The Rye-Based Gin From Still Austin Whiskey Co.
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A Close Look at the Rye-Based Gin from Texas’ Best Distillery

(Photo: Still Austin Whiskey Co./Facebook)

Still Austin Whiskey Co. is Texas’ first whiskey distillery to open in the city limits of Austin since prohibition — and it’s one of Whiskey Raiders’ favorite distilleries.

The distillery works to “bottle the incomparable spirit” of its home city “in a way that celebrates the people who make the city so rich and unique,” according to Still Austin Whiskey Co. Chief Operating Officer, Brandon Joldersma.

Still Austin Whiskey Co.’s flagship bourbons (yes, bourbon can be out outside of Kentucky) are Still Austin The Musician — which pays homage to Austin, the “Music Capital of the World” — and Still Austin Cask Strength — an intense 59% ABV expression which is bottled at the same proof that it’s aged at. With the goal of being “inclusive and original,” These bourbons are made with 100% Texas-grown corn, malted barley and rye, as shared by Whiskey Raiders.

The spirits producer is also committed to generating inclusivity in the whiskey industry, believing that “everyone should feel comfortable and empowered in their work environments, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Whiskey Raiders wrote.

In an interview with Still Austin Whiskey Co.’s Head Distiller, John Schrepel, we get a close look at the rye-based gin from one of Texas’ best distilleries.

Still Austin The Naturalist American Gin

The Naturalist is a modern gin uniquely produced with Brasetto rye and white corn. Still Austin Whiskey Co. makes its gin base from scratch, from milling the grains to fermenting the mash. According to Schrepel, this base “is the most stand out piece of making the gin; it is truly all done in house.”

The gin is distilled using two types of stills, with the base being produced on the same column still used in whiskey production.

“Traditionally gin would be made with a GNS base a neutral base. We are very rye driven at Still Austin, so it only seemed appropriate to give the gin some of that influence as well,” Schrepel shared. “We distill the base slightly lower than a typical GNS. We distill at 185 proof, which allows folks to pick up some of those key rye, and corn notes in the gin.”

The Naturalist is made with 12 botanicals. A few key players are three types of citrus, orris root, two types of cinnamon, Jamaican allspice and elderflower.

When creating the gin, Shrepel noted that he and his team “did not want to make a traditional London dry gin that was very juniper forward; rather, [they] wanted a gin with a more pleasant approach.” Schrepel believes that The Naturalist’s citrus aspect is “one of the most essential elements” of the spirit.

A Taste of The Naturalist

On the nose, the spirit is bright and herbaceous. The citrus comes through clear and crisp. A sip reveals a creamy and smooth gin with notes of baking spices and rye. We get the impression of a fruit cobbler made with plenty of cinnamon. The finish is long, smooth and just a touch oily with a final kick of black pepper.

The Naturalist was enjoyed in a Tom Collins and made for a stellar citrus-forward Negroni.

Still Austin American Gin is versatile for use in many classic gin cocktails such as a Bee’s Knees or a gimlet, but Schrepel’s personal favorite serve is a French 85 — a twist on the French 75 that replaces champaign with carbonated dry cider.

Interested in trying Still Austin The Naturalist for yourself? Find a bottle here.

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Candie Getgen is the managing editor for Gin Raiders. Before immersing herself in the world of spirits journalism, Candie has been many things: a bartender, a literary journal editor, an English teacher — and even a poet. Now, Candie shares her passion for gin with the world and hopes to help others fall in love with it, too (if they haven't already!). When not writing, Candie enjoys sipping a Negroni while drawing or relaxing by the pool with a campy mystery novel.