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St. George Spirits of Alameda, Calif., was founded by Jorg Rupf, a German immigrant and a former judge in his home country. It started in 1982 – before people had begun speaking of a craft-drinks movement in America – by making fruit-based eaux-de-vie like those for which Germany's Black Forest is famous. It grew, and it gained Rupf renown for his pioneering role as an entrepreneur in a big-brand-dominated world.

The founder, who retired in 2010, championed local ingredients, and this fine gin – created by new proprietor and master distiller (and St. George veteran) Lance Winters – is a splendid example of the company's emphasis on "terroir," a term borrowed from the wine world. While most gins rely overtly on juniper for their defining flavour, this one takes us on a California-forest and chaparral tour. Most prominent among its botanicals is Douglas fir, which imparts a fresh, pine-like essence. Then there are California bay laurel, coastal sage and fennel along with several more essences (including orris root, angelica and juniper) more familiar to gin-o-philes.

In my experience, offbeat gins often have trouble finding their balance, veering so deeply into uncharted waters at times that they come across more like bad shaving cream or discount-motel-chain soap. This one's a fresh, woodsy-breezy change of pace. Perfect for a dry martini, it might be wasted on a gin and tonic (but don't let that stop you if that's your pleasure). Available in Ontario in limited seasonal quantities, various prices in Alberta, $59 in Quebec.

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About the Author
Life columnist

Beppi Crosariol writes about wine and spirits in the Globe Life and Style sections.He has been The Globe's wine and spirits columnist for more than 10 years. In the late 1990s, he also wrote a food trends column called The Biting Edge.Beppi used to cover business law for ROB and previously edited the paper's weekly technology section. More


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