Tara Jasper, Founder and Free Spirit
Tara has always been fascinated by flavors. Culinary Arts were a part of her family heritage and childhood growing up in the coastal redwoods of Northern California. After meeting her husband Dane, he showed her by example how great life can be when you follow your passion. So the answer was easy when he asked her if she could do anything, what would she do? Culinary school, of course.
Tara was completely enthralled with culinary school at the SRJC and the connection between flavors, herbs, spices and health. Down the road a bit, after years more exploration or as Tara calls it, “Geeking out” on nutrition, tea infusion, coffee extraction, shrub making… To Tara, geeking out meant seeking perfection. While at home raising three small children she began to experiment with fruit at the peak of their season from the best local farms using them to infuse store bought spirits to make liqueurs. This was how she began reading about liqueur making and her curiosity was piqued when she began studying distilling. Some of the world's best liqueurs being made today are from Eau Du Vie made from the fruits they are then infused with… again back to the “Geeking out”. At some point a friend encouraged her to learn to distill. She fell in love with the entire process and it turns out she has a natural talent for it.
How did we get into Gin? In the beginning, Sipsong started with Tara making liqueurs at home for friends and family. The results of these projects and their reactions fueled her fire. While reading a book about long lost liqueurs and gin Tara became inspired to begin crafting her own Gin. The book she read said Gin had originally been made with a Grape base in Holland for medicinal purposes (now she’s later learned that the first Gins origins are up for debate) Allow Wikipedia to explain here. But in reading about grape based Gin Tara started to dream and then tinker. After many months of daily distillation of every botanical she could think of working towards the finest quality extraction in a base of grape spirit she then traveled to Europe in search of some of the world’s best gins. When she returned to California she decided she was ready to blend her own. Completely in her element she literally skipped to work during this portion of the recipe development.
One hot summer day Tara was gathering with some friends. One of them happened to be the famed mixologist and author Scott Beattie, Artisanal Cocktails. Scott wanted to try what she had been making. To say Tara felt intimidated is an understatement here, but she didn’t let fear stop her. She served him her favorite blend thus far. His reaction brought her to tears, he loved it. It was unlike any other Gin he had tried, which had been her goal. To make something unexpected, and just perfect for a G & T. Coming from him this gave her the confidence to bring this first Gin to the market and to work on crafting more. He kept coming back to taste this first Gin again and again and this was how the first release of Sipsong was born.