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02 Jul 2024 | Jeremy Dugan


July’s Spirit of the Month is the Dry Gin from Sông Cái, one of the first Vietnamese Gin producer. Very aromatic, before tasting the Gin you are introduced to bold spice characteristics (reminding me of cinnamon and bark). On the palate, the spice notes from the nose become very subtle. Instead, notes of dried flowers, juniper, black licorice, sweet citrus, and delicate sweet herbs all blend together to bring wonderful balance flavor profile. Those spiced aromatics from before, come out more on the end, along with the juniper and black licorice.

It wasn’t just the flavor profile of the Dry Gin that drew me to making this the Spirit of the Month. I got to meet the Owner of Sông Cái, Daniel Nguyen, at a trade event earlier this year and was very impressed with his focus on working with small farmers and using native heirloom grains and local botanicals for his products. The company works with over 70 families that either farm or forage grains and botanicals, while Daniel and his group invest in processing equipment and facilities for those families to process their harvest. Another cool stat is that their distillery staff is 100% local and 60% are Indigenous females. Sông Cái is a Vietnamese saying meaning “Mother River”, and I find that very fitting for what Daniel Nguyen is doing. And while we are focusing on their Gin, I would also like to note Sông Cái also makes rice wine and has a fermentation lab in Vietnam.

Rivers can connect people (or things) from one side of a country to another. Working with minority communities, predominantly Red Dao, H’Mong and Nung communities, Daniel is connecting these family farmers/foragers to resources that otherwise would be unattainable to them. He is connecting the outside world to these uniquely Vietnamese grains and botanicals that we wouldn’t get to try on a normal basis. And most importantly (at least to this history fanatic), Daniel is connecting everyone to the Ancestors of Vietnam that farmed/foraged for these grains and botanicals long before the idea of making them into an alcohol was around. Connecting and understanding history is an important part of understanding who and where you are now. And Sông Cái is allowing us to connect to a piece of Vietnamese history with their delicious Gin.

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