America’s Answer to London Dry Gin: Bluecoat

May 11, 2017

In February, we were first introduced to the brand new state-of-the-art distillery that now plays home to Philadelphia Distilling. This month, our team was thrilled to be able to tour the new facility and learn more about the 2017 People’s Choice for Best Distillery, including getting to know the award-winning Bluecoat American Dry Gin.


Philadelphia Distilling was the first distillery to open in Pennsylvania after Prohibition. What is PD’s place in the local spirits history?

Aaron Selya, Head Distiller: The big thing for us is that Bluecoat was one of the first gins in the nation that was able to distinguish itself as an American Dry Gin – different from the London Dry Gins that were available at the time. We get a lot of people that come to us and say, “I don’t like gin, but I like Bluecoat.” That’s because it’s a different flavor profile from London Dry Gins.


Tell us about Bluecoat’s unique flavor profile.

London Dry Gins are defined by the emphasis on juniper as the primary flavor, and the other botanicals are just there to prop up the juniper, which is heavy. With Bluecoat, we wanted citrus and juniper to share the stage. Citrus is definitely the first thing you taste. We use a softer variety of juniper so you don’t get a sharp helping of that Christmas tree flavor.


How does the Bluecoat Barrel Finished differ in flavor?

The Bluecoat Barrel Finished is the same spirit, but aged in new American White Oak barrels with a medium char for a couple of months. It’s a transformative experience for the spirit. It goes from an American Dry Gin to something else. These are bourbon barrels, so those flavors are pulled into this spirit – vanilla, sugar, toasted marshmallow, raw oak.


Why are we seeing so many barrel finished spirits in the market?

America is in a unique place right now. We have all of this wood that cooperages have been using for the bourbon industry, and there is an excess of used bourbon barrels being dumped into the market, which is why you’re seeing a lot of breweries age beer in bourbon barrels. So we’re working with cooperages to get barrels that work for us, and we’re taking the bourbon flavors that people really like and infusing it into our spirit. Our Barrel Finished works great in traditional whiskey cocktails – Old Fashioneds, Manhattans. We’re getting whiskey drinkers to think about gin a lot more. And gin drinkers are recognizing it as a gin still, but it has whiskey characteristics and they appreciate the easy-drinking nature of it.


What are some unique characteristics of the Philadelphia spirits scene?

A lot of the founding fathers were distillers. One of the first cocktails was the Fish House Punch, which was invented here in Philadelphia. The founding fathers drank it as they were plotting the Revolutionary War. However, there wasn’t much to say about the local craft distillery scene until about 10 years ago when we popped up.


What’s next for Philadelphia Distilling?

We have been making a lot of whiskey this year, but we’re about to put them into barrels, so that won’t be ready this year. 


See below for a full photo tour of Philadelphia Distilling. 

Philadelphia Distilling


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