Hermann’s Black Shire Distillery is one of the state’s best, and they might have the best gin too

American gin is a very broad and loose category—pretty much anything goes as far as botanicals are concerned, so long as a hint of juniper berry is “perceptible.” 

Hermann’s Black Shire Distillery is one of the state’s best distilleries, with the pot tended by Derek LeRoy. His father, Paul LeRoy, has been the winemaker at sister business Hermannhof Winery for four decades. 

For his new line of quarterly seasonal gins, Derek could go about as far afield as he wanted so long as a little juniper remained perceptible. A winter gin that’s groggy with baking spices? A super citrusy spring offering that could go racing into a greyhound? That’s not what he wanted to do.

Rather, his two new gins have the same backbone, with plenty of juniper accented by a burst of bitter citrus. They’re riffs on the same refrain, wearing their family resemblance proudly even as the spring offering goes a little more into lemony and orangey territory while the winter one lays back with touches of clove and allspice.

March is shoulder season, and if you’re lucky, you might be able to find both at Black Shire’s tasting room a block from the old train station in Hermann. 

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