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Dillon’s Black Currant Bitters

Bitter Review: Dillon’s Black Currant Bitters (85/100)
Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka The Rum Howler)
April 29, 2019

Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers is a small craft producer of spirits located in Beamsville Ontario. They currently produce Vodka and gin (both distilled from Ontario grown Niagara Grapes), as well as both White Rye and Rye Whisky grown from 100% Ontario Rye Grain. The distillery also produces a number of specialty spirits such as Absinthe and Limoncello as well as a line-up of Cocktail Bitters.

It is the Cocktail Bitters which interest me in this review, specifically Dillon’s Black Currant Bitters

According to the company website Dillon’s Black Currant Bitters are:

A rich bitters created from only natural botanicals and fresh black currants. Made using black currants sourced from Peter Dillon’s home garden, it brings the perfect addition to a gin & tonic with muddled fresh currants.

The label of my bottle tells me that these bitters are made from a base of Local Niagra Wine Grape. The main ingredients added are, Alcohol, Water, Sugar, Black Currants (sourced from Peter Dillon’s home garden), Natural Flavours and Spices.

When I put a few drops on my tongue to test the flavour for myself, I found the bitters had a sharp somewhat tannic taste which represented a flavour of bitter black currants with more than a hint of green grape alongside. Despite the bitterness, a light sweetness comes through as well as does a light backbite of citrus zest and peppery spice.

My feeling is that the suggestion by Dillon’s that we should pair the Bitters with gin is a very good idea. Although I have no doubt that the Gin and Tonic idea is sound, I went with a more sophisticated libation mixing Dillon’s Black Currant Bitters with Gin, White Cranberry Juice and Lime in a short gimlet-style cocktail (see recipe below).

I went even further the next day using the bitters in an Old Fashioned Cocktail with Templeton Rye. I would suggest that I could well have made a Manhattan as well. The firm bitter Black Current flavour seems to be a natural complement to both Canadian and American style whisk(e)y as well as gin. (See Old Fashioned recipe below)

A small criticism (and this is a very small criticism) is that I found that I was using five or six drops of bitters in each of my libations instead of one or two. I think that perhaps the flavour could have been concentrated even more to give the bitters more pop. Of course, this disadvantage can be turned on its head, as it is easier to get the final flavour of a cocktail right when you add five or six drops, than when you add one or two. Another very minor criticism is the light sweetness which I found oddly out-of-place when I tasted the bitters, although I admit that this feature did not hinder my ability to construct nice cocktails.

Dillon’s Black Currant Bitters deserves a good score (85/100). I found the bitters complimented a wider than usual variety of mixed servings, and the servings I tried were quite tasty. This is a nice addition to my home bar!


Suggested Servings:

Old Fashioned With Black Currant Bitters

1 3/4 oz Templeton Rye Whisky
1 tsp Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
4 drops Dillon’s Black Currant Bitters
Orange Peel

Add the first three ingredients to a rocks glass over the ice cubes
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink. (This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink)
Drop the peel into the cocktail if desired.

Please Enjoy Responsibly!


Spring Cocktail

1 1/2 oz Last Straw Gin Twenty-One
1/2 oz White Cranberry juice
1/2 oz lime Juice
1/2 oz Bols Triple Sec
4 or 5 drops Dillon’s Black Currant Bitters
Citrus Peel garnish

Chill a cocktail glass
Add the ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into the chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with Citrus Peel (Grapefruit in this case)

Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


You may (loosely) interpret the scores I provide as follows:

0-50 A concoction which if it doesn’t kill you will make you very ill indeed!
50-59 Not deadly, but not really useful either.
60-69 Limited appeal but useful for some cocktail styles.
70-79 Useful and versatile
80-89 Excellent/bold flavour enhancement for a variety of cocktails
90-94 A must-have addition to your home bar
95+ Turns your cocktail into the Elixir of the Gods!

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal
90 – 95         Gold Medal
95.5+            Platinum Award

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