Step aside, Beer City. There’s a new beverage taking over the 616.


Since the early 17th century gin has been a spirit staple. Originally derived as an herbal medicine made from juniper berries and vodka, gin has become one of the most popular spirits around the world. Because of its popularity, Gray Skies Distillery co-owners Brandon Voorhees and Steve Vander Pol knew that having a killer gin recipe was necessary for drawing a crowd in a city primarily known for its brews.


“The process of creating our Barrel Finished Hop Gin was equal parts fun and frustrating. We would change our formula by as little as one gram to each individual botanical just to find the perfect taste,” said Vander Pol. “We tried, and tried again to achieve the right balance of flavors, and finally after 100 iterations, we found ‘the one.’”


How is GSD able to differentiate their gin from the competition?


The difference between GSD’s Barrel Finished Hop Gin is primarily due to its unique barrel finishing process. GSD’s gin is accented with white oak in its finishing process, adding a flavorful accent and amber-like color to the spirit. The beauty is in the details.


“We added hops to our botanical recipe to accent the citrus flavors. Our botanical recipe was specifically designed to compliment the oak flavors added in the barrel finishing process. As a result we have a flavor forward gin that can still sip just like a whiskey,” said Vander Pol.


Vander Pol and Voorhees’ patience in crafting their Barrel Finished Hop Gin surely paid off. The spirit has already received multiple awards at prestigious competitions, including:


  • Gold Medalist – 2016 MicroLiquor Spirit Awards
  • Gold Medalist – 2016 New York International Spirits Competition
  • Silver Medalist – 2016 Washington Cup Spirits Competition


The co-owners accredit their unique tasting spirits to the local supporters that are open to trying spirits that stray from the norm.


“There is already an established spirits industry with plenty of great spirits being made by large distilleries. If we don’t take risks and try to make our products more interesting than what’s currently on the market, then what’s the point of making a batch?” said Vander Pol.