Tag Archives: oregon gin

Crater Lake Gin

crater lake gin
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

Ransom Old Tom Gin

Ransom Old Tom Gin

Old Tom is a type of gin that dates back to the 1700s, and it ends up being the hybrid of London dry gin, genever, and whiskey (yes, whiskey). The legendary root of the “Old Tom” name is that in English alleyways during the gin craze, wooden cats would adorn the walls outside bars, and upon inserting your coin into the old tom cat, a proper dispense of gin would pour out, and you could be on your way after a slurp!

I started this review, then, by constructing a wooden cat dispenser in order to properly taste this gin.

I’m just kidding. It’s become a bit of a life’s goal for me, though, to try every gin that I can, and once I discovered that some new companies have begun distilling Old Tom, I had to get my hands on some. From what I can tell, only one brand of Old Tom gin is distilled and distributed in the United States: Ransom.

Old Tom is a sweeter gin than London dry, but more “gin-like” than genever. Ransom Old Tom’s base is malted barley (like scotch), and it’s aged for a short time in barrels, so I had no idea what to expect flavor-wise. I suppose I thought I would be drinking some sort of Southern Comfort-style sweet whiskey with some juniper flavor?

Now that I’ve cracked off it’s wax seal and had a taste, I can tell you that Ransom Old Tom is astounding gin, tasting completely gin-like and familiar, but with an added spice and a tiny sweetness that lingers long on the tongue. Ransom Old Tom is most definitely perfect in a Gin Old Fashioned:

Gin Old Fashioned

  • Add 1 sugar cube (or spoon of sugar) to an old fashioned glass
  • Douse with 3 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Add a splash of club soda and stir well
  • Fill glass with ice, add 2 oz of old tom gin, stir until cold
  • Take a piece of orange peel, squeeze over the glass and rub it around the rim
  • Top with another splash of club soda
  • Garnish with the orange peel and a cherry (I wrap the cherry in the peel)

Ransom Old Tom Gin retails for $37.

Aviation Gin

Aviation Gin

From the great state of Oregon comes Aviation Western Dry Gin, a $30 bottle with quite a bit of character. When I taste gin, I always have it stirred on ice and strained into a chilled glass, like a 100% dry martini. I’ve found it helps me nail down the stand-out flavors of each bottle, and with gin, there’s always a stand-out flavor. Juniper may seem the obvious choice, but depending on the distillery, citrus, spice, or some other botanical may lead the way.

Aviation says that Western Dry gin takes its cues from London Dry gin, but also lets another flavor “share the stage” with the juniper. With Aviation, it’s lavender, and this is the most floral gin I’ve tried yet. So what do you do with a floral gin? A martini is always a great way to enjoy the subtle differences between gins, and making one with lavender flower garnishes instead of an olive is great. Beyond that, though, is the classic cocktail that shares it’s name with this very gin: the Aviation.


  • 2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz maraschino liqueur (like Luxardo)
  • 1/4 oz lemon juice
  • Shake and strain into a cocktail glass
  • Garnish with a cherry