 small bottle of Fever Tree ginger beer

Directions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle together mint leaves, simple syrup, and lime juice.
  2. Add gin and a scoop of ice to shaker.
  3. Shake vigorously until outside of shaker becomes frosty.
  4. Double strain into a glass filled with fresh ice.
  5. Top with ginger beer.
  6. Enjoy!

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Julia Cooper
Julia Cooper
Julia Cooper is a columnist for Bluedot Living with a passion for environmentally conscious food and beverages. While completing her master's degree in Writing & Publishing at Emerson College, Julia curates the natural wine and craft beer program for Black Sheep Market in Cambridge, Mass. Julia's cat Sofia is retired from her eight years as the bodega cat for a fine wine store on Boston's Newbury Street.

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