Berkshire Mountain Distillers Creates a Bottled Gin & Tonic
If you’re looking for the next big trend in the craft spirits world, look no further than the bottled cocktail. Bully Boy recently released their Hub Punch, a pre-Prohibition punch based off an unearthed C.H. Graves & Sons recipe. Southie’s Grand Ten Distilling is soon to get in on the act with their Amandine-based Godfather cocktail, a collaborative project with Will and Dave Willis of Bully Boy. And starting this week, Chris Weld of Berkshire Mountain Distillers, now based in Sheffield, will release ready-to-drink gin and tonics that utilizes the distillery’s award-winning Greylock gin.
Unlike the Mud Slides and Pina Coladas produced by corporate entities Brown-Forman and Allied Domecq—the makers of Jack Daniels, Kahlua, and many others—these craft alternatives forego neutral grain spirits, a malt base, and high fructose corn syrup in favor of real rum, gin, and all-natural ingredients.
Weld begins with his company’s Greylock gin, a classic London-style dry gin that was heralded as the country’s best by The New York Times’ Eric Asimov. Afterward he balances it out with a house-made tonic he perfected after months of experimentation, using actual cinchona bark, citrus peel, and other botanicals.
“I’m a big tonic fan,” Weld says. “There are some wonderful craft tonics that have hit the market in the last 10 years or so. Inspired by those, I started playing around with making my own tonic. After my 25th recipe I actually came across one I really enjoyed. It’s got less sugar than the typical commercial tonic. So it has a bit more bite and bitterness. It’s also got some color to it, almost like a glass of iced tea. The rosy hue comes from the cinchona bark. It’s a a natural thing, so it’s like steeping a tea bag in the drink. You can filter it out, but we prefer to leave it in there for extra color and a much bolder flavor.”
Besides the challenges of crafting a superior tonic, Weld also had to overhaul his distillery in order to accommodate a bright tank to carbonate the beverage, and different bottling equipment to fill the 200ml bottles. Each unit adheres to the gin and tonic’s classic two-to-one ratio (tonic to gin) and weighs in at 13.3% alcohol. They’re packaged in four-packs, the equivalent of six servings, and will retail for around $16. Following the rollout of Berkshire Mountain’s gin and tonic, Weld will unveil other pre-bottled cocktails such as his rum and tonic and vodka tonic, which will also be available in four-packs.
The Berkshire Mountain gin and tonics are available at most fine wine and liquor stores in Boston and can also be purchased at Weld’s new distillery at 356 South Main Street in Sheffield. Located just five miles from its previous location, the Berkshire Mountain Distillers’ new facility accommodates tours by request and has complimentary tasting on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.