March 10, 2017 – It’s Friday evening and after a ferocious week, you crawl home feeling like you’re at death’s door and thinking of resuscitation. In this case, reaching Death’s Door is a good thing because it’s the name of one of the most acclaimed domestic gins that will revive your spirit and improve your disposition towards all the people and things contributing to your hellish week – your boss, clients, co-workers, traffic, the weather, etc.
In the pantheon of amazing gins, Death’s Door ranks at the top as an American triumph, available nationally and currently sold in 19 foreign countries. The name is as memorable as it is curious which is helpful when it comes to remembering a brand worth searching for. The name comes from the most treacherous waterway in the Great Lakes separating Washington Island in Lake Michigan from Wisconsin’s Door County Peninsula. Here the currents are severe and while no one knows for sure why the passage is called Death’s Door, the loss of 350 ships may have something to do with it.
Death’s Door Spirits hails from Middleton, Wisconsin where its founder, Brian Ellison is a man of conscience. Washington Island had a thriving agricultural economy at one time but starting in the 1970s, farming began to falter. In 2005, Brian became involved in helping farmers regain their livelihood by growing organic hard red winter wheat used for baked goods and beer. By 2007 the first five acres had grown to 1,200 acres and the wheat became the basis for a distilling business. By 2009, Death’s Door Gin was in international distribution and was named “Spirit o
f the Year” by Wine & Spirits Magazine (an excellent magazine but no relation to us.)
The striking flavor of Death’s Door Gin comes from a very simple botanical mix of wild juniper berries that grow on Washington Island plus coriander and fennel seeds added to the base distilled from hard red winter wheat, corn and malted barley. Each grain adds to the canvas of a London Dry style that is enhanced by the addition of the botanicals. The first burst of flavor comes from the wild juniper berries gathered by the farmers on Washington Island. We picked up on the anise flavor of fennel that is just enough to be interesting but discreet enough to suit our personal taste, which doesn’t favor anise. The coriander adds spicy notes bringing it all together to create a very pleasant and interesting drink.
We became aware of Death’s Door Gin when we read about their new bottle, designed to lessen the repetitive stress injury suffered by bartenders. We’d watched bartenders, especially in competitive events, shaking cocktails with great exertion and marveled at the amount of exercise they get. However, we didn’t think about the damage that could be caused by the cumulative weight of all those bottles of booze they hoist every day in their vocations. We got the kitchen scales out and weighed a few bottles and it was quite eye-opening that most were over 2.5 lbs and several were 3 lbs plus. That was just 750 ml bottles! These people are weight lifters and no wonder their wrists, elbows and shoulders suffer damage.
Brian Ellison decided to do something about it and working with glass manufacturer Anchor Hocking in Monaca, Pennsylvania, designed a bottle that will make it easier for bartenders to grip and pour Death’s Door Gin. It is also a full pound lighter for the one-liter size used in bars. Further, having the bottles made in the USA instead of France, Death’s Door has cut carbon emissions by two tons per shipment.
In addition to supporting local farmers, processors and entrepreneurs, Death’s Door Spirits is a part of a hundreds of companies around the world committing 1% for the Planet.
Death’s Door Gin is available just about everywhere in the U.S. and retails for around $29.99.