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Dog and Shrub Distillery

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

Lake Mills, WI

 
 
Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Travel Alcohol Blogger- Dog and Shrub Distilling- Exterior of Building

Dog and Shrub Distillery is a cute little distillery located in Lake Mills, WI. The distillery opened in June of 2020 and is doing well despite the pandemic. This is a trend we’ve seen throughout Wisconsin this past year. Regardless of what is going on in the world, Wisconsinites will still drink.


While we didn’t get to meet the owners (tours are offered but they are far between from what we could tell, perhaps only on weekends?), we did get to meet two friendly and knowledgeable staff. They informed us that the owners are both chemists with a shared love of dogs. You can read more about the owners here.


The name of the distillery itself is a clever little play on words. “Dog” is slang for whiskey before it has been matured in barrels or, rather, raw distillate. Not to be confused with Moonshine, which can be made from anything, “dog”/”white dog”/ “white whiskey” does still need to contain certain percentages of corn, is taxed, and is legal. It’s an interesting pick since, to those of us who know whiskey, usually the older the better. Recently though a trend has emerged wherein white whiskey is finding its way to bars and becoming trendy. I found it even more interesting that at a distillery named after it, you could not purchase bottles of white whiskey from Dog & Shrub.


The second part of their name, “Shrub” is a type of cocktail which shares the name of its unique base, a “drinking vinegar”. Drinking vinegar or shrub is usually a combination of vinegar, fruit, sugar, water and other botanicals to make an acidic and often complex syrup and then mixed with a spirit. Some quick research show that shrubs were popular in colonial America as the shrubs themselves were used to preserve fruits and often mixed with water to create a refreshingly tart beverage. They have recently begun to make a comeback as the bases for cocktails.




The distillery does not offer flights of spirits but it was quite enough that I was able to take some small tasters to a table in order to take notes. The distillery sells their spirits by the bottle, otherwise you’re required to enjoy them within one of their cocktails.



Scientific beaker used to give samples of alcohol
Sample of Dog and Shrub's Alcohol (How Cute!)

D&S Wisconsin Gin (ABV 40.0%): This gin has a strong citrus bouquet with hints of coriander and pine. Taste was high botanical with sage, star anise, and orange peel. This one is definitely going to be classified as an American Gin as opposed to London Dry. Overall a serviceable Gin for your home bar. Our suggestion would be to stick to lighter cocktails such as a Gimlet, maybe a Collins when using it at home.


D&S Coffee Vodka (ABV 30.0%): Putting your nose up to this liqueur will greet you with hazelnuts, maple syrup and toasted cacao. The taste is a sweetened, medium roast coffee. I would have liked the viscosity to be higher here as topping it with cream I don’t think would give you that satisfying roll of cream refusing to mix with the liqueur. Outside of that, I think this is a strong offering for some unique cocktail creations at home.


D&S Wheat Vodka (ABV 40.0%): This vodka greets your nose with corn shavings, barn hay, and vanilla. There are notes of cornbread, sugar, and a richness of batter on the tongue. It was odd that this billed wheat vodka came out tasting so sweet instead of something that should be crisp and smooth.


D&S Rescue Rye Whiskey (ABV 44.5%): With the color of a nice lager, a nose filled with toasted caramel. Oak, and vanilla I had some high hopes for this. This whiskey had a lot more bite than I wanted up front and tasted of sugar maple and burnt caramel rather than toasted. I think there may be a few kinks to work out. It should be noted that this is not made on site, thus the “Rescue Rye” name. A bummer since you know how big of fans we are of everything on site and local.



We reviewed three cocktails off the menu to see how these spirits were put into practice.


Gin Gimlet: I picked this cocktail because I wanted something simple that would let the Gin shine through. Unfortunately, the lime used must have been a little old which really overpowered the entire drink. I’d also have liked to see simple syrup used instead of what must have been a sugar cube. No one likes a gritty cocktail. I think if those things were changed this classic drink could really help this gin shine and would be a classic, solid offering on their menu.


Bulldog: This drink contains coffee vodka, half & half, Vodka, and Coke. A riff on a classic White Russian I was so intrigued by the addition of coke to something that was already caffeinated that I just had to try it. I don’t really think the coke worked as when you drink a white russian you expect something silky and smooth rather than carbonated. It didn’t really taste bad, but rather messed up the mouthfeel. I absolutely credit them for trying something unique even if it didn’t hit the mark. I’d encourage you to go there and try it, maybe you will like the unique riff on a classic.


Berry Lemon Drop: Lemon Juice, Berry Simple Syrup and Vokda. This one was a winner for us. The sweetness of the vodka complimented the simple syrup and the lemon juice was fresh and tart. Topped with a little sparkling water this was a successful riff of a vodka collins and an excellent cool down on a summer day.



Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Travel Alcohol Blogger- Dog and Shrub Distillery- Cocktail with table decorations
Berry Lemon Drop Cocktail

The space was clean and intimate, brand new and everything was dog-themed. During our time there we enjoyed a cocktail inside and a second in their outdoor space which overlooked some greenery. You do forget that you're in an industrial park and it was overall quiet and peaceful. There were large groups of cyclists that stopped by during our time there which really gave the space a friendly neighborhood vibe without being townie.


This place is young and there will be things learned as they grow. Overall this was a strong first stop and we will definitely be returning.


Until next time, keep on crusin’, don’t stop boozin’!


To learn more about Dog and Shrub Distillery, please visit their website at: www.dogandshrubdistillery.com or on Facebook: @dogandshrubdistillery


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