by Eric Ginsburg
It took me less than 24 hours to hit a liquor store in Winston-Salem, but two of the three carrying Sutler’s Spirit gin were already sold out.
Sutler’s, the Triad’s first legal distillery in basically forever, dropped its long-awaited first product on April 21, and after delivering this newspaper around east and north Winton-Salem the next day, I swung by an ABC store just before 5 p.m., but I missed my chance.
Luckily hundreds of locals like me had an opportunity to try Sutler’s gin a few days later at the distillery’s launch party at the West End Mill Works, but it will be a while before the beautiful black ceramic bottles hit ABC shelves again; they have to distill more first.
Well-known Winston-Salem bartender Tim Nolan developed the gin’s flavor profile, which is nothing short of incredible. He and Scot Sanborn, the charismatic and humble founder behind the brand, won’t reveal the specifics of the recipe, but I’m more interested in how the sausage tastes than how it’s made.
The gin is excellent straight, in a gimlet, or as gin and tonic, the forms I managed to sample during the opening party. I’m confident it would do well anywhere gin is welcome. Eventually, Sanborn plans to put out a rum as well.
Sutler’s Spirit’s neighbors, Tex-Mex restaurant the Porch and brewery and bar Hoots, both ran out of gin on April 25 during the distillery’s launch event. Two sell-outs in one week, and not for a lack of preparation.
Even when it makes a comeback, Sutler’s won’t be available in Greensboro ABC stores yet — Each ABC board runs its own show, just one of many seemingly unnecessarily cumbersome hoops that distilleries have to jump through to get a bottle in your hands. But still, people in the Gate City are eagerly awaiting it; while I was at LaRue for my Barstool column (page 27), a bartender told me he can’t wait to stock it. And there were plenty of Greensboro residents who flocked to the kickoff event.
So to the Greensboro ABC Board: Please stock the only local distillery, both in the North Carolina section and on the gin shelves. To the countless Triadians who haven’t tried Sutler’s Spirit yet: You have plenty to look forward to. And to Sanborn and Nolan: Thank you for this gorgeously wrapped and fantastically flavored gift you’ve crafted to share with us.
[Photo: A gimlet with Sutler’s Spirit gin at the distillery’s launch party, alongside some of the food provided. Photo by Kacie Ragland.]