St. George Spirits Gets “Gin-trified”

The tasting room with the best view of the San Francisco skyline is not at a winery. It’s in an airplane hangar.

The hangar is home to St. George Spirits, the Alameda distillery best known for pushing the taste envelope with fruit-infused Hangar One vodka and an ever-widening circle of other specialty spirits and liquers.

Distilling equipment at St. George Spirits, Alameda, CA

Where the Magic Happens at St. George Spirits

In honor of San Francisco Cocktail Week, which runs Sept. 19-25, I dropped by the distillery at its home on the old Alameda Naval Air Station to taste three brand new bottlings of gin, the first they’ve ever made.

I’m not a gin fancier, by nature. My preference is the Hangar One vodka lineup, especially the Buddha’s Hand version that’s flavored with citron.

How would chief distiller Lance Winters’ team — which has made malt whiskey, rum and even a tequila-inspired spirit called Azul made from imported Mexican agave — handle the gin challenge?

Very well, I’d say.

Three Choices on a Central Theme

I liked something in each of the three offerings — Botanivore, Terroir and Dry Rye.

Three Gins from St. George Spirits


The Botanivore tastes the most conventional, but with the base juniper flavor amped up by a combination of 19 different botannicals.

I liked it best with just a twist of lemon on the rocks, but it also made one heck of a classic martini when paired with  few drops of vermouth and served straight up from an ice-filled cocktail shaker.


The Terroir takes that botannical note a few steps further.

It’s made, like the others, from a pot distilled mixture of juniper berries, Douglas fir, fennel and bay laurel gathered from nature.

A fellow taster at the distiller told me this gin smelled like a hike in the woods. My wife had the same reaction, remembering the intense smell of Bay Laurel from a hike in Lake County several weeks before.

I like Terroir best with a twist of lime and a dash of grapefruit bitters over ice. The Bay Laure was a bit overpowering, however, when mixed with tonic water.

Dry Rye

The third offering, Dry Rye, is based on a clear rye spirit that’s flavored with juniper berries, black pepper and carraway seeds.

It mixed well with tonic water  and a wedge of fresh lemon for a new take on the classic G&T, with all of the flavors coming together in a smooth, cool drink that made a warm afternoon much more tolerable.

A three-pack of 200-ml bottles sells for $36. Standard-size fifths go for about the same.

These are high-end spirits with high-end flavors that fit the bill for a highly enjoyable end-of-summer celebration.

Oh, here’s the view:

SF Skyline from St. George Spirits, courtesy


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