by Comrade Hunter
After having our shelves loaded to buckling with new gins swarming the market, it was about time that we had another Gin class. The consumer has spoken and they are thirsty for white, juniper infused spirit; a demand distillers are happy to satisfy. The newest offerings available on the market are seemingly more impressive, each round of gins trumping the last. In my previous posts regarding the state of gin I forwarded a concern that the fidelity of the consumer to one specific gin may be short lived (lest it be from those old standard bearers of the gin industry) and that the gin market may be reaching its zenith. But perhaps what I failed to note was that if the market continues to spawn new and exciting spirits, distillers will be forced to reach for higher levels of quality and diversity. This forced evolution of a saturated market may see to the true reckoning of a gin “golden age.” All that one must hope for is that said distillers are willing to change, redirect course, and above all, take risks with the distilling medium they have at hand. My hope for the future of gin would be to see those bottles I first showcased years ago resurface as new, reborn expressions. If white spirit is to act as surrogate untouched canvas to the artist-distiller, the state of the industry will reduce down to these artists’ visions and their ability to enact them. But does Gin need such pomp? I’m sure my gin compatriots in attendance of the class Gin is In can attest to the contrary.
Here is what we tried that evening for Gin is In.
The most vibrant and lively spirit of the evening; Jawbox delivers something both enjoyably nouveau while holding true to classic gin stylizations. What does this mean? Well, I don’t know, maybe that its dry, juniper-heavy nose is cut with a helping of off-dry white and tropical fruits. The floral character of this spirit is dashed by these vibrant and delicately sweet tones lending to a unique interpretation of London Dry Gin. One of my favourites for the evening. $58
A burlier version of the Jawbox, offering a richer spirit profile with more oily tones. The density of the palate creates a slightly more unctuous spirit, something likely the result of either the grain bill of the gin and/or the distillation method. I was similarly impressed by this spirit, the oily character of the palate showcasing some of the fatter, richer tones of the botanicals used to make this gin. $64
Drumshanbo Gunpowder Tea Infused
Another favourite of the night, a recurrent theme throughout the night. I was pleasantly surprised to find each of these gins to be of notable quality, something I can’t say has been the case for past gin tastings. This bottling is the result of infusing gunpowder tea to the spirit, adding layers of savoury herbaceous tones without being entirely savoury. This infusion works wonderfully well working out to a gin with notes of cigar, assam (I haven’t tried gunpowder, but the nose of this gin reminds me of assam tea), hibiscus, lilac, and a touch of parma violet. The tasters were quite happy with this spirit, alongside myself and my colleagues. – $62
Thompson Bros. Organic
The curveball of the lineup, Thompson Bros.’ gin is full of strange characters ranging from fire pit roasted agave to damp tobacco and mint. This may be the result of their Scottish distillation roots wherein the use of malted barley in the mashbill in conjunction with their pot distillation. The earthen, more savoury characters that develop as a result of these factors are quite enjoyable and offer a unique take on the spirit. Of course, these characteristics are amid the robust yet drier than typical juniper character. Loose sencha tea leaf, fresh cut grass after the rain, and a wafting of steeping grains before fermentation. $66
From our favourite cognac producer, the Osmoz gin is the creation of Chateau Montifaud. Their age old distillation techniques passed down through the family over the last five generations leads to a mastery over the distiller’s art, or at least that is what one might say upon trying this gin. The Osmoz Classic is vibrant, full bodied, likely the result of its base spirit being crafted from grape distillate, a silky robustness woven throughout the gin providing a cushioned feel to the spirit. Expect fleshy white fruits on the palate, lilac, slight diesel tones on the nose, and an accosting experience in The Bay’s perfume section. Another impressive and favoured gin of the night. $55
Like its sibling, this spirit is crafted with grape distillate keeping true to its more oily spirit. The critical difference is that of this spirits focus on citrus, highlighting lime cordial, grapefruit pith, meyer lemon, alongside zesty, tangy orange peel tones. This release is the real gamut of citrus tones while exhibiting similar tones of its classically stylized sister albeit more delicate. Both ranked similarly for the tasters and would hold as my favourite of the two Montifaud gins. $55
From a new distillery in Calgary, Alberta, this gin was one of the most richly built spirits. Near honeyed, this spirit offered waxy, richer tones than the ones previously showcased. The opulence of this spirit I believe would lead to a more “straight-up” style of gin, intended to be consumed chilled and by itself. Expect springtime gardens, nectary sweet with a bit of apricot and pear preserves. $55
Zuidam Jonge Genever
Clocking in as the largest bottle of the night, this one-litre behemoth of traditional Netherland distillation filled the role of the usual anchor: an old tom gin. I figured that given the sweetness of this jonge genever one could replace their usual old tom and try something new. The tasters and I reached the conclusion that this is a gin done quick kind of spirit, holding true to some of the gin tropes such as juniper driven, floral, refreshing, etc. whilst having a potent richness lending to a spirit that doesn’t need any tonic to round it out. Throw it in the freezer, keep it nice and chilled, and when you are ready for a refreshment simply pour a glass and enjoy. I prefer such styles myself, for summertime is the time of languid drinking, sitting under the sun and exerting oneself as little as possible. $58