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Archive for the ‘Gin’ Category

Review: 1830 Sahara Dry Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 1, 2015

Sahara and Tonic SAM_1258Highwood Distillers is a Canadian distillery situated in the town of High River, Alberta, which lies just about 40 minutes due south of Calgary, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. The distillery was originally established as the Sunnyvale Distillery in 1974, however it was renamed ‘Highwood Distillers’ in 1984 linking the Distillery geographically to the nearby Highwood River and the scenic foothills in which the Town of High River is situated. Several years ago I visited the distillery and watched first hand as (using a batch still) they turned the local wheat into whisky, vodka, and gin.

1830 Sahara Dry Gin is a step up from Highwood’s very dry Sahara Dry Gin (click on the link to read the previous review) and features a slightly sweeter, somewhat more citrus forward flavour profile. It is produced from Canadian wheat and naturally sourced Rocky Mountain water. The botanicals mentioned on the Highwood website are juniper, citrus of orange, lemon, and lime. There are of course a few other secret botanicals not mentioned  which are all added just prior to the final distillation.

Here is a link to my review of the spirit which won last summer’s Rum Howler Gin and Tonic Challenge, the 1830 Sahara Dry Gin.

Review: 1830 Sahara Dry Gin

“… The nose has indications of juniper with lighter accents of lemon, orange and mild scents of black licorice. There is also impressions of a mint-like scent mingling within the breezes and additional scents of spruce boughs, and white flowers. The impression is of a mellow spirit which promises to be laid back and enjoyable …”

Cheers Everyone!

Posted in Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Review: No. 209 Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 17, 2015

209 Long Darby SAM_1425

No. 209 Gin and the Long Darby.

No. 209 Gin is produced by a company called Distillery No. 209 who is apparently located on the waterfront on San Francisco’s Pier 50. Their gin is produced from a four times distilled (multi-column distillation) corn-based spirit. Although the main flavour of any gin must be juniper, the company uses a variety of botanicals (some of which they are quite secretive about) in the gin’s construction. Some of the major botanicals which the company does identify along with juniper are bergamot orange, lemon peel, cardamom pods, cassia bark, angelica root and coriander seeds.

All of the botanicals are macerated overnight within the corn-based distillate, and the resulting infused alcohol is then distilled a fifth time upon a Copper pot Forsythe still. This final distillation takes about 11 hours, with the head and tails of the distillation discarded and only the heart captured as No. 209 gin. The final spirit (according to my bottle) is bottled at 92 proof or 46 per cent alcohol by volume.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: No. 209 Gin

“… The breezes above the glass initially reveal a lightly sweetened aroma which carries impressions of lemon balsam and orange peel citrus with deeper richer notes of juniper developing over time. There seems to be a hint of spiciness in the air which reminds me of ginger, coriander and cardamom …”

I provide a recipe for delicious Collins-style bar drink at the conclusion of the review which I have named, the Long Darby.

Please enjoy my review and my suggested bar drink.

Posted in Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Review: Citadelle Reserve Gin (2013 Edition)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 3, 2015

Citadelle 2013 SAM_1363While most gins are not matured in oak casks, Citadelle Reserve (2013 Edition) Gin is not only aged in small oak casks, it is the first gin to be aged using a solera style maturation. According to the information provided on the Citadelle Gin website:

“The Solera aging method used for Citadelle is a very intensive process of putting Citadelle into different type casks for a anywhere from 2 to 5 months and will include American oak cask (to impart a touch of vanilla sweetness) and casks that once held Pineau de Charente (for a full-bodied, flowery roundness) and also Brandy (which imparts elegance). Once the gin has spent some time in casks, a portion of the gin from each cask will be moved into a large vat for blending, and new gin will be added to the remaining gin in the cask. Again, after aging for a specified period, the process of taking some of the aged gin out to be blended and adding new to the casks starts all over again.”

I was given a bottle of the 2013 Citadelle Reserve Gin directly from River Valley Beverages (the distributor for Cognac Ferrand spirits here in Alberta) for the purpose of a review here on my website.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Citadelle Reserve Gin (2013 Edition)

“… The 2013 Citadelle Reserve Gin has a lightly sweet and moderately spicy flavour profile with dominant flavours of juniper, oak, coriander, cardamom, and lemony citrus zest forming its backbone. Although the gin has a moderate but firm spiciness, it is nevertheless easy to sip (especially with an added ice-cube) …”

The 2013 Edition of Citadelle Reserve Gin is a spectacular gin! It is marvelously complex, and the oak forward spiciness is extremely appealing set beside the juniper forward flavour profile. The moderate spiciness within the gin which gives me an impression of robust masculinity; however there is more than enough other nuances of flavour found within which make the gin extremely interesting to sip.

