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Gray Whale Riding The Gin Boom While Protecting The Oceans

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Animals inspire humans in many creative ways. Whether in art, motion pictures, or dressing up like a tiger for Halloween, we’ve been touched by their majesty. What about creating alcohol inspired by whale migratory patterns? Well, it already exists — Gray Whale Gin!

Gray Whale Gin began as a passion project of husband and wife duo Marsh and Jan Mokhtari. The California boutique spirit uses local ingredients found directly along the Pacific Coast Highway. Incidentally, this is the same migratory pattern gray whales follow during winter and summer. The Mokhtaris make a point to explain this; looking at the bottle logo, you can trace the gray whales’ path and the origins of the ingredients

“We noticed that Europe and the rest of the world were going through a ‘gin renaissance,’ so to speak, and we had a hunch that the U.S. would catch on pretty quickly. We decided to honor the majestic California Gray Whale by making a gin that celebrated the longest known migration of any creature on earth,” the couple explained

They’ve been crafting Gray Whale since 2016, forming the Golden State Distillery to create their gin. The name came from a camping trip when one of their daughters pointed out a whale traveling up the coast near Big Sur.

Since then, the idea has blossomed into an acclaimed business. 

Photo Courtesy Gray Whale Gin

Regarding sustainability, Gray Whale is very eco-conscious in sourcing ingredients and bottling the gin. All the botanicals come from local farms or are wildly foraged in California. Examples include limes from Temecula, mint from Santa Cruz, fir tree clippings from Sonoma, and the most unique of them all, sea kelp from Mendocino County. The company infuses the kelp in the gin to add an “earthy umami flavor” that hints at the salt-air taste from the Pacific breeze. 

“You can truly taste your way along the pacific coastline with every sip of this gin,” the Mokhtaris said. Each cork for bottles is all-natural and biodegradable. When bottles are emptied, they’re upcycled and turned into scented candles available on the Gray Whale website. However, their environmental advocacy doesn’t end here. 

Gray Whale’s major environmental outreach initiatives are its donations toward whale conservation.

Partnering with Oceana and 1% for the Planet, 1% of all Gray Whale sale proceeds are donated to environmental causes, particularly those around oceans and marine life survival. 

The brand has grown, expanding from being sold only in California to 17 states — but it shouldn’t be a surprise. A partnership with Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits in 2019 and the couple’s background had a hand in it. Marsh has served as a host on Food Network and National Geographic, while Jan has worked as a brand creative director. If anyone could understand how to build a sustainable gin with a mission like ocean conservation, it’s them.

Photo Courtesy Gray Whale Gin

Many local news outlets have brought the Mokhtaris on their talk shows to discuss the brand’s success. The couple went on KTLA Fox 5, the local Fox news station in Los Angeles, CA, to talk about how they hope the proceeds from bottle purchases will significantly impact the quality of marine life. KOIN CBS 6 in Portland, OR had them on to make Gray Whale martinis for National Martini Day. They’ve also been included in other Consensus articles as part of a cocktail recipe series. Check the Gray Whale website’s store locator to see if it’s sold near you. 


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