Crater Lake has a wide range of spirits (distilled by Bendistillery), though this rye is their first aged spirit,. Until now, it was just clear stuff – gins (which I really liked) and vodkas.
I love rye whiskey, and this is a decent one, though a tad on the mild side. Crater Lake is a nice, copper colored whiskey that’s 95% rye and 40% alcohol. Even with 95% of the grain being rye, the spice is pretty tame. Maybe this is because of the 40% alcohol level (some of the more premium ryes can be as high at 60%), or maybe it’s something in the aging (Crater Lake doesn’t list the age of this whiskey).
At $30, Crater Lake Rye will get you a whiskey that has a really nice smell, some marzipan/almond sweetness in the flavor, with a touch of apricots and cherry. The alcohol hits you in the nose a little bit, particularly for a lower-alcohol spirit. It is a good cocktail rye, and it’s a good sipper too.
Crater Lake Gin is a straw-colored gin from Bendistillery in Bend, Oregon, who also makes several varieties of vodka. While its label calls it “Handcrafted American Gin,” one of those words can be misleading: American.
I’ve said before that my personal gin preferences lie with London Dry gins, though I love nearly all gins I encounter. American gin, or “western gin,” as it’s sometimes called, usually has another botanical flavor that’s supreme over the juniper that London Drys are known for.
Not so with Crater Lake. For my personal taste, this gin makes the best-tasting martini I’ve ever had. It’s a juniper-lovers gin, with a bit of spice in the finish. It’s silky and smooth, and I’ve nearly drunk half the bottle making strictly martinis. Tasted neat, the spice is more obvious, and the gin is a bit more potent when it’s not ice-cold.
Crater Lake, which was known previously as Cascade Mountain Gin, and can be found throughout the U.S. at retail, or online for about $30. Make it in a martini like this:
- 2 1/2 oz gin
- 1/2 oz dry vermouth
- olive garnish
- stir with lots of ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass