The First Gin Born in Texas: ROXOR

Roxor:   adjective – Roxorz, Roxored. Definition: Variation of the word Rocks. Using the slang definition meaning something that is good, or great, or awesome. Usually found when playing online games.

“Dude, I roxor at counter strike, no one can beat me!”Source: Urban Dictionary

Roxor; a palindrome and a declaration of awesomeness. Does this new Gin live up to its name? Hell yeah.

Gary and Kevin Kelleher, owners of San Luis Spirits, the makers of Dripping Springs Vodka, had always wanted to branch out beyond vodka. Gin is a logical choice, as its one of the great spirits of the world, so Gary started working on a recipe. While they were in the exploratory phase they got a call from Don Short, former Coca-Cola executive, and Robert Del Grande, James Beard award winning chef – principals in New Artisan Spirits. It turns out they were interested in creating a new Gin made at the San Luis Spirits distillery. It was meant to be. After a 15 month gestation, the collaboration resulted in the birth of Roxor Artisan Gin, the first Gin made in Texas.

Gary Kelleher gave me a run-down of how Roxor came to be. Del Grande, who in addition to being a brilliant chef also holds a PhD in Bio-chemistry, brought a creative new recipe to the brothers Kelleher for production in the ultra-pure the Dripping Springs process.  Gary tells me that the key thing to making a great Gin is the combination of botanicals, the freshness of the botanicals, the steep time and the temperature of steeping.

There are several ways Gin can be formulated and distilled from a starting point. They tried various methods for steeping and multiple methods of distillation including, cold filtered method, to get the right flavor profile. They found a particular steeping method to capture the freshness of the ingredients including juniper berries, freshly grated Texas grapefruit zest, fresh Texas limes and a blend of botanicals including hibiscus and Texas pecans.  What? Hibiscus and pecans? That’s right, the recipe is completely unique.

The team wanted a more balanced flavor than the traditional piney, juniper-forward London dry style of Gin. They worked to refine the recipe to bring out the brightest flavor and not overly dominated by the pine needle flavor of juniper. While many Gins use citrus peals, Roxor stands alone in its dedication to using fresh Texas ingredients to give it a character that screams Texas.

Gary recommends drink this Gin chilled and neat to get the true flavor profile. If you’re not a fan of straight Gin, Roxor mixes incredibly well with a variety of mixers including the traditional tonic, which still lets the vibrant flavors come through. Gary is fond of making a Martini with Roxor and Lillet Blanc instead of vermouth to get a classic Martini profile with brightness and range of flavors.

I tasted it chilled, served neat in a snifter to get the full aromatics and unadulterated flavor. Here’s what it tastes like.

Look Crystal clear like pure spring water, with ample viscosity and tight tears.
Smell Bursts of juniper berries dance with alcoholic heat followed by soft citrus and lavender undertones. The alcohol intensity mellowed nicely as it rested.
Taste The approach is ruled by warm juniper that eases into clean grapefruit, cinnamon and walnut. Bright as a chiming bell and as layered as a gospel choir, it doesn’t need a lemon twist garnish with all of that sunny citrus. It’s both sweet and bitter at the same time. The mouthfeel is glycerin smooth with just enough heat on the throat to remind you that it’s 90 proof.

 

My initial reaction on the first taste was, “oh my goodness. Yum! Dude, this is so roxor.” I mixed a second glass with tonic, and sure enough the citrus aromatics and complexity shone through.

Are you ready to try it? Be patient. It is just at the beginning to roll out in a few select liquor stores in Texas and will hit the shelves more broadly state-wide later in June. Because it’s a unique product, New Artisan Spirits has given samples to a number of prominent mixologists in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Austin to create their own signature craft cocktails. I’m going to check in at Haddingtons and Bar Congress to see if they mix it with their hand-made tonic. I bet Péché and Trace at the W Hotel will come up with some unique cocktails too.

If you live outside of Texas, you’ll have to come here to try it. There are currently no plans to distribute Roxor beyond the state of Texas. Because this is an artisan spirit, it is labor intensive and time consuming to make. Think of all the grapefruits and limes that have to peel off their clothes just to keep you happy. To make this limited production Gin, Dripping Springs added special designated stills and steeping urns at the distillery. Production in the first year will be probably less than 5,000 cases, which will only slake the thirst of happy Texans. I’m damn glad to be one of them.

New Artisan Spirits provided a sample of Roxor for this review.

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