Stillin’ Gin’s Still In

by Shawn

Another month, another dozen gins to hit the market.

No, seriously, there are so many new gins assaulting the province every month I can barely keep track. My poor shelves don’t get a moment’s rest! Though it’s a pain to keep on top of it, I do have to admit that it makes these gin tastings more fun. I definitely enjoy putting together a well-rounded lineup featuring -mostly- new gins that showcase the different styles along with varied and interesting botanicals. So here’s what I have this time! If you read on, you’ll see what I mean. Let’s see, we’ve checked the dry box, the sweet, the floral, the fruity, the oaked, and even a classic genever!

My guests came, we laughed, we had some good conversation, and ate some fantastic cheese. This evening was a no brainer, and if you haven’t been to a KWM gin tasting… Wait, make that a SHAWN gin tasting, then you just gotta come see what it’s all about. I wax poetic, I geek out, and I guarantee everyone (including me) learned something. Read on for a look at what we tasted our way through this time ’round:

Scapegrace Premium Dry Gin: Scapegrace is the spawn of a New Zealand guy and his brother in law, birthed over drinks and hopes. This tight-knit, dry gin is made with 12 different botanicals including cardamon, nutmeg, clove, licorice and cinnamon. The delicate flavours and dry body make it perfect for martinis, and tonics.

Kavalan Gin: The Kavalan distillery -from Taiwan- is pushing their whisky back into the province with a fever. This is the first time their gin has been offered, and the reception has been hot! This exotic gin has ripe flavours of red guava, kumquat, and star fruit! Medium-dry and well suited to tom collins, tonic and mellower cocktails.

Hills & Harbour Gin: From Crafty Distillery near Galloway, Scotland. Hills & Harbour starts with a soft and lightly sweet base which is then layered upon with Bladderwack Seaweed and fir needles along with the traditional gin fare. Deep and complex with light candied notes and a spicy forest tones. This is a creative thing, so get creative with it!

Holyrood Auld Tam Gin: The first products from the brand new Edinburgh distillery Holyrood are a selection of 4 unique gins. Their Auld Tam is a medium-dry gin with some lovely fruity and licorice notes from the addition of fresh peach and chamomile. Though it makes you think Old Tom, this is actually drier than 99% of our local gins. It’s a really great overall gin.

Grit City Forbidden Fruit: Jen Schmunk is the co-founder and master distiller of Medicine Hat’s Grit City. She has stormed the market with a dozen products, and some of these are quite tasty! One of which is this fruit-infused gin. Citrusy and lively with an attractive pink hue thanks to a hibiscus steep. The winter wheat base gives a lightly creamy, softly sweet character that showcases the fruit nicely.

Zuidam Jonge Genever: I always like to throw a genever into my tasting. It’s where gin came from, after all, so it allows me to provide a more accurate history. This bottle smells of dusty, earthy grains with hints of pine and juniper. It’s medium-sweet and can be subbed into recipes where an Old Tom or an oak-aged gin is called for.

Odd Society Wallflower Oaken Gin: Speaking of oaked gin! Like the original Wallflower gin made by Odd Society Spirits, this is intensely floral and perfumey, and underneath it all is a light touch of spicy oak, caramel and vanilla.

There are some interesting little gins in there, and while tasting through them, we were able to narrow down some favourites.

The Hills & Harbour and the Genever came in a tie for first place, followed by the Holyrood Auld Tam! I was surprised with the high praise of the Genever, not because it’s bad, but because it’s definitely a rougher version of gin, and in past tastings, it got a rather cold reception. I’m so glad people are coming around to it!
Well, that’s about all I have for you folks. I still have stock of all these bottles if any of them interest you, they are also open to sample if that sweetens the deal at all!

Until next time, Cheers!
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