Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin ($39): The uncle in questions is that of founder August Sebastiani. He both named and modeled this gin after Uncle Val. The botanicals used (Juniper, Cucumber, Lemon, Sage, Lavender) are what he’s said to grow in his garden in Lucca Italy as well as cook with. The packaging nods to the past with a bottle made in Italy that brings to mind Bitters bottles from a couple hundred years ago. The label also evokes history. Another tribute to the past that highlights the small batch nature of this project, each bottle is hand numbered.I’ll be honest, a lot of Gins, many of them really well known, remind me way too much of a Christmas tree; an artificial one to boot. In short that’s the beauty of Val’s. The aromas and flavors are fresh, natural and remarkably appealing. Sipped neat it’s pretty easy to pick out each of the botanicals that were used to create it. The flavors here are vibrant, refreshing and simply alive. There’s a firm acidity that keeps things crisp. But let’s face it Gin is a spirit that really isn’t intended for solo sipping; it is however a killer cocktail component. I played around with a number of different classic drinks, all with pretty tasty results. However the concoction that really excited me the most was this variation on a Negroni. Considering all of the Italian influences in Val’s it seems perfectly reasonable to me.
1 Part Uncle Vals Botanical Gin
1 Part Montenegro Amaro
3/4 Part Red Vermouth
Pour the first three ingredients into a shaker over ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a rocks glass. Add one ice cube and garnish with a twist of orange.