I recently attended a gin tasting at the newly opened Tongue-Cut Sparrow. Master distiller, Tom Nichol, was in attendance to speak about his latest venture with J. Rieger & Co. Known for his 40 plus year career with Diageo making Tanqueray gin, Nichol was lured out of retirement to make this very special gin.
Based out of Kansas City, MO, J. Rieger & Co, has been making whiskey and gin for the past two years, but this month marks its first appearance in Texas. J. Rieger & Co. is the brainchild of Kansas City bartender/restauranteur Ryan Maybee and Andy Rieger, relative of pre-Prohibition distiller Jacob Rieger. Together they sought out to resurrect the distillery and produce a London-Style Dry Gin.
Upon arrival at the tasting, Andy and Ryan introduced themselves and then pointed to a gentleman at the bar and said “This is Tom Nichol.” Unbeknownst to me, I was standing in front of a legend. Knowing that many industry folks attend these tastings I naively asked, “Tom, what do you do?” To which he replied, “I make gin – that gin (pointing to the J. Riger bottle on the bar).” Ooops, my bad!
Lucky for me, Tom Nichol is a cool guy. He was very interesting to speak with and even took the time to pose for a selfie. The rest of the evening involved discussion on the J. Riger & Co. products and the art of gin making, which included lots of colorful commentary by Nichol.
Nichol was intrigued by the opportunity to partner with Maybee and Rieger. The ability to make gin in a smaller scale, more relaxed environment was something that peaked his interest. The Midwestern Gin is a classic London-Style Dry Gin. According to Nichol, the key to making good gin is getting the botanicals right. This formula includes the best juniper, coriander, angelica root, licorice root, and orange peel available. Nichol says he can tell just by the nose if the batch is ready or not.
The taste is exceptional. It’s crisp and clean - perfect for sipping on its own or in a Gin Martini. Rieger’s Midwestern Dry Gin is currently available exclusively through Victory Wine Group. Ask for it at your local liquor store. You won’t be disappointed.
Le Bistro Houston, located inside the Culinary Institute Le Notre, recently hosted a Charles Krug Wine Dinner featuring guest speaker Dominic Mandola. The dinner included a six-course wine pairing along with commentary from Mandola over the history of Charles Krug Winery and the Mondavi Family. It's always nice to be able to spend time with a fellow wine lover so fortunately The Corkscrew Concierge was able to join me for the evening.
For starters, guests received a trio of bites expertly paired with a variety of Charles Krug wines. The 2016 Sauvignon Blanc with its crisp acidity and hints of citrus held up well with the salmon ceviche. A goat cheese and berry tart was paired with the berry forward 2014 Pinot Noir. Finally, a lamb croquette was served with the 2013 Merlot.
The first entree of the evening was a seared scallop served on top of a vibrant green pea puree. It was an excellent compliment to the 2015 Chardonnay, aged six months sur lie in French oak. Although not super buttery, the aging was enough to give it a creamy richness. Next up was a New York strip with a balsamic reduction paired with the 2013 Family Reserve Generations. Generations is a Bordelaise style blend (88% Cab, 6% Malbec, 4% Merlot, and 2% Petit Verdot) aged 19 months in new French oak barrels.
Dessert was a beautiful layered blackberry and lemon torte with pistachio sponge cake and blackberry jelly paired with the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet had hints of dried berries and a touch of cocoa on the finish. Overall, it was a wonderful evening and we were even able to meet some of the talented culinary team members that helped prepare our meal.
About the Author
I like eating, traveling, and enjoying liquid libations. I'm all about great wines, signature cocktails, and local brews.