With long and harsh winters, Rochester, N.Y. seems like an unlikely home for a refreshing summertime spirit. But Black Button Distilling, the first grain-to-glass craft distillery in Rochester since prohibition, has crafted the spirit of the summer with their award-winning Citrus Forward Gin.
A fresh revival to a classic spirit, Black Button’s Citrus Forward Gin took almost a year to perfect and is a smooth, contemporary take on the old school drink. With notes of cinnamon on the finish and a bright fresh citrus flavor, this gin further positions the young, but fast growing farm distillery tucked up near the Canadian border as a leader in craft beverage scene.
Founded by owner/head distiller Jason Barrett, a Rochester native, in June 2012 at only 24 years old, the Black Button distillery, tasting room and retail store opened to the public in January 2014, offering craft spirits, tastings, tours and private events. Today, over 1,350 bottles of world-class spirits are produced each week and every batch is distilled, aged, bottled, labeled, and hand numbered in the distillery. Barrett plans to expand production to 2,700 bottles a week by June 2015.
Specializing in farm to still products, Black Button Distilling uses unique and all-natural ingredients from local farms to craft their spirits and their Citrus Forward Gin is no different. A rarity in gin these days, the Citrus Forward Gin is made with local hops, which add a nice complexity to the nose without bitterness in the actual taste. The final product has a beautiful strong fresh start, some great savory notes in the middle, and a long lingering citrus finish towards the end.
One of the more difficult spirits to design, Barrett said he considered the flavors within the gin, and also how they work together straight up and in cocktails. “I’ve always had gin in Gin & Tonics and would often ask the bartender for extra lime or lemon wedges to tone down the juniper,” he said. “When we began crafting our gin, I started with that toned down juniper note and a strong fruit forward taste.” Barrett found that orange citrus notes — more than lemon – worked best.
This attention to detail and patience has paid off for Barrett. Perfect for gin veterans and newcomers alike, the small batch gin was recently awarded a bronze medal for contemporary gin at the 2015 American Craft Spirits Association 2015 Awards.
The American Craft Spirits Association is a trade association representing the US craft spirits industry, whose mission is to promote and protect the craft spirits producers in the US. Their annual Distillers Convention & Vendor Trade Show is the largest gathering of licensed craft spirits producers in the U.S.
“This competition is important because it’s the only distilled spirits competition in the country where master distillers judge each other’s products,” said Barrett. “To see our hard work and our products appreciated by our fellow industry members is one of the highest compliments I have ever received.”
No stranger to hard work, as a kid, Barrett worked alongside his grandfather in his family’s button factory, where suit buttons worn by Presidents, Popes, Kings, and businessmen the world over have been produced for four generations. He later began brewing beer in college and realized his dream of opening a distillery while working as a business consultant in Washington DC.
After attending several distilling schools across the country, Barrett, who is color blind (hence the name Black Button – the family joked that if he ever took over the button factory, they would have to switch to only making black buttons), returned to Rochester, NY to realize his dream and open the first craft distillery in the Rochester since prohibition.
Black Button Distilling pays homage to Barrett’s grandfather and the world he knew – where real men worked hard and drank hand-crafted spirits like Black Button’s Citrus Forward Gin on hot summer days.
Whether it’s in a gimlet, Negroni, or gin and tonic, Black Button Distilling’s Citrus Forward Gin is the gin of the summer – and really, all year round.
Visit Black Button Distilling at www.blackbuttondistilling.com
Black Button Citrus Forward Gin: THE GIN OF SUMMER
Summer in a Bottle
16 oz. Black Button Citrus Forward Gin
4 oz. fresh lime juice
4 oz. honey
Combine in a bottle and keep in the fridge. When ready to serve, shake the bottle and pour over ice in a tall juice glass.
Black Button Gimlet
2 oz. Black Button Citrus Forward Gin
1 oz. Rose’s Lime Juice
Fill glass halfway with ice to chill. Add a scoop of ice to cocktail shaker. Add ingredients and shake minimum five times. Strain into glass and garnish with a lime wedge.
Sunny and 85
1 oz Black Button Citrus Forward Gin
4 oz Tonic
10-12 drops Fee Brothers Gin Barrel Aged Orange Bitters