Underground Herbal Spirit from Ogden, Utah Review

Underground Herbal Spirit
Underground Herbal Spirit

Utah is probably the last place in the US you’d expect a distilled spirit from. While it’s certainly not the driest state in the union (that title is held by Pennsylvania), it does have a reputation for very tight control of alcohol. There once was a time that you needed to buy a membership to be able to drink at a bar in Utah.

Those times have changed and Utah has loosened its noose on spirits. One of the great things to come from that is Underground Herbal Spirit. Made by Ogden’s Own Distillery in Ogden, Utah, Underground is a delicious herbal spirit that is a great example of how fantastic things can come from unexpected places.

Underground is an herbal liqueur but it’s not nearly as sweet or syrupy as Jaegermeister or Zwack. To be an herbal liqueur you need to have at least 2% added sugar in your spirit, Underground just crosses that threshold. Bottled at 80 proof, Underground is stronger than Jaegermeister (which is 70 proof) but not nearly as strong as an absinthe (which is typically north of 120 proof).

Underground is designed as both a “Digestif” or digestive (something to be taken after a meal to help your food digest) and a restorative (something to drink after being out in the cold and rain), but of course it can just be enjoyed as a delicious spirit.

Underground Herbal Spirit (80 proof – $28) – While we don’t generally note the bottle or packaging on spirits, the Underground bottle is noteworthy as it looks like an old medicine bottle with nice, high-quality silicon stopper. The bottle is brown glass which is important when dealing with an herbal spirit, because light does impact the herbs’ potency.

The spirit itself is a nice light brown (although it clearly states on the bottle that caramel color has been added). The nose is a nice herbal bouquet with anise being the top note and orange, root beer, fennel and tarragon underneath. It’s nice that the anise doesn’t overpower the nose and the result is some nice complexity that’s very inviting. The entry is syrupy, soft and sweet, but not overpowering or overly sweet. The spirit opens on the palate unfolding a wide spectrum of herbal flavors including root beer, tarragon, fennel, orange and lemon, and very subtle anise. The sweet entry switches to savory in the mid palate, then slightly bitter on the finish (bitter in a good way, like Angostura Bitters). The finish is extremely long with just a little spice and it leaves your mouth full of herbal goodness. End to end it’s an extremely well crafted product, well balanced, and masterfully distilled.

Underground Herbal Spirit is an extraordinarily unexpected discovery that delivers its herbal notes in an exceptionally balanced way. Much less sweet and a much more complex offering than most herbal spirits out there, Underground is an absolute delight. Very Highly Recommended

  • steve

    You can learn more about Underground in this clip from Drinking Made Easy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9l7GGd8FNs&feature=player_embedded

  • Beau

    This is a good spirit; however, I do not like the fact that they add caramel color to the mix. This seems a bit counterintuitive considering herbal spirits rely primarily on, well you guessed it, natural herbs. Why add something artificial like caramel color and then admit to it on the label? Just seems a bit tacky to me when the herbs themselves should provide more than enough color on their own without needing something like caramel color.

    • Beau, caramel color is very very very common in the spirits industry. It’s added to a lot of whisk(e)y, cognac and many things in-between. In this case I think there’s an expectation that an herbal look like the other leading herbals on the market like Jager or Fernet. As long as it doesn’t impact flavor (which it doesn’t), I don’t think it’s a major issue.

  • David Compton

    Artificial colors come in all stripes; from completely synthetic dyes, for example FD&C Red 40, a.k.a. 2-naphthalenesulfonic acid, to purely natural colorants like elderberry juice. Caramel color is typically a pretty innocuous one, derived from heating one of the sugars. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caramel_color) While it will add some of its own flavor, caramel flavor is usually a positive addition to whatever it is put into – think Coke. I don’t know why the Underground folks wouldn’t just list it as an ingredient. It sure beats adding napthalenesulfonic acid…

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