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California’s Gray Whale Gin Comes to New Jersey

by Abby Montanez
gray whale gin

I’ve written about my love of gin a few times now for The Digest, and even covered what felt like a “Ginassiance.” Just a few years ago, craft distilleries started popping up everywhere, even close to home here in Hudson County. Usually, I’m a stickler for buying local, but when California’s Gray Whale Gin comes to New Jersey for the first time, you give it a try. 

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a chilled glass of wine during the warmer months as much as the next person. However, gin is for me the official spirit of summer. Now, imagine sipping a Tom Collins on the waterfront. The wind in your hair, the smell of salty sea air. No, you’re not at the Jersey Shore. Gray Whale Gin has transported you to the California coastline. 

About Gray Whale Gin

Founded in 2018 by husband and wife duo Marsh and Jan Mohktari, the couple came up with the idea for Gray Whale Gin during a camping trip in Big Sur. While sitting on the rocky cliffs overlooking the ocean, the two watched as a pod of Pacific gray whales made their journey north. It was then that the pair decided to create a gin that was inspired by that journey—using only botanical ingredients that were found along the whale’s 12,000-mile migration trail.

In short, you can taste the maritime flavors in Gray Whale Gin. Along with their six-times distilled, gluten-free corn base, they then add a mix of organically farmed or hand-harvested botanicals grown in California. Those include juniper, kombu (seaweed), almonds, limes, fir tree and mint. If you know anything about gin, you’ll recognize quite a few ingredients are rather unlikely players, but keep reading to find out how it tastes. 

Their Conservation Efforts

Given the brand’s namesake, it only makes sense that they give back to both the ocean, and the creature that inspired their product in the first place. That being said, a portion of the proceeds from Gray Whale Gin goes towards supporting Oceana and other environmental causes.

Gray Whale Gin takes sustainability into account across the brand’s entirety from using a 100 percent biodegradable cork to organic paint to create the bottle’s bright, azure blue color. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re still recovering from a bad London Dry experience or are in the market for what I like to call a “gateway” gin, then this one is right up your alley. It’s a more contemporary or Western style of gin where typical botanicals such as juniper play second fiddle to fruit and citrus.

In this case, you get that pop of lime right off the bat. It’s not too piney in flavor, but the presence of fir is definitely there, even if it’s subtle. And hey, that’s how I like it. The almonds are supposed to add a creaminess to coat the palate, while the kombu, harvested right out of the ocean, evokes a specific oceany taste. 

gray whale gin

Photo by Abby Montanez

This is a great gin for cocktails, and you can check out recipes straight from the Gray Whale Gin website. I gave the “Whale Hello There” a try, which combines Gray Whale Gin, fresh lime juice, fresh lemon juice and agave syrup. It was light, refreshing, super delicious and you can watch me make it here.

Currently, Gray Whale Gin retails for $40 and is available at select retailers across New Jersey including Total Wine & More, as well as, via Reserve Bar, Caskers and Drizzly

Main image by Abby Montanez

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