Drinks

Hate Juniper? Escubac Is the Gin Alternative for You

It tastes delicious and looks phenomenal on a bar cart
Photos: SWEETDRAM

To call gin an acquired taste would be a vast understatement. Since its early beginnings (gin is believed to trace back as far as 70 A.D.), the polarizing spirit has garnered legions of loyal fans, but not without acquiring a fair share of naysayers along the way.

To some, gin is considered nectar of the gods—and the only acceptable spirit to make a proper martini with. For others, it's nothing more than Christmas tree-flavored rubbing alcohol, only enjoyed by old men or psychopaths. But no matter on which side of fence you stand, there's a new liqueur that's going to catch your interest. Introducing Escubac, the gin alternative designed for all the juniper haters out there.

The alcoholic liqueur (note: not liquor) is concocted by macerating a blend of 14 various botanicals for 72 hours. Caraway, coriander, cinnamon and cloves are all in the mix, with the notable exception of juniper, known (and despised by some) for its citrusy-pine flavor profile. Afterwards, the mixture is distilled on a custom copper pot still before being lightly infused with raisins and vanilla for a subtle touch of sweetness. Lastly, the spirit is naturally tinted with saffron to achieve its signature pale yellow hue.

 Escubac is the brainchild of SWEETDRAM, an innovative new distillery based out of a state-of-the-art facility in Scotland. The company launched with a specific mission to introduce progressive spirits driven by flavor instead of simply conforming to the conventional spirits categories.

"Anyone can make a gin—you can buy recipes nowadays, or find one online, add one or two botanicals and call it your own," Andrew MacLeod Smith, SWEETDRAM cofounder, says. "We don't want to be different for the sake of it, but we do want to test what a spirit can or can't be and not limit ourselves by trying to pigeonhole a recipe into a category or maintain the status quo."

 The launch of Escubac marks the brand's first foray into the spirits industry. Clean and complex, it tastes similar to what you'd imagine an updated, juniper-free gin would, but in the best way possible. Spicy and citrusy, it boasts rich herbaceous and floral notes. And while it may seem like a novel concept, the spirit is a far cry from being a new fad.

It turns out that the liqueur is a riff on a long-forgotten recipe that the SWEETDRAM team discovered in Enlightenment-era distilling manuals. The Scots first created Usquebaugh (or "water of life" in Gaelic), which was then picked up by the French, updated with fancier ingredients (like cardamom) and informally rebranded as Escubac.

SWEETDRAM's modern-day adaptation is more balanced and multifaceted than its precursor—plus, it looks cooler, thanks to the bottle's minimalist geometric aesthetic. It's also extremely versatile. Try sipping it on the rocks or using it as a stand-in for your favorite gin-based cocktail. Whether you're completely gin fatigued, hate juniper, or simply want to step out of your comfort zone, do yourself a favor by trying Escubac.

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