Gin Review

Review: Cool Cucumber Gin (Burwood Distillery) by Jason Hambrey

Image Courtesy of Burwood Distillery.

Image Courtesy of Burwood Distillery.

ABV
40.1%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
Alberta malt and botanicals
Distiller Burwood Distillery (Calgary, Alberta)

In creating their original gin, Burwood started with their flavour profile and worked backwards. The distillery staff brought in their favourite gins to taste together and explore the desired profile for their gin. Then, they went a step further – they conducted a blind tasting of over 100 gins as a basis for inspiration of a desired flavour profile. Then, they distilled it. If you ever have the change to ask Jordan Ramey to describe how he uses botanicals to create Burwood’s standard gin, you’ll walk out of the distillery with a purchased bottle.

But who doesn’t like a little variation? This “garden party” gin is a seasonal small-batch gin made with cucumbers and dill.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: 002

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2021

Well – this smells just like a dill pickle! The nose is rich and herbal, with loads of cucumber, cucumber skin, and a fresh leafy character like spinach. But, with that, lots of heavier characters too – woody juniper and even some earthiness. The palate brings forth even more cucumber (is that possible?) with dill and herbs alongside, tingly spices, woody notes, and mixed dried spices. There is a touch of nice spirit character too. The finish is clean, and herbal – but with a very nice citrus lift.

Perfect for sping.

I tend to prefer these cucumber gins as mixers. This one especially – the freshness of the cucumber and herbal notes contribute delightfully to bright and fresh cocktails.

Recommended.


Review: Salal Gin (Odd Society Spirits) by Jason Hambrey

Image Courtesy of Odd Society Spirits.

Image Courtesy of Odd Society Spirits.

ABV
30%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
BC Malted Barley, botanicals, and salal berries
Distiller Odd Society (Vancouver, British Columbia)

Salal berries grow naturally throughout BC, which are wild, furry berries full of tannins and anthocyanins - they are touted as a type of superfruit given all the healthy compounds. Odd society has taken these berries, and used them to create something similar to sloe gin, a popular spirit made with gin which has been infused with sloes (a relative of a plum) and often sweetened.

Using salal berries in this gin results in the creation of something similar, but distinctly west-coast. Salal gin begins with Odd Society’s Wallflower gin, to which salal berries. The berries add significant colour and flavour to the gin. This is a seasonal release, and this year, due to COVID-19, each release was based on berries from specific region: the Powell River and Haida Gwaii.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2020

The nose on this gin is so savoury (in the way that a good red wine or sherry can be)! Bright blueberry notes, forest floor, lemon, toasted coriander, clove, and a light licorice type character. The palate is very lightly sweet and dominated by berry notes (dried blueberry, dried elderberry), with a light sweetness, tannic character, and woody notes. The berry character is incredibly rich and penetrating – it’s bright but it’s almost dark with all the heavy fruity notes. There are light tannins that are perfectly balanced with the sweetness, and bring out the rich berry notes on the finish.

The gin is terrific in cocktails - it contributes a rich, deep blue/purple colour, tannins, and a nice berry jam flavour to cocktails. A few notable cocktails (provided by the distillery): “blood sugar sex magik” - 1.5 oz salal gin, 0.5 oz lime juice, 0.5 oz honey syrup (2/3 parts honey mixed with 1/3 parts hot water), 0.3 (10 ml) pastis, and 2 dashes angostura bitters - shaken and served in a chilled coupe glass. The cocktail really has great texture from the tannins, and the balance of bright acidity, berry notes, and licorice are just awesome. It’s quite elegant and deep. The finish is awesome.

The other cocktail to mention here is a margarita variation, with the salal gin standing in for the cointreau (the “salalgarita”): 1.5 oz tequila, 0.5 oz salal gin, 1 oz lime juice, 3/4 oz simple syrup shaken with ice and served in a rocks glass over ice. The colour is incredible, and it’s very different - you have the bite of the tequila, but accented by berry rather than orange - and the tannins from the salal gin add incredible texture to the cocktail. Very nice variation.

