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Burwood Gin

Review: Burwood Gin   (83.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on January  06, 2020

The Burwood Distillery is a small craft distillery founded by Jordan Ramey, Marco Cilic, and Ivan Cilic located in Calgary Alberta (4127 6th Street N.E). The Distillery includes a restaurant and Cocktail Lounge which offers a casual environment to enjoy the not only the distilleries fine spirits but also locally sourced farm-to-table menu items.

The distillery was hand-built and styled after a mixture of old-world Eastern European & Scottish farm-styled distilleries combined with new world craft beer methodologies. To help bring this unique facility to life, Marko spent tireless hours building the distillery, literally from the dirt floor up.

At Burwood, the focus is upon locally grown raw materials brought from the farm straight to the glass. The barley they use is grown and malted in Alberta by Rahr Malting Company of Alix, AB. Their honey comes from Ivan and Marko’s Father’s honeybees just outside of Chestermere, AB and through Greidanus Honey Mill in High River, AB. The team hand-crushes every grain, hand-scoops every ounce of honey, distills every drop of liquid, and bottles and packages it all in their Calgary facility.

To produce their gin, the team performed over 80 gin deconstructions to help them select their botanical recipe. Although I am not necessarily privy to the entire recipe, the website hints that Juniper and Coriander were given starring roles within the spirit elevated by Citrus and Lemon Grass. Szechuan Pepper adds a touch of spice which is tempered by the addition of Dragon Well Green Tea.

The spirit is bottled slightly over proof at 44 % alcohol by volume. It is sold in both 375ml and 750ml bottles.

Note: Burwood Gin received a Double Gold Medal at the 2019 Sip Awards and a Gold Medal at the Canadian Artisian Spirit Competition.

In the Bottle 4/5

Burwood Distillery’s Gin arrives in the clear stubby bottle shown to the left. Clear bottles with clear spirits inside are always a pain to photograph, but it looks like I did pretty good this time.

I like the bottle which holds to the bartender’s creed of being easy to store (the stubbly bottle is stable with a round shape that rests easily on any bartender’s shelf); easy to hold (the round cylindrical bottle is not too wide for the average person’s hand); and easy to pour (the cork comes out easily and the long neck helps us avoid spilling).

The label is though perhaps too simple. A little colour might help make it pop more. I would also like a few hints as to the flavour profile. Is this a traditional juniper forward gin? Is it perhaps one of the new so-called ‘American’ style gins which hold the juniper in check? Is this a dry gin? From the label we can’t really tell, so once the bottle is in a retail setting the consumer will not have much to go on. Combined with the plain label, my feeling is that this spirit could be easily overlooked for one with a splashier display.

I should point out that a feature is the batch number written on the back of the bottle. My sample bottle apparently comes from batch #7.

In The Glass 8/10

The gin is clear, and when I pour a little into my glencairn I see it is slightly thickened. In the breezes, juniper takes the lead with a touch of spiciness and some bright citrus following. That spiciness is likely a product of both the Coriander and the Szechuan Pepper botanicals. There is a mild scent of lemon in the air as well as a light earthiness which seems to meld the scents together.

There is a lot to like at this point; however I need to mention a small distraction. I seem to be noticing light vegetal tones in the air as well which indicate that the base spirit may not be as clean and crisp as I would prefer. I’ll have to see how this plays out when I sip the gin and make cocktails.

In The Mouth  50.5/60

The first sip seems to confirm all of the impressions I had when I nosed the gin. Juniper leads out (as it should) with firm citrus flavours chasing the juniper. Coriander is more noticeable now, both in a light cilantro-like spiciness which I can taste, and in a light lemony flavour which is characteristic of crushed coriander seeds. That earthy quality is there as well, and I am deciding that it could be a product of both the szechuan pepper (which adds another dimension of mild spice) and the Dragon Well Green Tea. Capping things off is a light sweetness which sort of holds everything together.

As indicated by the nose, there is a light ribbon of vegetal flavour and aftertaste. This vegetal tone is so light that sometimes I think I am imagining it, and sometimes I wonder if it is a product of the lemon grass or the Dragon Well Green Tea which are mentioned as botanicals. It could be either, or it could be as I implied above, a product of the base distillate carrying some distillation flavour into the gin.

I had actually mixed a cocktail a few days before I began my deliberations, one which I call The Sentimental Lady (see recipe below). I enjoyed the serving and believe that this style of cocktail suits Burwood Gin very well. I also served Burwood Gin to a few persons in my tasting group, and during that tasting event I constructed a Gin and Tonic for each of my guests to share. The Gin and Tonic was very well received and is recommended as well.

In the Throat 13/15

Burwood Gin behaves exactly the way it should as we swallow and sip. A lightly bitter flavour of juniper is chased down the throat by bright citrus and a light spiciness of coriander.  There is just hint of creaminess which allows the juniper flavour to reappear and settle on the palate after the swallow. If not for the ever so light vegetal aftertaste, this would have score much higher in each section.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

Burwood Gin is a delightful spirit. According to my bottle, my sample came from batch number 7 which means that the folks at Burwood are likely to be still in the stage of improving each batch which bodes very well for the brand. My impression is that the botanicals they have chosen, used play very well with each other. The spirit works quite well in short cocktails and as indicated makes a swell Gin and Tonic as well. The only minor distraction was the very light vegetal flavour which seemed to carry into the cocktails and mixed drinks.

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

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Suggested Recipes

Sentimental Lady

1 3/4 oz Burwood Gin
1/2 oz Bols Triple Sec
3/8 oz Lemon Juice
3/8 oz Lime Juice
3/8 oz Sugar Syrup
Ice
Lemon Coil

Place the five ingredients in a metal cocktail shaker with ice
Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Add a Lime Coil for Garnish

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!

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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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