The giant cedar tree outside of Snohomish was famous for a tall opening at the base that bicycles and even horse-drawn wagons could pass through. It was known as the Bicycle Tree. Gone for many years, it was a major landmark in the burgeoning agricultural town in the valley.
Now the tree is getting some more headlines courtesy a local distillery. Ryan Hembree, owner and head distiller at Skip Rock Distillery, is naming his newest creation, a Northwest-inspired gin, after the iconic tree.
“I had the name picked out for five years,” Hembree said. “We wanted to create a product with a sense of place. It’s a drink with a unique Snohomish story.”
Skip Rock is known for its award-winning rum, whiskey and liqueurs, including its latest big winner (see below). But gin had been missing from the lineup since Hembree stopped making it a few years ago. That doesn’t mean people weren’t clamoring for it.
“Customers have been asking for gin for a while,” said Hembree, who taught a gin class at an American Distilling Institute conference in 2014. “I knew that I was going to make it again, but it had to be the right timing.”
Hembree started working on a recipe in 2015 and finally carved out enough time to begin experimenting this past year. He said he knew he wanted to make a classic London dry gin with a Northwest twist, and nailed it after the second test batch.
Instead of using juniper like most gin recipes, Hembree added rose hips, raspberry leaf and mint. In place of citrus, he used lemongrass. The ingredients give the gin a light, crisp flavor without losing its character.
“I felt it needed to be smooth enough to drink but also stand up and be able to to blend well in cocktails,” Hembree said. “It’s not a shy gin. I wanted a robust, crisp flavor profile that is also well-balanced.
“We’re very excited about it. I absolutely love it.”
Bicycle Tree Gin, which will become part of Skip Rock’s core lineup, went on sale April 21 at the distillery for $32.95. Hembree will also be pouring it at next weekend’s Snohomish on the Rocks festival.
Skip Rock honored by ADI: Skip Rock’s Raspberry Liqueur won gold and was named Best in Class at the 11th annual Craft Spirits Awards at the American Distilling Institute Conference in early April.
The distillery’s Coffee Liqueur and Nocino Walnut Liqueur won silvers, and its Triticale Whiskey, Bicycle Tree Blueberry Gin, Whiskey Barrel-aged Spiced Apple Liqueur and Gin Barrel-aged Nocino took home bronze medals in their class.
Snohomish on the Rocks: The sixth annual Snohomish on the Rocks distillery event is from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. April 29 at Thomas Family Farm, 9010 Marsh Road, Snohomish. Meet distillers and enjoy the products from a number of local distilleries, including Skip Rock Distilling, Temple Distilling, Bad Dog Distillery and more. Ticket packages range from $40 to $60 and include tasting tokens, food vouchers and more. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit snohomishontherocks.com.