Cheese and gin and cocktails and meat and tonics are all among my favourite things (and commas are not!). Thankfully, a new tasting season means a new round of gins for us to mix up and taste! I’ve said this before, but I feel that the romance behind gin is that it has the ability to showcase the creativity of the distiller. Starting with the base grain, and how clean you want to distill the spirit, you can create a dry and pretty, curvy backbone, or a sweet and grainy base on which you layer whatever flavours you can think of. The weather is starting to warm up, and we’ve already seen a pick up in gin-based traffic. So it was about time to start exploring and find the gin of the season!
I managed to bring together a selection of Gins, each from a different country, and each markedly different from each other. We started off the evening by sampling Eau Claire Distillery’s new Cherry Gin Collins. This ready-to-drink is a straight up Tom Collins (gin lemonade) made with Eau Claire’s Cherry Gin. It’s moderately sweet with ripe cherry flavours and hints of citrus.
Zuidam Dutch Courage Dry Gin: Finely distilled and brilliantly put together, is exactly what you’d expect from these veteran Dutch distillers. Juniper, Iris, Coriander, Angelica, sweet orange, fresh lemons, cardamon, licorice and vanilla are each infused via their own distillation. Overall, 14 distillations are completed. A delicate, herbal and slightly warm gin with a hint of richness is the result.
Ferdinand’s Saar Gin: This gin is made to embody the spirit of the Saar region. The countryside provides plenty of sustenance for the likes of gin, wine, and other treasured harvests. Aside from the 30 botanicals, riesling is also used in the gin making process. The beautiful aromatics from the noble grapes combine with their proprietary blend of locally harvested botanicals to create a vista of culinary, fruity and slightly earthy flavours.
Rivo Gin: This newcomer to the province hails from Lake Como in North Central Italy. The gin makers take after the witches of local legend who wandered the countryside near the lake and foraged herbs for their own esoteric use. Lemon Balm and Thyme are among the botanicals used. The gin is incredibly pretty with a big hit of floral perfume, and underlying notes of lemon, tea, and culinary herbs.
Masahiro Okinawa Gin: This unique gin will smell distinct right off the bat, and those who are familiar with Sake may pick up on it right away. Awamori is a rice based distillate similar to shochu, but drank mainly in Okinawa and a couple other countries, and is the base spirit for this gin. The fermented rice and koji are very noticeable as the base, and layered overtop are massive citrus notes, herbal green flavours, and hints of earthy black pepper.
Hendrick’s Orbium: The masterminds behind the Cucumber-rose gin that everyone loves are at it again. Orbium is meant to borrow from the cocktails that are closest to gin itself. Quinine is infused as is wormwood. The gin has a bit of a sweet base with notes of earth and oily fruits, but the finish is where those two unique ingredients shine through with a hint of dry and refreshing bitterness. The gin can be easily sipped on it’s own or with an ice cube.
Burwood Honeyberry Gin: Burwood is one of the more unique distilleries to start up in Alberta. This is part of their limited release series, and is infused with Haskap berries. Known in Japan as the berry of good fortune and eyesight, these berries are grown in many countries, and have flavours that resemble blueberries. This gin has a full sweet tone that backs up the juiciness of berries and prompts a dry tonic(Fever Tree?) or a bone dry vermouth.
With the sheer number of gins coming out every month, these tastings are quite fun as I get to learn about and taste some brand new, and often interesting spirits. Unfortunately this tasting occurred just a week or two before we are receiving some brand new small batch gins form Scotland’s newest single malt distillery in Holyrood Park (but you should definitely stop by the shop soon to see if we have received and opened them yet).
There was quite a spread when it came to the favourites of the night and that was likely because each gin was so distinct. The Rivo gin came in first place this evening, and I have to say that was a little surprising. Usually I find floral flavoured things to be a little less sought after, but everyone seemed to really like this one! This was followed up by the Zuidam Dutch Courage and then Burwood Honeyberry. One dry, one pretty and one sweet! Oh, I forgot to mention, I gave everyone Double Dutch Indian Tonic for dilution in case the gin was a little too strong for their palates. The tonic is well balanced and fits well with a wide range of gins.
That’s about all I have for you! Thanks a ton to Peasant Cheese for the nibbles, and thanks to all my guests for the fun evening! Next up is going to be Tequila and Mezcal, so don’t miss out!