Spruce up spring cocktails with an award-winning gin crafted in Taylor.

By Betsy Cribb
March 18, 2021
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The state is known for literary heavyweights, fried catfish, and the blues, but the three cofounders behind Wonderbird Spirits are now working to put Mississippi on the map for something else: gin.

"One of the things that was very important to us in our shared vision was making something that came from this place," says Thomas Alexander.

Theirs is a field-to-bottle operation, with a base alcohol handmade from Delta-grown rice and infused with 10 microdistilled botanicals (two of which are grown on their property). "Early on, we experimented with a lot of agricultural products for our base, all from Mississippi," says Alexander. "Corn, sweet potatoes. Ultimately, we landed on rice after coming into a relationship with a family farm in Sumner, Mississippi, which is about an hour away from us."

Wonderbird Spirits Bottles of Gin
Credit: Joe York

The Wonderbird Spirits team knows of only two other gins in the world that are made this way, and they are Japanese. That they're doing this in the South is what makes it uniquely special, they say. "You can smell and taste it straight from the Mississippi ground," says Rob Forster. "That's something we're very proud of."

They're also proud of two gold medal wins at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition—one for the gin and another for the packaging design.

Wonderbird Spirits gin cocktail
Credit: Joe York

"It's like the Oscars in our world," says Chand Harlow. "When we're in big cities, there's a surprise factor of, 'Wow! This came from the middle of nowhere, Mississippi.' That was part of our goal."

But just as important for the cofounders as the international recognition is the gin's homegrown reception.

"'Enjoy it slow and often' [is our motto]—that sit-around-with-friends-and -tell-a-tale-or-catch-up kind of thing," says Forster. "We want people, when they've got visitors from out of town, to say, 'You should really taste this new gin from rice made in the Delta.' We want our gin, when people come to Ole Miss or go to a football game, to become part of the cultural experience of coming to a place like Oxford."

Visit the distillery in Taylor, Mississippi, for a tour and tasting, or have the Taylor-made spirit shipped to your door by ordering online (BUY IT: Gin No 61, $49 for 750 mL bottle; wonderbirdspirits.com)