The wonderful and ever growing world of gin strikes again, and this time with more craft. The momentum of craft distillation is growing, more distilleries are cropping up and even more are creating gin. A logical step for any new distiller, but I wonder if it is a means to an end for most. Even if the gin is the end itself, will the market continue to bear so many new gins?
One must consider that even the gin enthusiasts scope is generally limited to single bottle adventures with an eventuality of settling down on a favourite, perhaps a reasonable analogy of youth to maturity. As the market matures, along with the gin appreciators, one might speculate on the ranks of producers thinning out, a distilling Darwinism that will culminate in the strongest of the producers surviving.
Such simple observations mean little at the moment, but what this does entail is a large proportion of distillers flooding the market with all sorts of botanical spirits, usually locally harvested, sometimes organic, grain sourced from only the most choice of farmers. Catch phrases of these sorts are becoming tired, it now requires a little more razzle dazzle to captivate the thirsty audience. I poured a sampling of subjectively interesting spirits for the class, all of which seem to hold some modicum of intrigue that goes beyond what is held in high regard or status quo. Keeping in mind, all gin still holds a distinctive quality of juniper, but this each bottle in this selection breaks out of the boundary line – even if just a little.
Here is what we tasted:
Soft and round, the elegance Hven is definitely the forefront feature. This is an obvious symptom of being a wheat based spirit, which translates beautifully to the palate. The mad scientist behind the magic of this distillery does things differently with his gin, maturing the spirit for a while in American oak, then distilling it once again after it has rested in the barrel. This process adds a richness to the mouthfeel and makes for a sultry gin. Peppery, lemon and lime zest, along with refreshing wafts of juniper are all found in experiencing this gin. $69.99
A grain bomb from Nanaimo with no desserts in sight. Huge grist and barley dust tones, this thing smells like sticking your head in the malt bin. Meyer lemons, limestone rocks from the riverside and tones of coriander plus slight hints of summer blooming greenery. I loved this stuff, quite impressed by the overall tone achieved, even with the grain heavy characters looming in the background. $54.99
A revisiting of the blueberry infused, oddly sweet, London dry. When I first tasted this I thought I could pinpoint the exact botanical being used, specifically Kalamata olives, but was thoroughly shocked when I found out it was blueberries. Now, this may sound strange, but I am convinced that there is some strange miswiring in the brain that makes the mind draw olives as a conclusion, a conclusion which quickly evaporates into a clear understanding of blueberries. Now that you know, you won’t be able to go back. As mentioned, the blueberries dominate the nose and palate, adding a berry fruit salad nature to this bottling. Delicious, this bottle just needs the freezer. $54.99
Another gin with a wheat grain spirit base, Cotswolds Dry speaks clarity and finesse wrapped in a neat package of succulent fruitiness and zesty citrus. The Cotswolds makes me think of melons and peach, hinting at passion fruit and a touch of exotic spices. I can’t name them, but there is something in here that is distinctly not from the northern hemisphere. This spirit is too easy and works in everything. If Hendricks was the easy mode for gin and tonics Cotswolds is…whatever is easier than easy mode? I didn’t even need to measure properly for my G&T, it came out like liquid euphoria. Add a few of your favourite slices and you just might find Nirvana – no meditation required. $74.99
I feel the distillers at Beefeater finally got fed up with their standard gin. Can you imagine having access to all these delightful botanicals, bleeding edge distilling know-how, and a general love of gin, and still only making Beefeater standard? It would appear that their weeping souls finally got through to the high ups, giving the all clear for an expression of their hearts, while maintaining the wonderful price point of standard Beefeater. The execution of this is remarkable, and the quality has led to this bottle holding one of the two gin slots in my bar collection. $32.99
Biased review incoming: I love Old Tom styles. The slightly sweeter character of this style is what gives it a little up in my books, adding an immediate and straight drinkability to the spirit. This variant follows suit with the others I have experienced, albeit with a somewhat chewier base spirit. Off yellow in colour, this spirit is not only tantalizing in taste, it is as well in appearance. I would generally recommend this one to brown spirit enthusiasts looking to add an interesting “white” spirit to their collection. $60.99
The odd beast of the bunch; where the rest have a collective spirit of a goose or a cat, this one be dragons. Right off the nose, you can imagine yourself in a coniferous forest, sawing lumber and chewing thrills gum. “Take that sissy gum out of your mouth and chew on this”, says your lumberjack friend, handing you a palmful of spruce tips. “Why not?” as you induce the needle bunches, thinking all the while, “How did I get here?”. You are now transported back to your seat, having finished your glass of Noteworthy, and are left staring at a computer screen, wondering at what you just read. $47.99
Cut, this movie is bad.