We stock hundreds of different wines and spirits at Worth Brothers Wines but picking out the perfect bottle for tonight’s Halloween celebrations took me a mere couple of seconds and that’s because, sitting in our spirits section, is an American Gin that goes by the suitably chilling name of Death’s Door.
As the Gin’s macabre moniker is so apt for tonight ghoulish festivities, it may suit the mood to simply take the Death’s Door name at scary face value and to get on with the party but that would be to ignore the real story behind the name that I, at the risk of being a party pooper, would like to reveal.
Death’s Door is a treacherous marine passageway that lies between Door County on the northern tip of the state of Wisconsin and nearby Washington Island. Also known as the Porte des Mortes or Door of Death, the strait is so called because it’s littered with shipwrecks. Indeed, some say it has more shipwrecks than any other section of fresh water in the world.
Back in 2005, intrigued and inspired by tales of the Death’s Door passageway, Brian Ellison, the visionary founder of Death’s Door distillery, had a dream to restore agriculture to the 22 square mile Washington Island. To that end, 5 acres of land on the island were planted with two varieties of hard, organic, red winter wheat – Harvard and Carlisle – that were especially suited to the island’s unique maritime conditions. The spirits produced from the crop were immediately successful and today the area under wheat has expanded to an incredible 1200 acres.
Simple, local and exceptional is the in house mantra at Death’s Door Distillery and, as can often be the case with these things, it’s not just a catchy strap line dreamt up by the marketing team. Only 3 botanicals – juniper berries, coriander and fennel – are used to make the Death’s Door Gin and the juniper, like the wheat, is grown on Washington Island. The coriander and fennel are sourced from within Wisconsin and the base spirit is the distillery’s own vodka.
As you’d expect, with only 3 botanicals present in the Gin, they are all easily identifiable. Up front, the calling card of quality Gin – loaded juniper berry flavours – are followed by spicy, citrus notes from the coriander seeds before it gives way to a, fennel derived, satisfyingly soft and cool finish. Death’s Door Gin is big enough to stand up to classic or vintage cocktail treatment, but soft enough to be enjoyed on the rocks or as a dry martini.
Given that it’s party night, it’s probably worth taking the time and trouble to knock up a Death’s Door cocktail or two and below you’ll find a few favourites from the team at DD.
3/4 oz. Death’s Door Gin 3/4 oz. Cointreau 3/4 oz. White Vermouth 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice Absinthe
Add all ingredients except absinthe to an ice filled shaker. Shake in a frenzied but direct fashion. Strain into a chilled coupe glass rinsed with absinthe. Garnish with a lemon ribbon.
Death’s Door Rouge
1 oz. Death’s Door Gin 1 oz. pomegranate liqueur 1 oz. red wine, dry 2 tsp. fresh orange juice
Shake all ingredients in iced cocktail shaker. Strain into chilled cocktail/martini glass and garnish with orange twist.
1 oz. Death’s Door Gin 1 oz. fresh Blood Orange Juice 1/2 oz. Cherry Brandy 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
Shake all ingredients in iced cocktail shaker. Strain into chilled cocktail/martini glass and garnish with blood orange slice
Death’s Door Gin £ 42.50