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1830 Sahara Dry Gin

Review: 1830 Sahara Dry Gin   90.5/100
Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published February 25, 2015

Highwood 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.


1830_Sahara_Dry_Gin-shadowIn the Bottle 4.5/5

To the left is a bottle-shot of the stubby 750 ml bottle of 1830 Sahara Dry Gin. The short squat bottle has a look and feel which implies ‘substance’ making this gin appear to be a little higher up the rungs of the ladder so to speak. I also like the angled wrap around label which adds to that ‘better than average’ look. A wooden topped natural cork stopper seals the bottle. Although I prefer corked closures to screw cap toppers, I have noticed that in my somewhat dry climate, cork stoppers tend to become brittle quite quickly, and when they do, they break rather easily.

I find the name of the spirit quite amusing. Here is a gin made in Alberta at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, yet it has a picture of a camel on the label and calls itself Sahara Dry. I get it, the gin is dry; but surely a name referencing the unique location in the world where it is produced would have been better.

In the Glass 9/10

I poured a little gin into my glass and examined it prior to the review. When I gave my glass a tilt and a slow twirl, I noticed a light sheen left on the inside which slowly vanishes dropping only a few skinny legs back into the 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.

In the Mouth  54.5/60

The gin has a softer mouth-feel than the previously reviewed Sahara Dry Gin with perhaps more sweet citrus flavours mingling with the juniper. In fact, the citrus elements seem to be melded almost perfectly into the juniper and light licorice flavours of the spirit, and this makes the gin easy to sip and enjoy. The gin also has very little if any alcohol astringency making it very smooth when it is sipped.

As a mixing spirit this Gin is simply stellar. Last summer, I placed the spirit in a line-up with 16 other gins from around the world in my Rum Howler 2014 Gin and Tonic Challenge. Although the line-up included many well-regarded spirits like Tanqueray, Beefeater 24, and Bombay Sapphire, it was Highwood’s 1830 Sahara Dry Gin that won top honours.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The finish is lightly dry with ebbing exit favours of juniper, licorice and citrus all melded together. The finish is quite smooth and, as I indicated above the spirit is a very nice sipper.

The Afterburn  9/10

The 1830 Sahara Dry Gin is very nice indeed. The spirit is remarkably smooth and features a very nice melding of citrus and juniper flavours which work well alone or in cocktails. 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 Sahara Gin is indeed dry, it has a soft, mellow quality which I have commented on previously regarding spirits distilled from wheat. It is this softness combined with the light dryness that is making me like the gin so much.

You may read some of my other Gin Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipes

Sahara and Tonic SAM_12581830 Gin and Tonic

1 3/4 oz 1830 Sahara Dry Gin
1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
3/8 oz Sugar Syrup (or to taste)
2 oz Q-Tonic
Cucumber Chunk

Add the first three ingredients into a rocks glass
Stir and add ice
Fill with Q-Tonic
Garnish with cucumber

Enjoy Responsibly!

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


My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret that score as follows:

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing spirit. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

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

70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)


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