Kosher for Passover Vodka and Gin

Distillery No. 209, in San Francisco, makes two special spirits which are Kosher for Passover. Before Passover, Jewish families cleanse their households of any grains, or anything made from grains. That includes the obvious, like bread, and the less obvious like single malt scotch or aged bourbon (don’t get too excited, you’re not getting the Pappy – these are often “given” to a gentile for the eight days of Passover, and then “given back.”).

To make their Kosher for Passover Vodka and Gin, Distillery No. 209 uses sugar cane. In the gin, it also has to forego cardamom, a typical gin flavoring. It makes up for it with Bergamot orange, bay leaf, lemon peel, cassia bark, coriander, and angelica root.

Distillery No. 209 Kosher for Passover Vodka

The vodka is very clean on the nose, with only a light, soft, alcohol aroma. On a second sniff, a hint of magnolia, but far in the distance, pops up. Magnolia and honeysuckle, floral and sweet, are  gentle but clear with a sip. Warmth follows, flowing, then growing, then stopping just before it could be overwhelming, and it settles down again, sweet again. On the finish, it is sweet and very slightly herbal. All these flavors and aromas can be clearly picked out, but only in the faintest hints, in a clean, neutral spirit. This is quite good, and can be enjoyed year around, even after you get the bourbon back from the neighbors. Mix it if you must, but it’s really very pleasant stirred with ice, then strained over a hibiscus flower in syrup. Highly Recommended. 91 points.

Distillery No. 209 Kosher for Passover Gin

Like all gin, the primary aroma and flavor is juniper, but there is a lot more going on here. The juniper may play first violin, but there is a whole orchestra behind it. The citrus shows through clearly on the nose, and so do the herbs. On the palate, juniper has to share the stage with the citrus and sweet angelica. Lemon peel shines through as the other flavors fade away. This is not a juniper-forward straight London Dry Gin, but a more modern western version, hanging citrus and botanicals on the juniper framework. It is really quite lovely, with a lingering citrus finish. Drink over ice, or find out the closest small-batch local dry vermouth maker, and make martinis. Highly Recommended. 93 points.