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Pick That Gin

Side Dishes: Smugglers' Notch Distillery to crowdsource next spirit

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First came the vodka, a spirit that took three years to perfect. On its heels arrived a rum, each batch of which is aged in Jim Beam barrels and has notes ranging from smoke to bananas to vanilla.

Now, Jeremy Elliott of Smugglers’ Notch Distillery in Jeffersonville has been busy — obsessed, perhaps — with crafting the perfect gin. So obsessed, in fact, that he has produced dozens of batches, and is enlisting the public to help him make the final cut at a tasting event on Saturday, May 5.

“I want people to become involved. I’m not the gin authority,” says the self-deprecating Elliott, a chemist by day and partner in the distillery with his father, Ron. “I’d like Vermonters involved in choosing the gin.”

Elliott has been working with a base of juniper berries, orange peel, coriander and angelica root, along with a proprietary mélange of sometimes-obscure spices from around the world. He says it’s taken many passes to hit on the right balance of flavors — even now, the profiles of different batches can be wildly divergent. “I’ve been defining my gin palate,” he notes. “There’s not subtle differences with gin.”

Indeed, the gins he pulls out for sampling are all clear yet intense and flavorful, with distinct profiles ranging from citrus to herbs. Elliott will choose four or five finalists for the tasting and call the final product 802 — to be in bottles by this summer.

The event takes place from noon to 5 p.m. at the distillery, at 276 Main Street in Jeffersonville.

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