March 21, 2016

After Six Years, a Kosher for Passover Gin is Perfected

San Francisco - Just the thought of a Passover Gin probably makes even the most avid cocktail fan wonder. Leslie Rudd, founder of Distillery No. 209, found out that his quest for a Passover Gin was much harder than he thought. In 2010, he asked Ginerator & Master Distiller Arne Hillesland and Winemaker Jonathan Hajdu from Covenant Wines to craft a Kosher-for-Passover version of No. 209 Gin. Initially, Hillesland thought the recipe for the flagship No. 209 Gin could be used while simply changing the base spirit to a Passover-certified spirit. After consulting the Orthodox Union, it quickly became apparent that it was a much more complicated endeavor. For the next six years, Leslie worked on a solution. A Passover-certified sugarcane base spirit was selected as a substitute for the grain-based spirit used in the flagship No. 209 Gin. Among the key botanicals in the flagship gin, cardamom presented the largest challenge. The exotic spice is not Kosher-for-Passover, leading Hillesland to conduct many test distillations to select a suitable botanical to replace the cardamom in the recipe. After much diligence, California bay leaf was selected from Rudd Farms on Mt. Veeder in Napa Valley as a substitute.

The Orthodox Union (OU) oversees the entire distillation process of No. 209 Kosher-for-Passover Gin, starting with hand-sorting coriander and other botanicals to ensure forbidden grains do not enter the product, all the way though distillation and bottling. In addition to bay leaf, Hillesland uses bergamot orange peel, lemon peel, juniper berries, coriander and cassia bark to craft this unique gin. Several years later, No. 209 Kosher-for-Passover Vodka was created as the companion product due to popular demand.