St. Augustine Distillery

St. Augustine Distillery – A truly handcrafted gin

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The St. Augustine Distillery combines unique crops with a dedication to preserving old knowledge. The result is some really one-of-a-kind products. Here is the tale of their New World Gin.

 

Saint Augustine, Florida

The historic city of Saint Augustine is worth mentioning even if it is not the topic of this post. Saint Augustine was founded 451 years ago on September 8, 1565. The founder was Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Florida’s first governor. The city was the capital of Spanish Florida for over 200 years.

The Spanish-inspired architecture in St. Augustine is worth a visit in itself, the fact that it has a unique distillery makes it a 2-for-1 experience.

Casa Monica during the Nights of Lights. (Picture: visitstaugustine.com)

 

 

St. Augustine Distillery

Hand packing of the St. Augustine bourbon (Picture: Bjørn Christian Finbråten)

Situated in Floridas oldest ice plant, built in 1907, the St. Augustine Distillery is a truly small-batch operation. They are currently producing one rum, one vodka, two bourbons and three gins.

What they lack in volume they make up for in passion and dedication.  Locally grown sugar cane, corn, wheat, and citrus are the basis for all of their products.

In close cooperation with local farmers, the St. Augustine Distillery are preserving crops and knowledge unique to Florida.

The 45 employees of St. Augustine Distillery like to do things the old fashion way. All products are hand packed.

 

Gin production

The 50-gallon gin still. (Picture: Bjørn Christian Finbråten)

The three gins are all made in the smallest still. The capacity is just 50 gallons or 189 liters.

The Saint Augustine Distillery distils their spirit from scratch using sugar canes. The herbs are all hand ground just before being added to the still. The juniper goes into the still without being crushed. This makes for a more gentle juniper taste than in many other gins.

In September this year, the Saint Augustine Distillery was named Americas best craft gin distillery for their New World Gin by the newspaper USA Today.

 

New World Gin

St. Augustine Distillery
The New World Gin (Picture: Bjørn Christian Finbråten)

This is their original gin. The alcohol content is 47%.
The juniper creates a subtle backdrop to the more prominent citrus taste and the spicy notes such as cassia bark and Angelica.  In 2015, the New World Gin was awarded two gold medals, one at the San Francisco International Spirits Competition and one at the American Craft Distilling Association in Austin, Texas.

 

Sweet White Vermouth Barrel-Finished Gin

Released in the summer of 2016. Limited to 1.200 bottles. 50% alcohol.
This is the New World Gin aged in sweet white vermouth barrels for one year. This gin has a nice mix of citrus and vanilla. My personal guess is that it would go well in a martini with a dry vermouth.

St. Augustine Distillery
The Barrel Aged Gin (Picture: Bjørn Christian Finbråten)

Sweet Red Vermouth Barrel-Finished Gin

Released in the summer of 2016. Limited to 1.200 bottles. 50% alcohol.
This is the New World Gin aged in red vermouth barrels for one year. This gin has a lot of herbal notes. It is too complex to mix and is, in my opinion, best enjoyed on the rocks.

The below video explains the history behind the St. Augustine Distillery gin.

 

The distillery tour

The Saint Augustine Distillery offers free tours every half-hour. The tour includes tasting of all their products and ends in a well-stocked gift shop. The tour is well worth the time. I left the gift shop with the New World Gin, their Strong Tonic Syrup, and a new mat for my bar at home.

I would recommend a visit to the bar and restaurant on the second floor after leaving the gift shop. The place makes ice cubes in the same way they used to do in the ice factory decades ago.

 Saint Augustine Distillery
Our tour guide in front of the bourbon barrels. (Picture: Anett Finbråten)
 Saint Augustine Distillery
Detail from the gift shop. (Picture: Bjørn Christian Finbråten)
 Saint Augustine Distillery
Tasting in the distillery’s bar. (Picture: Anett Finbråten)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This 8-minute video shows how they are working with local farmers to preserve crops unique to Florida.

You can find more information about the St. Augustine Distillery on their web page: staugustinedistillery.com

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