Well, it was a lively tasting around the table the other evening for Gins in June. Thanks to everyone who came out for it. If you missed it, well, next time. Meanwhile, here are the tasting notes of the gins everyone tried. Thanks again to Sommelier, Ken Bracke for leading the evening and preparing all his research!
- Greenall’s London Dry Gin, England 40% abv. $29.99
Founded in 1761 by Thomas Dakin, the forefather of English gin and Greenall’s original master distiller, this gin has been at the forefront of British gin for gin lovers through the centuries. An interesting historical note: 1761 was the first year that gin making was legal in England; not coincidentally, that’s the year Greenall’s incorporated. Greenall’s continues to be crafted in Warrington using only the finest botanicals from around the World including wild Tuscan juniper, delicate Moroccan coriander, and zesty Spanish lemons. The Greenall’s recipe remains a closely guarded secret, known only to the 7 master distillers who have crafted the gin for generations. Distiller’s Notes: balanced between sweet and bitter, with notes of juniper, coriander seeds, angelica and lemon among other botanicals.
- Victoria Gin, Victoria B.C. 40% abv. $57.99
Launched in 2008, family-owned Victoria Spirits claims to have produced Canada’s first premium gin, and over the last decade, they have developed a cult following. The gin is produced in a small batch process from a neutral grain spirit which has been enhanced with ten natural and wild-gathered botanicals. These botanicals include, juniper berry, coriander seed, angelica, orris root, lemon and orange peel, star anise, cinnamon bark, rose petals and a secret ingredient which the company encourages you to guess. Distiller’s Notes: Balances the characteristic evergreen flavour of juniper with notes of citrus, floral and spice. An intensely flavoured spirit that is as full-bodied and as complex as a fine single-malt whisky.
- Bulldog London Dry Gin England 40% abv. $35.99
Bulldog was founded by former investment banker, Anshuman Vohra, who developed his passion for gin at an early age while enjoying gin and tonics with his father, a career diplomat. Inspired by his travels around the globe, Mr. Vohra (with help from Bulldog’s Master Distiller) sourced an exotic blend of 12 botanicals from eight countries that would create a smooth, harmonious flavour unique to Bulldog that he felt was lacking in existing gins. Bulldog’s mission: to service the growing demand of discerning customers fatigued by traditionally popular spirits like vodka, as well as revolutionize and expand the gin category. Tasting Notes: scent fresh, almost floral. Palate mellow, very drinkable. Juniper forefront but not overwhelming, hints of poppy and warm spice. Balanced.
- Gin Mare Meditteranean Gin Coleccion De Autor Spain 42.7% abv. $47.99
Gin Mare is produced in a small fishing village on the Costa Dorada in Spain using botanicals all sourced within the Mediterranean area. Alongside ‘traditional’ botanicals: juniper, bitter orange peel, seville orange peel, lemon peel, cardamon, and coriander seed, there are four that are not quite so common; Arbequina olives, basil, rosemary and thyme. The name ‘Gin Mare’ comes from the concept of Mare Nostra (our sea). Tasting Notes: Nose: Herbal, hints of soapiness and perfume. Palate: aromatic, confirms perfume, coriander, juniper, citrus zest. Spicy finish.
- Bloom Premium London Dry Gin, England 40% abv. $44.99
The evocative floral perfumes of an English country garden and natural wildflower meadows in midsummer were the inspiration that led to creating this unique London Dry Gin. Its delicacy matches its effortless style. It is a light, floral with a unique, slightly sweet taste created by, along with some ‘standard’ ingredients including angelica, juniper and cubebe berries, a blend of 3 botanicals: honeysuckle, chamomile and pomelo. Tasting Notes: Nose: light and fresh but still juniper led. Palate: floral with honeysuckle and chamomile notes
- Bruichladdich The Botanist 22 Islay Dry Gin Scotland 46% abv. $56.99
For this, “The Botanist”, artisanal Islay gin, Bruichladdich uses nine of the classic gin aromatics including orris root, cassia bark, and coriander seed, then augments these with a heady harvest of 22 local botanicals, hand-picked by an expert foraging team from the windswept hills, peat bogs and Atlantic shores of Islay. It could be called a ‘vintage’ gin because the flavors in the gin have the potential to change subtly year to year, depending on the availability and quality of the local plants. Tasting Notes: clean aroma, light on juniper with some citrus and cinnamon notes in the forefront. Sweet and fresh tasting: evergreen, basil tones, citrus, cinnamon, and mint tones rounding things out.
- Opihr Oriental Spiced London Dry Gin England 42.5% abv. $46.99
Opihr is a legendary region famed for its wealth and riches which prospered during the reign of King Solomon. The King regularly received cargoes of gold, silver and spices from Opihr and while its exact location remains a mystery, it is thought to have been in the Orient along the ancient Spice Route.
