Renewed Spirits with Beehive Distilling
Jack Rabbit: The Ugliest Gin in Town
by Robert Grange
In a nondescript warehouse just west of downtown Salt Lake City, Utah’s newest distillery is starting to gain a cult following. Beehive Distilling, run by locals Matt Aller, Erik Ostling and Chris Barlow, has released their Jack Rabbit Gin to Utah, and it is simply fantastic. Highly botanical, deliciously floral and unlike any other gin you've ever tasted, this is what Utah distilling has been missing.
True Utah locals at heart, Erik, Matt, and Chris seem to relish adding their personal stamp to the state’s unique culture. Artists by trade (Erik and Chris started in photography and Matt in media and design), they have adopted the same artistic approach to making alcohol, and it definitely shows. From the exquisitely designed stamp and logo down to the painstaking attention to the perfect gin taste, these guys take their craft seriously. And it’s a damn tasty craft, too.
The origins of Beehive Distilling stem from the simple urge to make an enjoyable product in the company of friends. Matt, Erik and Chris definitely have more than they bargained for now, and that is by no means a bad thing. With gin poised for a comeback, being the curators of Utah’s first legal gin operation since prohibition is a good place to be. Despite the success, the trio is still as down to earth as ever. When asked about the business end of things, Chris casually replied, “everyone needs a job, and ours is making hooch”. We hear you, Chris, and we are on board.
Beehive Distilling has been in the works since late 2013, but it wasn't until recently that the gin started flowing, so to speak. It took Erik, Matt and Chris a few months to navigate the dense legislative hurdles, both federally and locally, before they could begin production on the gin in earnest. All the while, the trio were searching for the perfect, unique and individualistic gin taste. When I asked why they chose gin over some other type of alcohol Chris replied very quickly “we pitched gin because you can do something with it. Everyone makes whiskey these days and vodka doesn't have any creativity in it”.
The uniqueness of their gin is as apparent in the production as it is in the taste. Unlike many gins out there today, Jack Rabbit Gin combines multiple botanical elements and its creators are unafraid of complex, bold flavors. Rather than being a liquor that exists simply to be mixed or covered up by other flavors, Jack Rabbit Gin can hold it’s own by itself or in any cocktail. The distillation process includes rose petals, lemon peels, sage, orris root, grain of paradise, coriander and juniper, all of which combine for a wonderfully interesting flavor profile. And if that seems like too much to handle, don’t worry; the gin is also smooth and silky enough to drink by itself.
The trio are unafraid to try something new when it comes to gin. Partly, it stems for the need for more quality and unique gins out there. But it also comes from their goal of creating a product that they just plain like to drink too. First and foremost, these guys made a spirit that they enjoy, and now they are banking on other people discovering it’s quality as well. They seem to regard themselves as artists first and gin distillers second. As descriptions of spirits go, art seems to fit Jack Rabbit pretty well.
And what do the Beehive guys have planned next? Aside from beginning to expand to other states such as Wyoming and Idaho, they've been aging their damn fine gin in oak barrels to see if they can get something even better. Set for release later this fall, you should keep an eye out, because if it is anything like the gin they have on the shelves at your local liquor store right now, it’s going to be excellent.
Remember to drink Jack Rabbit Gin and to stay Ugly!
Follow Beehive on Instagram: @beehivedistilling
Written by Robert Grange :: Culture Editor, Ugly Magazine
All Photographs taken by Kevin Lucey