Spirits Review

Review: Plymouth Gin by Jason Hambrey

Plymouth Gin 1.jpg
ABV
41.2%
Aging
None
Recipe
N/A
Producer Black Friar's Distillery (Plymouth, England)

For some info on the brand and the protected “Plymouth Gin” designation, see my post on the navy strength gin.

I got back into this gin because it is one of the best all-purpose gins for cocktails, adding a lot of depth and classic gin character without dominating subtle cocktails either.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2020

I never actually reviewed the standard version of Plymouth, until now. When reviewing the navy strength, based on my experiments with watering the spirit down, I thought that the ~40% version wouldn’t amount to much. I was wrong.

The gin, on its own, is a mix of a whole lot of components – juniper, coriander, and citrus almost in equal balance with depth across each of those categories. On the palate, each category seems to come out differently – deep lemon and orange zest, light sweetness, piney notes from juniper, and the freshest coriander imaginable, like a seed toasted and simply bitten into. The finish is so clean and citrusy, with notes of juniper complementing it all. There is also a pleasant brininess to it all – some pickled lemon, in fact, would be my closest analogy.

As a gin, it is quite good, but what really impresses is the versatility in mixing. Because of the depth of the citrus, juniper, and coriander, highlights are added in each of those categories and yet none of them dominates. Indeed, if you taste this one straight up the citrus is highlighted but the juniper and spice are still so clearly defined.

I’ve yet to find a gin which I prefer as the base of a martini, and it seems to work seamlessly across the endless spectrum of gin cocktails. In certain cases, I want more of a juniper hit, but yet, I’m never disappointed with this one. Very nice stuff.

Assessment: Highly Recommended.


Review: Last Mountain Distillery 306 Rum by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Last Mountain distillery.

Image courtesy of Last Mountain distillery.

ABV
40%
Aging
First fill ex-bourbon
Recipe
100% blackstrap molasses
Distiller Last Mountain (Lumsden, Saskatchewan)

Last Mountain distillery remains one of my favourite spirits producers in Canada - and I’ve always been eager to see how they have put together a rum. Generally the rums have been 1-3 years old, but now they are mostly 2.5 to 3 years old as the distillery has built up stocks. And - the rums should continue to increase in age as their inventory grows. The molasses has been sourced from an international producer to date, but they are soon switching to a Canadian supplier.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2021

The nose is sweet, with dried fruit, brown sugar, baking spices, toffee, balsamic vinegar, and a nice oakiness. It’s very clean – and the baking spices on the nose are just awesome. The palate is quite oaky, with dried apricot, orange peel, a whiff of molasses, vanilla, and white pepper. The finish is lightly tannic, with vanilla, baking spices, light molasses, prunes, and dried apricot.

It isn’t like a lot of other Canadian rums, which are often focused on heavy flavours. This is clean and elegant, and nicely balanced with a good cask. The cask character is strong in this – but since it is an ex-bourbon it works very well with this rum, rather than a new cask which would just dominate. I’ve tasted so many rums that are still quite raw at this age – nice to see one so clean and refined.

If mixing is your thing, and you like sidecar-type cocktails - this is quite nice in a Between The Sheets cocktail. In fact, you could stay in the Last Mountain lane and use their red-wine finished whisky as a cognac substitute – very different than cognac, but still fits into the cocktail well.

Or, if you want something darker, this would work well in a dark and stormy or else a rye and ginger ale, on the lighter side. That does the trick too…

Assessment: Recommended.


Review: Dillon's Peach Schnapps by Jason Hambrey

Dillon's Peach Schnapps 1.jpg
ABV
24%
Aging
None
Recipe
100% Rye + Fresh Ripe Niagara Peaches
Distiller Dillon's (Beamsville, ON)

This is one of my favourite spirits I’ve tried this year, and I think it illustrates some of the great things that Canadian distillers are doing. This schnapps is made with Dillon’s 100% rye base, and to it are added fresh Niagara peaches. This schnapps isn’t too sweet, and it has a great essence of peaches - it is fantastic!