The heritage of Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin is firmly rooted in this ancient Spice Route, crafted with a selection of exotic hand-picked botanicals, carefully chosen by Opihr’s Master Distiller, including spicy Cubeb berries from Indonesia, Black Pepper from India and Coriander from Morocco. Distiller’s Notes: Nose: smooth perfume and sharp bursts of citrus; notes of cumin and cardamom provide a warm earthy background balanced with grapefruit peel. Taste: Soft camphor, some sweetness and oriental spices create a warm mouth feel that lingers but does not increase in intensity. Finish: Long length with soft cracked black pepper and spice.
- Star Of Bombay Slow Distilled London Dry Gin England 47.5% abv. $52.99
Star of Bombay was created to add something new to the Bombay range, but to do so by amplifying the core character of Sapphire. To start with, a pair of new botanicals was added to the regular 10: dried bergamot orange peel to enhance the citrus notes from the lemon peel already in the recipe and musky ambrette seeds to complement the spices in the mix. Nick Fordham, master distiller, also tweeked the production process, slowing down the distillation to give the alcohol vapours more time to interact with the botanicals and extract more flavour. Tasting Notes: Nose: sweet to start, with bitter citrus backed up by sappy juniper and spice. Palate: Full, with black pepper and bitter peel, sweet orange and lemon, notes of spice. Finish: Soft and spicy, citrus tones.
- Sloane’s Individually Distilled Premium Dry Gin Netherlands 40% abv. $44.99
Sir Hans Sloane (1660 – 1753) was a Royal Physician, botanist, collector, and lifelong benefactor and landlord of the Physic Garden Chelsea – one of the UK’s foremost institutions experimenting in the use of plants and plant extracts for medicinal purposes, the first uses for juniper distillates – the forerunner of modern gin. This is why the master distiller of Toorank distillery thought it fitting to call his gin ‘Sloane’s’ in honour of Sir Hans Sloane’s significant contribution to botany. The main difference between Sloane’s Gin and other gins is that it is hand crafted in small batches using a unique process that involves using fresh citrus fruits and individually distilling the botanicals. Tasting Notes: Nose: light, layered, with juniper, vanilla, liquorice, coriander, and citrus. Palate: soft, smooth, licorice, juniper, vanilla, and earthy notes.
- Dillon’s Small Batch Distilers Cherry Gin Liqueur Ontario 39% abv. $29.99
The Dillon family chose the location of their distillery for its proximity to incredible ingredients and wonderful people. They are neighbours to farmers who grow great fruit and botanicals locally, “our backyard”, making them readily available as the products are needed. The Cherry Gin Liqueur is a traditional dry gin infused with cherries and botanicals and then lightly sweetened. It would be suitable as an aperitif or as an ingredient in cocktails. Tasting Notes: Nose: brown sugar, molasses, stewed cherry, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg notes. Palate: complex, tart cherry, cardamom, ginger, earthy notes. Finish: slightly acidic, tart fruit, heat mid-palate.
List Of Sources
Aaron, Bloom Gin: Gin Review, The Gin Is In January 14, 2013
Aaron, Dillon’s Cherry Gin, June 24, 2015, The Gin Is In
Aaron, Greenall’s Gin: Gin Review, January 16, 2012, The Gin Is In
Billy, Star of Bombay Gin – Sapphire and Steel, June, 2015 The Whisky Exchange
Blue, Anthony Dias, The Complete Book Of Spirits: A Guide To Their History, Production, And Enjoyment, William Morrow, Harper Collins, New York, 2004
Devlin, Mike, Victoria Distillers Has New Home On Sidney’s Waterfront, Times Colonist, January 23, 2016
Falkowitz, Max, Senior Features Editor Serious Eats, Happy Hour: Gin Mare, a Gin Worth Drinking Straight, Jan 23, 2015, Serious Eats
Gin Time, Bombay Sapphire Launches Star of Bombay, April 17, 2015
Leppä, Thomas, Mediterranean Gin & Tonic, Taste Of Sundays, July 18, 2015
Null, Christopher, Review: The Botanist Islay Dry Gin, January 12, 2012, The Drink Hacker
The Cocktail Geek, Review: Greenalls London Dry Gin
Singh, Chris, On the Shelf: Bombay Sapphire “Star of Bombay” London Dry Gin, The AU Review, January 9, 2016
The Cocktail Geek, Review – Bloom London Dry Gin
The Cocktail Geek, Review: Gin Mare
The Cocktail Geek, Review: Sloane’s Gin
Willis, Jesse, 5 Canadian Craft Gins to Add to Your Liquor Cabinet: Stellar Gins From the Great White North, October 2, 2013, Eat North