Last June, I was killing some time walking around Washington, D.C. when I stumbled upon the District Distillery tasting room on U Street. There is a lively bar on the second floor, but the tasting room was empty except for me and the man working there. I sampled both their traditional gin, Checkerbark, and WildJune, bought a bottle of WildJune, and continued my walk.
What makes the gin at District Distilling really unique is the juniper they use. Instead of distilling their gins with common juniper, they forage wild juniper berries in the West Texas mountains. WildJune uses wild Red Berry juniper which has juicier berries than traditional juniper. Their Checkerbark, a take on London Dry gin, gets its name from the green berried juniper they use to make it. The two junipers are very different from each other and so are the gins. There is something satisfying knowing you are drinking gin from a wild, foraged, uncommon juniper berry. I think someone could make an entire line of gins each hyper-focused on the sixty different species of juniper around the world.
In addition to Red Berry Juniper, Wild June uses ten other botanicals, including coriander, citrus zest, centennial hops, lemon balm, and cinnamon. It has enough complexity to enjoy it neat. The cinnamon and the hops are clearly present. It is spicy with a heat from both the spices and the alcohol which measures at 90 proof. Mixed with tonic it has enough flavor to hold up to a two to one tonic to gin ratio, and it has the right profile to be a go to gin for a Bees Knees or a Martini.
The bottle I have was hand-labeled as Batch 1, which they originally planned to make only about 650 bottles of. Also written on the label in silver is the alcohol content and the year it was bottled. It is a rather busy bottle, with flowers and even a bee in muted colors. They were selling them in the tasting room for $35 but now you can find them cheaper online. You shouldn’t have to pay more than $30 for a bottle.
WildJune is an excellent sipping gin in the New Western Style. It is complicated but balanced, with no single flavor overpowering the others. Overall, it is a solid gin and one worth adding to an extended gin collection. If you are in D.C., it is worth stopping by the tasting room, but if you want a better deal on the gin, that might not be the best place to pick up a bottle. Recommended
Gin # 005
G&T Ratio 1:2
Distillers notes: “WildJune is for the Wild at Heart. This premium craft gin boasts 11 botanicals including wild Red Berry Junipers foraged from the West Texas Mountains. Handpicked junipers coupled with cinnamon and hops gives this unusual gin its exceptional flavor. Bold, complex yet subtle and seductive— this gin is for the adventurer in all of us.”