Vodka’s pretty neat, isn’t it? It’s crisp, clean and has a freshness that can stand up to even the frostiest freezers. It can be swirled into creamy White Russians, tangy Bloody Marys and dry Vodka Martinis — whilst packing the same punch it has when served as a shot. Vodka’s versatile, is our point. It’s a multi-skilled spirit; a do-it-all drink.
But there’s one thing vodka can’t do — and that’s derail the ongoing global juggernaut that is gin. During the last decade, gin has taken over the world. Brimming with botanicals, it has snatched the clear-spirit crown away from vodka and left it languishing, forgotten, behind the bar.
Until now. AMASS, a California-based brand and band of experimental distillers, have taken gin’s earthy edge and infused it into high-quality vodka, creating ‘Botanic Vodka’. But how did they do it? How does AMASS know so much about these herbs, florals and fruit flavours? That’s simple; because they also produce a lip-smacking, flavour-packing gin — and it’s with that we shall start.
In 2019, AMASS launched its first botanic-heavy gin. A celebration of the natural terroir and diverse cultural landscape of contemporary California, it supplanted ‘London’ for ‘Los Angeles’ to offer a fresh dry gin for a new continent. Gone were the fusty traditional botanicals of authentic British brews — replaced by an exciting roll-call of modern, innovative flavours.
And it’s quite the list. 29 distinct, piquant botanicals give AMASS Los Angeles Dry Gin its flavour, including (take a deep breath): Coriander, Cedar Berries and Bark, Angelica, Orris Root, Cassia, Fennel, Licorice, Cubeb, Cascara Sagrada, Cacao, Cardamom, California Bay Leaf, Juniper, Ginger, Fresh Lemon Peel, Fresh Grapefruit Peel, Bitter Orange Peel, Dried Lemon Peel, Hibiscus, Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Reishi Mushroom, Clove, Nutmeg, Ashwagandha, Sarsaparilla, Long Pepper and Kaffir Lime Leaf.
It’s an exciting spirit to sip — with the classic juniper taking a back seat to more exciting, unexpected flavours. And it’s been an incredibly well-received gin around the world, taking home awards from the Ultimate Spirits Challenge, the Bartender Spirits Awards and the Gin Masters, among others.
But even more exciting was AMASS’ next step. Master Distiller Morgan McLachlan knew vodka had more to give — so set about exploring how she could imbue the flavours and fervour of her gin into another spirit. It was a journey that led her to Copenhagen, where she discovered the percolating power of local aquavit stills.
These stills — the fuel of Scandinavia’s rich, vibrant drinking culture — offered up an opportunity to create excellent, pure vodka and enrich it with botanicals in the process. Distilled from wheat and mixed with marigold, chamomile and lemon, the result is a non-gin for gin-lovers — a soft, smooth spin on the harsh, spiky stereotype of vodka.
It also looks the part. Stripped-back and pared-down, the stone-grey bottle speaks to the minerality and natural ingredients inside. Because this is a clean vodka; a spirit free from additives, artificial flavours, colourings and glycerin. It’s even vegan. And the purity of its production shines through with every sip.
You’ll first taste bitter lemon on the palate — a zing that soon subsides into round, rolling flavours of summer grass and iced tea. On the finish, you get the same syrupy citrus enjoyed on the nose — but with a big bouquet of wildflowers, a scattering of grains and a cereal sweetness to end.
But don’t take it from us. A discerning drinker always makes up their own mind. And, with more time than ever on our hands to explore and experiment with our signature spirits, there’s never been a better time to invest in one of these handsome, botanical bottles.
Want more exciting, singular spirits? Add a little la dolce vita to cocktail hour with Portofino Gin…
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