Cheers Everyone!

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The Year in Gin (2014 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 8, 2015

RH-winner20142014 was another strong year on my website as it relates to the spirit which is called Gin. During the month of August, I published the Rum Howler 2014 Gin and Tonic Challenge a competition where I chose 17 different gins to pit against each other in constructing the quintessential summer cocktail, the Gin and Tonic. A fortunate by-product of my summertime challenge is that I obtained a large sampling of gin spirits for review this year and have a strong field from which to select my award winners this year.

As I usually do, I invited one of my gin loving friends to help me in the judging process for the 2014 awards. Each spirit was served in two cocktails (Darby Cocktail, and a Dry Gin Martini) as well as served neat with no ice. I also included the results from my Gin and Tonic Challenge in my analysis.

Here is a link to the Awards Page for the 2014 Rum Howler Award winners for excellence in the production of Gin:

The 2014 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Gin

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Gin and Tonic Challenge – 1830 Sahara Dry Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 26, 2014

Sahara and Tonic SAM_1258Highwood Distillers, who provided my recent sample of 1830 Sahara Dry Gin, is a Canadian distillery situated in the town of High River, Alberta, which lies just about 40 minutes due south of Calgary, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. The distillery was originally established as the Sunnyvale Distillery in 1974, however it was renamed ‘Highwood Distillers’ in 1984 linking the Distillery geographically to the nearby Highwood River and the scenic foothills in which the Town of High River is situated.

1830 Sahara Dry Gin is produced in the London Dry style from Canadian prairie wheat and naturally sourced Rocky Mountain water. Juniper, Citrus of Lemon, and other botanicals are all added during the final distillation. The gin is as described, very dry; so dry in fact, that the folks at Highwood Distillers named it Sahara.

When I reviewed this local gin I was quite taken in by its lightly bitter, softly dry nature, and I was very enthusiastic about the cocktails which I constructed which included a Lime Fizz, a Lime Gimlet, and of course a Gin and Tonic. During this challenge (about half way through it actually), when I made my G&T cocktail with the Sahara Gin, I was taken in all over again. It was so good that I made the decision to delay its published score such that I could sample it head to head against the other G&T cocktails which populated my leader board, and use it as the yard stick by which I would judge the other Gin and Tonics by. A few of the G&T cocktails which I made came close, but none measured up to the wonderful G&T made with the 1830 Sahara Dry Gin.

I think, and I am only guessing here, that it is the wheat base for the gin is what makes everything work so well. Although the 1830 Sahara Gin is very dry, it has a softness and a mellow quality which I have noticed before in spirits distilled from wheat. It is this softness combined with the dryness that is making me like the gin so much. In fact in my review, I concluded that this is a paradigm shifting gin which softly rocked my cocktail world!

All of the results from my head to head sampling is completed, and the Best Gin for Gin and Tonic Cocktails is Highwood’s Sahara Dry Gin with an outstanding G&T Score of 91.5/100.

All of my Scores for the Rum Howler 2014 Gin and Tonic Challenge can be found here:

Rum Howler 2014 Gin and Tonic Challenge

As well you may read my newly published review of 1830 Sahara Dry Gin here:

Review: 1830 Sahara Dry Gin

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Posted in Awards, Extras, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Gin and Tonic Challenge – The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 25, 2014

The BotanistBot and Tonic SAM_1260 is the creation of Bruichladdich Master Distiller, Jim McEwan whom I had the opportunity to meet and talk to this past fall when he came to Edmonton to host an exclusive Bruichladdich Tasting at our city’s historic Chateau Louis Hotel. Although the focus of the tasting seminar was the new range of Bruichladdich Single Malt whiskies, Jim did include his new Botanist Islay Dry Gin in the flight of spirits. In fact he spent more than a little time describing to us how the distillery had come to the decision to produce this gin and his own personal journey of discovery which he underwent while he went through the process of researching and producing the first Islay Dry Gin. (Jim McEwan even admitted to trading some of his prized Single Malt Scotch with one of the industries venerable gin producers in return for some of his gin secrets.)

At the end of the tasting, I was invited to talk to Jim, and he offered to pour me another glass of my favourite spirit from the tasting. Although, I had tasted a range of Single Malts which included spirits 12 years old (and older), Mr. McEwan did not seem at all surprised when I asked for a second glass of The Botanist straight up with no ice. It was, in my opinion, the star of the afternoon.

