Virginia City debuts new Cemetery Gin

In honor of the 151st Nevada Day and Halloween, Virginia City is debuting a new kind of spirit.

The infamous Virginia City Cemetery Gin is no longer a tale, and the historic city is now distilling its own line of gin.

“We want this to be a novelty and a quality gin,” said Deny Dotson, director of Tourism for Virginia City. “So when we were making the gin we thought, ‘what would be cool for Virginia City?’”

The history of the Virginia City Cemetery Gin dates back to the 1800s, before the only safe water Nevadans had came from Lake Marlette. Back then, because the minerals in the soil weren’t good for consumption, Nevadans had to mix the water with two parts gin to make it safe. At that time, Virginia City residents were seeing at least one funeral a day from miners’ deaths, so the undertakers union decided to endorse the cemetery gin.

For years, the Virginia City Visitors Bureau has been selling Cemetery Gin memorabilia, however because of Nevada laws, it couldn’t actually distill a gin.

“We have been selling T-shirts as a spoof and everyone kept asking us where the gin was,” Dotson said. “When Nevada legislation changed the distillery laws, we wanted to do this project.”

The spirit is supposed to be an homage to Nevada, with all the ingredients grown locally and even the bottle is shaped to replicate what someone would find in the mountains from what the miners used. The gin is even distilled at Frey Ranch in Fallon. Many who tried the gin said the flavor tasted “like it was made of fresh air.” Dotson said the flavors come from the Nevada pine nut, so it should taste like the great Northern Nevada air.

“You couldn’t get more Nevada than that,” Dotson said.

The bottle features an 1854 Cunningham Hearse, which can only be seen when the bottle is held against a light source. This hearse is representative of the history and the undertakers union that inspired the spirit.

The gin will be officially launched Saturday at the Nevada Day Parade. An actual hearse will appear at the Nevada Day Parade to promote the gin, and representatives will be handing out free sample coupons.

“Virginia City helped put Nevada on the map for statehood and so we thought launching with Nevada Day was appropriate,” Dotson said. “It is just perfect because it is a Nevada product.”

The bottles will run for $40, but people can reserve them online for $42 which can be picked up at the Visitors Center. So far, the gin is only going to be sold at Virginia City saloons for individual purchase and bottle purchase, though the marketers are working on getting them into liquor stores in Carson and Reno.

To reserve your bottle, visit


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