Bob Marley, sainted icon of steady-rollin’ life and mellowest of the Mellow Fellows, said once, “Some people feel the rain…Others just get wet.”
I’m gonna give you one small but very pleasant way to Feel the Rain…
Indio Spirits, of Tigard, Oregon, is still – after ten years in business – not a huge operation. Back when John Ufford started it, in 2004, it was tiny. Indio (short for INdependent DIstillers of Oregon) produced barely 1,000 cases in ’05 and has steadily progressed to 9,000 in 2013. Today, with a high-speed bottling line – and a growing legion of fans – Indio is fast becoming one of Northwest distilling’s genuine grass-roots success stories.
I recently had a bottle of Indio Cricket Club Gin cross my desk and it was a welcome sight, frankly, after the endless stream of Vodkas and Whiskeys that I’ve been sent lately. I came late to the Gin party, really only developing a fondness for it in 2009, when I received the first botanical gin I had tasted. The aspect of Gin that I was sick to death of was the pervasive and unbalanced juniper character which, of course, is kinda what Gin is all about. I just never liked the ones that were all about juniper, unrelieved, with background flavors that the producers tried very hard to eliminate. Modern botanicals celebrate the use of juniper in harmony with what can be literal dozens of artful infusions, putting them squarely in the wheelhouse of a guy like me, who quickly tires of simple beverages.
My favorite, still, is the amazing Spring 44, made in Denver, but there have been about five or six others that compared favorably, especially Bruichladdich-produced “The Botanist” Islay Gin, Ransom’s “Old Tom”, Phillips’ Prairie Gin, and our own local Port Steliacoom Distillery “Homeport” Gin. For the first time ever, except for a long-held (well, since its introduction in 1999, anyway) fondness for Hendrick’s, I started just sitting and sipping (and loving!) straight Gin, as soon as I tasted the Spring 44.
Now, I have to add another gin to that short list…and I’m tickled pink that I can because fully 40 samples went past me before Cricket Club showed up. They were all Much Of A Muchness. Cricket Club is not.
Cricket Club is actually a fairly straight-forward botanical: there’s suggestions of tangerines, lemon peel, coriander, white pepper, gooseberries, nutmeg, and eucalyptus, with a ridiculously refreshing infusion of lemongrass on the finish. In various reviews that I came across before receiving this bottle, I found Cricket described as “mild”, and, indeed, it is very pleasingly easy to drink. But “mild” carries a little taint of the ordinary that this Gin in no way deserves. Cricket Club is vibrant, assertive, and beautifully transparent in its flavor profile. There is absolutely nothing cloying or annoyingly persistent about it. It finishes clean, with a subtle, pleasing aftertaste that’s vaguely reminiscent of cucumbers, and the core flavors actually feel lively and colorful on the palate. Like only the Spring 44 and Port Steilacoom, Cricket is a pure sippin’ Gin; a bottle you can stick in the freezer and haul out in the heat to just sip a wee dram and achieve Serious Coolness. Some of the Gins I’ve liked most for their flavors have almost required a little tonic or club soda to tame their bombastic wallop. Anchor’s “Junipero” is a perfect example; a Gin so bold and punchy that it needs a little something to scale it back a bit.Cricket Club is absurdly crowd-pleasing just as it is, a Gin for newbies and veteran Gin fanatics alike and one that blends like a chameleon with a good, unprissy tonic, soda, or mixed fruits. 95 Points
I admit to being an Indio newbie, myself. This is only the second one of their current eight selections I’ve sampled and I tasted their Snake River Stampede Whiskey…on the same day as Cricket Club. Much more on that little gem later…
What I also like, appreciate, and admire about this – and all of Indio’s products – is Ufford’s staunch resolve to price the booze so that mere mortals can afford them. Our base Washington sticker price on this is comfortably in the $18 – $22 price range, making it one of the two or three least-spendy permium botanicals on the market today. Of course, that figure swells to around $28 or $29 with our asinine Nanny-State, clueless, jerky, extortionistic tax and “liter fee”, whatever the f__k that is. (Actually what all of it is is our state’s ongoing hissy fit about being put out of the liquor business by fed-up consumers who were sick of bearing the nation’s highest liquor taxes. The dullards in Olympia will never get that, if they just scaled back the tax, eliminated the phony “liter fee”, and allowed small wine and beer shops to sell liquor, they’d rake in FAR more revenues than they did while running state liquor shops and supporting the bloated infrastructure needed to run them. Of course, Washington is far too busy writing laws to enforce the buckling of seat belts and taxing for grocery bags to trifle with crap like filling its coffers legitimately.)
But, even at our jerky $29, Cricket Club is a Major Bargain and if you love today’s imaginative, artful American Gins, I urge you to pick up a bottle and Lively Up Yourself, like today…mon.
The previous address for sending samples to The Pour Fool has CHANGED. Please send all samples to
Steve Body/The Pour Fool
418 East 50th Street, Tacoma, WA 98404-1348