Review (2020)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

Peaches! But really nice ones, not fake in flavour at all. Peach, peach, peach, clean and rich – but also some nice rich spices, prunes, dried apricot, peach jam…it is slightly sweet on the palate, but not too sweet – with blackberry and blueberry notes making their way in. The rye spirit does so well with the peaches here – awesome stuff. Most schnapps don’t have the depth of spirit as this, the fruit flavour isn’t as vibrant, and they are much sweeter. So, this is a winner.

This makes me want to go hunt for Dillon’s cassis. Great to see some great Canadian spirits being produced.

This makes a really nice cocktail with 120 ml sparkling, ½ oz gin, 2/3 oz peach schnapps, and 1 tsp honey.

Assessment: Highly Recommended.


Review: Lumette! Alt-Gin by Jason Hambrey

Lumette.jpg
ABV
0%
Aging
None
Recipe
Made with juniper, grand fir, grapefruit, orange, cucumber, mint, and rose
Distiller Sheringham Distillery (Sooke, British Columbia)

I was thrilled to see this - another non-alcoholic distilled spirit made to elevate mocktails (or cocktails, too, I suppose). It offers a complex burst of flavor, and this one, in particular, is made in the flavor mold of a gin and slides particularly well into gin and tonics, among other cocktails. As I’ve said before, I’m a huge supporter of this category as it adds another dimension to mocktails and helps with inclusive bartending.


Review (2020)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

A very complex nose – floral, spicy, and woody. It has a good dose of cucumber, but it’s surrounded with woody juniper notes and rich rose. Nicely layered, but interesting because I don’t really have any reference for something like this. Each of the botanicals listed – rose, cucumber, grapefruit, orange, juniper, mint, and grand fir – all come out clearly and balanced on the nose.

The palate follows, slightly sweet, with juniper and a good dose of cucumber, finishing with rose. It has something of a cucumber-skin bitterness to it, and the finish is somewhat lingering with rose, cucumber, and orange. It isn’t meant to be consumed neat, but it’s an interesting experience. I don’t particularly like it neat, but, that’s not what it was made for, was it?

It makes quite a nice gin and tonic, but the Lumette website offers a number of other good recipes to try. The “zero proof mimosa” recipe with orange juice, sparkling, and marmalade is excellent. The recipe for the “zero proof bramble” with blackberry jam, lemon juice, and Lumette is quite good too.


Assessment: Recommended.


Review: Hampden Gold Jamaican Pot-Still Rum by Jason Hambrey

Hampden+Gold.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller Hampden Estate (Wakefield, Jamaica)

An aged rum bottling from Hampden, which is one of the most interesting distilleries in the world, in my opinion - they produce really complex, briny, and almost-smoky tasting rums. This isn’t sweet like many rums (many rums have added sugar).


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L194

  • Bottling Date: ~2019

Smoky, sharp, fruity, briny and spicy – clove and white pepper. Lightly smoky, and almost a bit sulphury. Molasses, green apple, lemon, orange peel, green olives – quite marine in character – and the spiciness seems to grow. Slightly oily and dusty, and an incredibly rich middle. A touch rough, but very complex and interesting. Very unique, I’m glad I have it. The palate is still briny, but with some growing caramel and a sharp molasses note. Olives are all over, and thick molasses grows towards the end. There is a big of smoky vegetal earthiness too, like some mezcals. The finish has baking spice, wood tannin, vanilla, light tannin, and chili. Oiliness seems to grow with time, along with molasses. Big for 40%, and still quite dynamic.

Very good and interesting, but not nearly as dynamic and powerful as the excellent Rum Fire Overproof white rum from Hampdens, in my opinion.

Assessment: Highly Recommended

Excellent value, especially if you get it in Jamaica for ~$14!