In the fall of 2014, Millers & Saints Distillery quietly entered the local liquor scene with its vodka. Unlike the majority of craft spirit producers, the company has continued to operate somewhat under the radar, albeit successfully and with a hyperlocal following. This slow, focused growth is similar to that of Steel Toe Brewing, which shares space with the distillery and assists in brewing its washes.
When we first visited Millers & Saints, owner Joe Muggli was clear that the whiskey and bourbon, resting in stacked barrels in the small space, would not be rushed. The barrelled gin, however, was released months ago, seemingly to tide the public over.
Historically, gin was not put into barrels for flavor and color as other dark spirits were. A trend over the past four years or so, though, has been to rest the botanical spirit on wood. The motivation is broad — some distillers want to experiment with the technique to add smoothness, while others want to bring out characteristics akin to rum or tequila while still producing a more locally authentic product. (This means avoiding the traditional agave and sugar cane, which aren’t equipped to grow in Minnesota.)
Millers & Saints Barrelled Gin is of the pre-Prohibition style, meaning that it is on the sweeter side, with botanicals that are similar to a London dry, but less potent in the juniper department. The aroma contains strong warm spice notes including allspice and cinnamon. Although the label describes lemon and vanilla, the bulk of the flavor is cardamom and allspice with a hint of oak. There is a significant alcoholic heat throughout sipping, though it is 80 proof.
The gin displays more barrel character than the Tattersall version, and the mix of botanicals is different from J. Carver’s Barrel Gin, which contains more citrus flavor and is brighter on the palate. The Millers & Saints rendition will likely please the majority of juniper-loving gin drinkers, but the mix of flavors seems more appropriate for cooler nights than peak patio season.