Bently Heritage Estate Distillery Releases New Juniper Grove Alpine Gin
Wandering through the enchanting Sierra Nevada forests, one may never expect the exquisite ecosystem also produces ingredients for imbibing.
However, among the pines, Master Distiller for Bently Heritage Distillery Johnny Jeffery found inspiration for the Minden, Nev. maker of spirits’ latest release. Prevalent piñon pinecones and the aromatic, flavorful resin they exude were the muses for Bently Heritage Estate Distillery’s new, taste-bud-titillating Juniper Grove Alpine Gin. “What distilling is about is concentrating essences,” Jeffery explains. “Terroir is subtle in wine, but overt in spirits.” He sought to make a gin that “created the experience of walking through an alpine forest in the rain.”
The food chemist-turn-distiller often sets off on professionally driven outdoor adventures to find botanical ingredients, tasting and sniffing possibilities along the way. Jeffery’s creativity then shifts into high gear, as it did for the new Alpine Gin.
Tradition Meets Technology
Since 1906, two towering silos have been a landmark for the Minden area, structures which partly comprised the Minden Flour Milling Co., opened by the Dangberg family, largely considered the founders of town. Mechanical and electrical engineer Donald Bently bought the land in the ‘60s, giving a home to his thriving company, the Bently Nevada Corporation, that was eventually sold to General Electric.
As a child, Bently’s son Christopher would play in the abandoned buildings on the 60,000-plus-acre Bently property, several now on the National Register of Historic Places. Eventually, young Chris grew into a man passionate about the environment, which trickled into his founding of Bently Ranch, a sustainable agriculture and cattle ranch on his family’s land.
Married in Scotland, Christopher and Camille Bently had a strong fascination for the country and culture. Scotland’s Speyside region and the abundant single-malt whisky produced there was of particular interest. A desire to create a world-class American distillery and single-malt whiskies that would rival all others was born. After five years of planning and construction, the Bently’s vision came to life.
Historic buildings were given some “modern intervention”, with the help of Bay Area architect and lead designer Gideon Hillman. Adaptive reuse of the resources already there was priority. Today, some of the revived buildings have earned highly prized Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum and Gold certification.
“As we exhumed the bones from this place, we saved all the parts and repurposed them again. We can’t reinvent the past, but we can re-use it,” says Hillman. “It was an architect’s dream. Everything is necessary in here, there’s nothing that isn’t.”
The completely automated distillery is equipped with ultra-modern technology, designed with aesthetics in mind. An impressively sized copper still bookended by wood and steel aging vessels greets guests on tours. A smaller copper structure dubbed “Carlito” by the team serves as an experimentation still.
And nearly everything entering those stills came from their outdoor surroundings.
Small Batch, Huge Flavor
Only a handful of estate distilleries exist on the planet. Thanks to Bently Heritage Distillery, small, historic Minden now boasts one.
It’s truly a farm-to-flask operation.
Among the thousands of acres of land, 2,500 are devoted to the grains that go into their spirits. Twenty varieties of corn, oat, wheat and barley are grown on the estate, then used in Bently’s Source One vodkas, Juniper Grove gins and several different expressions of whisky that won’t see the light of day for years.
With 98% of ingredients used in their spirits being grown on the estate, it takes approximately three to four months to see a gin to fruition. Currently, the newly released Alpine iteration is the star of the show.
Eleven different botanicals went into the new, triple-distilled Juniper Grove Alpine Gin, including juniper, lavender, orris root, chamomile, cardamom, grapefruit zest, gentian, lemon balm, orange peel, angelica and, of course, locally sourced piñon.
Bently’s gins blossom on the nose and palate much like a beautifully botanical wine. Subtle citrus notes are bright, with juniper tones invoking the outdoors on the tongue. The Alpine Gin is eye-opening, pleasantly pungent to both mouth and nose. It tastes like a bit of the season in which the piñons were harvested carried over into the bottle.
At the Alpine Gin release party, one attendee named Peter who described himself as a professional ski bum stated, “It’s like a pine tree festooned with fruit ornaments!”
Book a distillery tour and tasting by visiting Bentlyheritage.com, or pop in and explore their wares in the on-site Public House tasting room.
Bently Heritage Estate Distillery
1601 Water Street
Minden, NV 89423
Written by Natasha Bourlin