We are definitely in the middle of a Gin renaissance or Gin Craze, if you will. With distilleries popping up left and right, and the difficulties of laying down barreled spirit for years and years, gin is both a stream of revenue and an outlet for sensational creativity. You can extract nearly any flavour you can think of from many herbs, spices, nuts, berries and, really, nearly anything you can think of, and this, combined with the use of varied grains and distilling practices means that ethanol is more or less a blank canvas on which an artist can paint and layer swaths of sensations and create their vision rather than see what evolves out of wood and time.
For this little adventure through Gin land, we were lucky enough to have Last Best’s own Master Distiller Bryce Parsons to help guide us through some of the nuances of the practice, along with some first-hand knowledge of 3 of our 6 gins for the evening. We are equally if not more lucky to have our neighbour’s Peasant Cheese to provide food to gorge on while tasting! We started off with a simple cocktail I’ll describe later on, and dove right in!
Last Best Gin Craze #39 Loral
This is one of three gins made with a single varietal of freeze dried lupulin powder from hops (aka, Cryo Hops). Fruity, herbal notes are pungent and saturating with a fresh green note underneath it all and a generous citrus tone. The lightly sweet spirit gives it a homemade candy-like feel to it. Great for both tonics and cocktails. $55
Last Best Gin Craze #43 Mulan Szechuan
This unique gin was made with szechuan peppercorns and marcona almonds. The nuts add a gentle sweet and almost savoury note that compliments the zingy, ethereal pepper notes and helps to stimulate senses that have been long forgotten. $55
Confluence Manchester Dry Gin
Confluence is a fairly new distillery in Calgary. Their flagship gin is named after the neighborhood they call home. heir Gin is Red Wheat grain based and New Western Dry in style. It is created using six botanicals: juniper, coriander, wild rose petals, lemon peel, cucumber, and saskatoon berries. Bottled at 42.6% ABV.. It has a hint of berry skin fruitiness along with delicate floral hints. Fantastic with tonic, or even a martini! $50
Black Tomato Gin
The unlikely partnership between a seller of socks and a seller peanuts. A gentleman from each of these industries have come together in this work of passion. Wanting to make use of hobby-grown Sicilian Black Tomatoes, gin seemed to be the natural outcome. Said tomatoes were macerated and steeped in a traditional gin, then redistilled. A full-bodied feel and savoryquality is the outcome. Great for ceasars (obviously), or try it with a delicately fruity tonic/syrup! Distilled at Kapen Distiller in Zeeland, Holland. The black tomatoes are grown in Sicily.$78
Last Best Gin Crazy #50 Gough Gough
Crafted to be a cross between gin and a traditional absinthe. The use of locally harvested wormwood among other botanicals. Slightly viscous with that slick licorice-like notes you may expect, along with all the standard Gin fair poking in and out. This was also featured in a greeting cocktail for our guests, done with sparkling lemonade and thyme. $55
Malfy Con Arancia
A fresh and highly citrus-forward gin from the Amalfi Coast. Lemons, grapefruit and licorice along with a splash of blood orange juice makes for a bright gin with a lovely pink hue but contrary to its appearance, it’s still dry(ish)! A beautiful gin at a beautiful price. $38
Bryce brought samples of all the botanicals from the Last Best gins we tried in order to give our guests that direct link between what they are smelling/tasting, and the botanicals themselves. It was an excellent aid that I may need to use myself next time. We all learned a heck of a lot that night as well, myself included. We all came to the conclusion that the best of the bunch tonight was Malfy, followed by the Mulan Szechuan, and finally Confluence. I nice range of fruity and unique expressions if I do say so. The Last Best bottlings are extremely limited just so you all know, and once they are gone, I don’t think we’ll be seeing them for at least a little while, so if any of these sounded tasty (don’t they all?) I would make sure to grab one before too long.
I want to thank all my guests for assisting me in sampling all these gins, and to Bryce for coming in and gifting us all his knowledge! I look forward to seeing everyone again where we may sample some tequila and mezcals!