One of the best variations on sloe gin that I’ve had. I really like the tannic character of this, too - not only served straight or neat, but also in cocktails.

Assessment: Highly Recommended.


Review: Dragon Mist Gin by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Dragon Mist distillery.

Image courtesy of Dragon Mist distillery.

ABV
46%
Aging
None
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Dragon Mist Distillery (Surrey, British Columbia)

While Dragon Mist’s most well-known product is their (tasty) Baijiu, they also make a number of other products, including this gin.

This gin is made from BC-grown wheat, and fermented, distilled, and bottled in BC in accordance with the British Columbia Craft Distillery certification. The gin is made with a number of botanicals: juniper, apple mint, elderberry, orange blossom, fennel, chamomile, clover, rose petals, honey bush, spearmint, and orange peel. No coriander! It’s not often that you see a gin without that!


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2020

This has a really nice big, earthy character. I have trouble resisting it – though it may be outside the comfort zones of some gin drinkers. The earthy character I described is dusty, spicy (baking spices), and it has a clay soil type of richness. This is lifted with light citrus, and woody/bright juniper. It is bottled at 46% - and to great effect. The alcohol brings a great texture and finish to the gin. The spices bloom on the finish of the gin, juxtaposed by woody juniper and bright citrus.

Very unique, and I really like it – even more so the that I drink it. It has a rich earthy, spirity characteristic – this goes against the grain of most “modern” gins, and I think it’s a really great counterpoint.

Assessment: Recommended.


Review: Forty Spotted Tasmanian Gin by Jason Hambrey

Forty+Spotted+Gin.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
None
Recipe
Malt Spirit with Botanicals
Distiller Lark Distillery (Hobart, Tasmania)

This gin is made at Lark distillery in Tasmania, with a number of botanicals including the local pepperberry.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

  • Bottling Code: N/A

Quite a nice light gin. Lots of citrus and a core of juniper on the nose – but there is a really nice peppery, woody character to the gin. It’s slightly sweet, which helps balance out all the pepper and there are some really nice floral characteristics integrated into the whole thing. Sips quite well, mixes very well. Fantastic in a gin sour, but no suprises there.

Assessment: Highly Recommended.


Review: Schramm Organic Canadian Dry Gin by Jason Hambrey

Schramm+Gin.jpg
ABV
44.8%
Aging
None
Recipe
100% Potato Spirit, Organic Herbs & Botanicals
Distillery Pemberton Distillery (Pemberton, BC)

This is a gin made from a base of distilled local potatoes, combined with juniper berries, coriander seed, orange peel, rosemary, angelica root, Ceylon cinnamon, rosehips and hops - all listed clearly on the label. I quite like how the ingredients are listed right on the label. It takes 18 pounds of potato to produce a single bottle of this!

The gin includes a very narrow hearts cut - only across 4 alcohol percentage points off the still - this was the best balance Pemberton could find between the heavier juniper and the lighter fruit notes.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: 45 (Distilled Feb 2019)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

Rich juniper aromas, and an incredible wild sort of herbal and floral notes. It reminds me of certain blooming meadows, rich in a light mixed floral notes and sharp herbal notes. The hops come through, slightly – and they are awesome giving a real sharp character which contrasts with the cinnamon and dried orange. The juniper is strong, as I like it.  It’s a big gin, with a complex character. In the middle too, there is a flash of sweetness coming from the distillate, which isn’t lost – another big plus, for me, in gin. The finish has the juniper, earthiness, and a nice set of complex spices and woody notes.

I quite like the stuff. There is a light touch of earthiness too, I assume from the potatoes.

Chilled, the sharp vegetable character really shines through, along with the juniper. It is remarkable how strongly the flavours shine through, even chilled. It has a good voice in a cocktail, as I believe spirits should: this mixes well.

Assessment: Highly Recommended.