I finished my review of this lovely gin last night after and one of my conclusions was that it is not only a great cocktail gin, it is also equally enjoyable as a sipping spirit which is most unusual in the gin category.  of course this means, it scored rather well in my G&T Challenge landing near the very top of the leader board.

My G&T Score for the Botanist Gin is a very high 90.5/100 points.

By now you all know that you do not have to keep track of these scores yourself, as I have constructed a separate page to keep a running tally of all scores as they are published:

Rum Howler 2014 Gin and Tonic Challenge

As well you may read my newly published review of The Botanist Islay Dry Gin here:

Review: The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

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Note: I received my sample bottle of The Botanist Gin from the local distributor, Select Wines.

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Gin and Tonic Challenge – Dictador Ortodoxy and Tonic

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 24, 2014

Ortodoxy and tonic SAM_1248Dictador Ortodoxy Aged Gin is the result of the passion of former President of Dictador, Dario Parra, who had during his many travels in the United Kingdom developed a tremendous love for gin. Dario studied many gin recipes and when he arrived back home in Colombia he developed a gin for his own personal use, utilizing traditional ingredients in conjunction with berries and botanicals native to Colombia. Dario Parra’s passion resulted in the creation of two aged gins which are now sold internationally, Dictador Treasure, and Dictador Ortodoxy.

Dictador Ortodoxy has been constructed to have a traditional, or orthodox, flavour profile which will be familiar to gin enthusiasts. This gin is produced from sugar cane alcohol which is distilled 4 times to 96 % alcohol by volume. During the 5th distillation each botanical is macerated and distilled separately before being blended. The blended gin is then aged for 35 weeks in previously used rum barrels, and then filtered clear to be bottled at 43 % alcohol by volume.

When I reviewed this gin earlier in the summer, I admitted to being blown away by how it performed in a standard G & T cocktail. It should not be surprising then, that the Dictador Ortodoxy and Tonic has received a very high score in this competition, in fact with only a few more gins to go in my challenge, it has rocketed to the top of the pack being the first gin to score in the 90’s!

The G&T Score for the Dictador Ortodoxy Aged Gin, based on my standard G & T cocktail is an outstanding 91/100.

Just so you do not have to keep track of these scores yourself, I have constructed a separate page to keep a running tally of all scores as they are published, and you may refer to that page here:

Rum Howler 2014 Gin and Tonic Challenge

As well you may read my published review of Dictador Ortodoxy Aged Gin here:

Review: Dictador Ortodoxy Aged Gin

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Note: I was provided a sample bottle of Dictador Ortodoxy Gin for this challenge by Thirsty Cellar Imports, who are responsible for its importation here in Alberta.

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Gin and Tonic Challenge – Ungava Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 23, 2014

Ungava and Tonic SAM_1257Ungava Gin is a product of Domaine Pinnacle a family owned orchard and cidery located on a beautiful heritage property near the historic village of Frelighsburg in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. Although primarily known for their Ice Cider and Maple Creams, Domaine Pinnacle also produces a very unusual Gin called Ungava.

In case you do not know, the Ungava Peninsula sits at the northern extreme of Quebec, between Labrador and the Hudson Bay. This is at first glance, a barren uncompromising land situated atop the tundra of the North Canadian shield. There are no trees to be found, and Tundra stretches (seemingly) endlessly from Ungava Bay in the east all the way to Hudson Bay in the West. To the North are the cold waters of the Hudson Strait which separates the Ungava Peninsula from Baffin Island to the North. This is (again at first glance) not the ideal place from which to begin the idea of creating a new gin.

However, if one looks a little closer (although, of course, you must look in the summertime), and if one talks to the Inuktitut people who have lived in the region for centuries, one will discover that there are a variety of botanical plants growing in the tundra right before your eyes. Six of these unique arctic botanicals (which grow wild in the region) are used in the construct of the Gin that bears this regions name. These botanicals, Nordic Juniper, Crowberry, Labrador Tea, Cloudberry, Arctic Blend, and Wild Rose Hips are hand-picked in the summertime and serve to bring a unique Northern Canadian charm to the Ungava Gin.

The flavour of the Ungava Gin represents a nice melding of piny bitterness and herbaceous spiciness with lemon citrus. The floral elements within serve more as an accent than as a main attraction. I found myself drawn to the complex flavour profile which was moderately aggressive and perhaps much more traditional than I expected. And as far as G&T cocktails go, the Ungava rocks out a strong piny mixed drink, full of character.

My G&T Score for the Ungava Gin is 88.5/100, a score which puts this Canadian Spirit with its unique northern botanicals near the top of the leader board.

