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Dancing Goat Distillery

Cambridge, WI

 

Crusin’ Rating: B+

Booze Rating: A-

 
Crusing For Booze- Travel Blogger- Dancing Goat Distillery Outside
Photo Credit: Dancing Goat Distillery Facebook Pager

Just a short drive slightly Southeast of Madison lies Dancing Goat Distillery in the city of Cambridge, WI. Tucked behind new apartment developments and Cambridge Winery, it’s tough to see as you travel along Highway12. Making a left turn at the winery and just a brief distance off the road, the Distillery looms new and impressive at the end of a curving driveway past grape vines. Although practically amongst the vines, Dancing Goat Distillery is in no way affiliated with the winery as far as we are aware (at least in the business sense). However, with two establishments so close together, it’s easy to enjoy some libations at both stops in one trip.


Although we have been on the tour and visited this particular distillery on more than one occasion, owing to it’s convenient spot right along the scenic route from Madison to Burlington, we have never seen a Dancing Goat, nor has the name been explained to us in any meaningful way. However, the flagship product at the distillery, Limousin Rye, is named after the type of oak barrels that it’s aged in. Their other major product, Death’s Door Gin, used to have a home right here in Middleton, WI. After that distillery closed it’s doors, I’ve heard varying rumors and stories about what exactly happened and how but what I do know is that, according to the tour, the head distiller of Death’s Door (somewhat dated as this information is from 2019) works now at Dancing Goat and via some sort of partial buyout the distillery can now produce the gin under that brand name.



But I am not here to bore you with business restructuring rumors and gossip. All you need to take away is: Limousin Rye and Death’s Door Gin. If you want them, this is the place they are made.


The distillery is impressive to look at as you drive up. It has yet to have that newly built sheen wear off and I’ve seen them do at least one major addition to the on-site rickhouse and I know they have recently built the largest rickhouse in Wisconsin. They must be printing money over in that space because it is HUGE. For now, we are just going to focus on the tasting room as our review trip did not feature any type of tour. The distillery gives off a decidedly masculine-industrial vibe. Inside almost all of the surfaces are wood and just about every accent is either granite or black steel. Whiskey barrels are used in clever ways as decorations and while it’s a little one-note I think it’s overall tastefully done and Hannah agrees. Plenty of natural light floods the space that also serves as a gift shop. Every time we have been here, we’ve always been impressed with how clean the space is from barware to countertops; tables to floors, it’s always immaculate.



I took note that it was interesting the cross section of people we saw. There were guys clearly right off the farm, mud and all sipping on craft old fashioneds right next to Madison and Milwaukee area sight-seers. It was nice to see a space that had such a wide range of folks which reinforced our belief that there are quality products coming out of this distillery.


While I tried a few variations on the Rye I want to focus the review on the flagship bottle which is aged 3 years. I want to note that I tried variations (variations on the wood used to age and six year aged) but the samples were a size where I did not feel like I could justify each with a full review. Hannah got a little more adventurous and you’ll read more about what she opted for below.


Crusin For Booze- Travel Blogger- Dancing Goat Distillery- Flight

Limousin Rye - Flagship is Aged 3 years (46.5 % ABV) - This Rye pours a light orange-gold and fills your nose with notes of honey sweetness, smooth caramelized wood, dry woodsmoke, peppercorns and allspice. I always find this rye interesting as you don’t get that nose of spice until the end, and I’m always pleasantly surprised by that mellow, lazy, honey sweetness as I bring a glass up for a sip.


I find that this rye sips easy and because of it’s more laid back taste profile, I find it to easily find its way into a Sazerac at home. In fact, it’s the go to rye for making said cocktail in the Crusin For Booze home bar. While maybe not as bold as some of the longer aged offerings, and thus not my favorite to sip on, I can’t understate how well the standard has played in Old Fashioneds, Embarcaderos, Brooklyns, Manhattans and even a Scofflaw.


This rye starts slow and ends strong with some caramel sweetness, a touch of honey, and some lightly toasted dry oak on the front that fades momentarily before a rush of pink peppercorn, a little bit of sneaky vanilla, some cinnamon and allspice. I love that that almost-fruity peppercorn sticks around for a while and lets you know you’ve had a solid sip of a well-made spirit.


Perhaps my only caveat to this rye is that the oak comes from France, rather than the good ol’ U.S. of A.


Death’s Door Gin (46% ABV) - There is a LOT of gin on the market today, and I think 98% of the distilleries we have seen in Wisconsin have their own variation on Gin. To say that the competition is steep would be an understatement. As it stands though, this is our first gin of 2022 and Death’s Door does not disappoint.


This gin features heavy pine and fresh juniper berries on the nose. Hannah, our resident Gin expert really took this tasting by the horns. As you taste this gin there are notes of coriander and a little juniper and although the description boasts fennel we thankfully miss out on a lot of that licorice-like flavor that would otherwise taint what ends up being a solidly clean gin.


This gin is billed as having all of it’s juniper come from Washington Island in Door County, WI. Death’s door being the passage where ships would often sink when moving into Green Bay from Lake Michigan between the island and the mainland. I appreciate that the Juniper is coming from Wisconsin.


This is a solid, but (comparatively) pricey Gin from Wisconsin. There are cheaper and tastier options out there, but you can’t really go wrong with this gin especially if you are looking for a fairly neutral gin to use at home. Hannah was excited to try this gin at home in a gimlet.


While I was tasting more traditional libations Hannah got adventurous with her sips.


Cow Pie Liqueur (15% ABV) - This liqueur was very heavy on butterscotch smell and flavor with a little chocolate milk and cream. It both tasted and was almost the same viscosity as a chocolate malt shake from your local diner. Hannah was in love and all I could think of was the definite sickness that would follow any sort of large quantity of this.


Apple Pie Liqueur (15% ABV) - This smelled of candied apple and cinnamon with distinct overtones of brown paper bag, you read that right, like a grocery bag. It was pretty off-putting and we could not figure out why it would smell like that. It tasted of apple syrup with some residual sugar, then even a sharp taste of wet cardboard (don’t ask) and then leaves your mouth tasting like a flooded storage unit. Skip this.



We should note that three small (maybe ½ oz) samples are complimentary for your tasting, which is always nice. Hannah loved the Cow Pie Liqueur, but after learning that I would in fact, not be taking shots of that and reliving freshman year we opted out of bringing some home. It is always nice to see a distillery branch out and offer some local competition to those sort of pedestrian college booze choices (looking at you Fireball and Pink Whitney) even if they aren’t amazing.

Crusing For Booze- Travel Blogger- Dancing Goat Distillery

I keep Limousin Rye stocked in the Crusin For Booze bar year round and can tell you it will most likely be in my mind as we think of our end-of-year awards (2021 Year End Reviews). We have had Death’s Door in Madison and are excited to tamper with it at home since we usually opt for some other local offerings while searching for gin. In all, this trip was a win. We set out because Dancing Goat often does some sort of buy one-get one and we ended up with such a good haul.


I would highly recommend a trip here from Madison, Whitewater, Burlington, even Milwaukee. It’s always clean, the cocktails are good, the people are friendly, and Cambridge and the surrounding towns have plenty of hidden dives to find some good food after a libation-filled afternoon.


Until next time, keep on Crusin’, don’t stop boozin’.


To learn more about Dancing Goat Distillery please visit their website at: www.dancinggoat.com or on Facebook: @DancingGoatDistillery or on Instagram: @DancingGoatDistillery

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