You may find a running tally of all of the G&T Scores here:

Rum Howler 2014 Gin and Tonic Challenge

As well you may read my published review of Ungava Gin here:

Review: Ungava Gin

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Note: I was provided a sample bottle of Ungava Gin for this challenge by Crush Imports, who are responsible for its importation here in Alberta.

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Gin and Tonic Challenge – No. 3 London Dry Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 22, 2014

London No. 3 SAM_1251Berry Bros. & Rudd is London’s oldest wine and spirits merchant with over 300 years of experience and tradition to draw on. Using this expertise and a team of spirits experts they created No. 3 London Dry Gin. I first sampled the No. 3 Gin a few years ago at a store called Lacombe Park Spirits in St. Albert, Alberta. I had come to know the proprietors, Karim and his brother Jeff, quite well, and when Karim discovered that I was about to venture into a series of Gin reviews he insisted that I try one of his favourites. I was convinced after one sip that this was a gin which I wanted to review, and after contacting the website for No. 3 London Dry Gin, Ross Hendry from Berry Brothers & Rudd, arranged for me to receive a bottle sample with the help of the local distributor Charton Hobbs.

No. 3 London Dry Gin uses only 6 botanicals in its construction, Juniper, Spanish Orange Peel, Grapefruit Peel, Angelica Root, Coriander, and Cardamom Pods. In my review, I note how each of these botanicals (with the juniper taking a strong lead) leaves its imprint upon the spirit, and how in particular, the dry juniper flavour shone through the cocktails I built. When I built a few G&T cocktails this past  weekend with my sample bottle of No. 3 Gin I again noticed the strong flavour of the gin running through the mixed drink. In fact an obvious ribbon of juniper permeated the cocktail which gave the drink a firm lightly bitter flavour and somewhat drier than usual mouth feel. It is of course a matter of taste; but I found that light bitter dryness of the G & T cocktail extremely refreshing. I did, at the same time however, find that the elegant simplicity of this London Dry Gin seemed to be (for my palate anyways) better suited to be mixed in a Dry Martini. And to be honest, that will be the more likely destiny of the rest of my sample bottle.

My G&T Score for the No. 3 London Dry Gin is a solid 86/100. If I was to award a Dry Martini Score, it would have been much higher (perhaps next year).

You may find a running tally of all of the G&T Scores here:

Rum Howler 2014 Gin and Tonic Challenge

As well you may read my published review of London Number. 3 Gin here:

Review: No. 3 London Dry Gin

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Gin and Tonic Challenge – Hayman’s Old Tom Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 20, 2014

SAM_1246Old Tom Gin represents a style of gin which was popular in 18th Century England prior to the introduction of London Dry Gin. According to gin lore, Old Tom Gin derived its name from Captain Dudley Bradstreet who in the early 1700’s purchased property in London which had a good amount of gin on the premises. He set a picture of a “tom cat” upon the window facing outside and allowed word to be spread that gin was available at the establishment with the cat in the window. A passerby who wanted a shot of gin would place a penny in a slot in the wall under the windowed cat which would roll into the establishment signalling the bartender inside to pour out a shot of gin which would be funneled into a tube running through the wall. The passerby would either drink it  directly from the tube or collect it to consume later. Apparently this practice spread throughout London, and gin generically became know as that ‘Old Tom’ Gin in reference to the Tom Cat which signaled the presence of gin within an establishment.

Hayman’s Old Tom Gin is said to be produced from an old English recipe which can be traced to the 18th century prior to the introduction of the Coffey Still. However, many old cocktail books from the 19th century still refer to Old Tom Gin in their recipes, and the recent cocktail renaissance has led to a renewed demand for the Old Tom Style.

In my review for Hayman’s Old Tom, I concluded that this softer style of gin yearns for a variety of different ingredients to mix with. As well, I noted that it isn’t necessarily a natural fit  naturally for the traditional Gin and Tonic Cocktail which would more typically be constructed with a London Dry Gin. However, as the Hayman’s Gin is the only Old Tom I have access to, I decided to include it in my challenge. I found that when I used both Lemon and Lime to build my G&T (see recipe here), the results were actually quite pleasant. (A drop or two of grapefruit bitters is a great addition as well!)

My resulting  G&T Score for Hayman’s Old Tom gin is a respectable 82/100 points!

You may find my running tally of all of the G&T Scores here:

Rum Howler 2014 Gin and Tonic Challenge

As well you may read my published review of Hayman’s Old Tom Gin here:

Review: Hayman’s Old Tom

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Note: According to their website, Hayman Distillers is the longest serving family owned gin distiller in England today. Their Old Tom Gin has recently arrived in the Alberta market imported by Lifford Spirits who provided me with a bottle to review upon my website.

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