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Compass Distillers Gin Wild

Review: Compass Distillers Gin Wild   87/100
Reviewed by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted March 13, 2020

Compass Distillers is located in Halifax Nova Scotia, where Graham, Josh, and David began their distilling journey with a belief that they could create world-class spirits locally. Their artisan Craft Spirits are not imported, they are not blended with generic ingredients, nor are they pumped out of a factory; Rather, they are made from scratch, with locally sourced ingredients.

Gin Wild is Compass Distillers version of a classic gin with a Nova Scotian twist. Constructed from a base spirit of 100% Nova Scotian wheat, the gin is distilled with a blend of classic gin botanicals, with wild Nova Scotian juniper given the starring role. This juniper is handpicked from the rocky barrens of the Nova Scotia coastline. The rugged shores and climate impart a strong character to the berry. Other botanicals include orange, lemon, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, cilantro & ginger.

My sample bottle of Gin Wild was bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume.

In The Bottle  4/5

Compass Distillers sell most of their products in the squat cylindrical bottle shown to the left. The bottle follows 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 glass stopper comes out easily and the long neck helps us avoid spilling).

The image on the front label depicts the botanicals found in Gin Wild in their flowering stage.

In the Glass 8.5/60

The clear gin presents a firm juniper aroma which is chased by peppery coriander and zesty citrus. There is a floral aspect to the spirit as well. Fortunately not perfume-like, but more akin to hillside flowers and herbs.

As the glass breathes the peppery coriander pushes its way through becoming almost as firm as the juniper. The citrus remains strong and now I notice hints of ginger as well. I like what the breezes are bringing to me as there is a bit of an edge to the aroma promising a slightly hardened juniper and assertive botanicals.

In the Mouth  53/60

The nose translates extremely well across the palate as we do indeed have a bit of an edge on the juniper and with firm peppery spices (coriander and hints of ginger) chasing. Orange and lemon flavours play underneath softening the flavour just a little and bringing balance. Hill side florals trail merrily along. I can taste just a wisp of cilantro, and am happy it is not stronger. Cilantro is a polarizing flavour; but reined in as it is, it compliments the overall flavour wonderfully.

Mixing cocktails is quite easy. Although the juniper has an edge, it falls well within the construct of a traditional gin albeit with a bit of a Nova Scotian twist. I have decided to go in the direction of mixing with citrus, but I would not quibble with someone who recommended a Martini or a Gin and Tonic

In the Throat 13/15

The gin is smooth even at 45% abv. A hint of oil from craft still distillation lengthens the exit. Juniper and florals come through clearly in the finish with ebbing flavours of coriander and ginger.

The Afterburn  8.5/10

Gin Wild is a nice traditional juniper forward gin with just a hint of a hard edge. The flavour profile makes it an ideal candidate for traditional favorites such as the Gin and Tonic, the Gimlet, and the Gin Martini (although I would be tempted to Vesper the Martini).

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


Suggested Servings

This cocktail traces its roots all the way back to 1933 when Arthur Tarling of the London’s Café Royal created a simple gin recipe which won a cocktail competition in jolly old England.

The recipe he created, the Red Lion, mixed equal parts gin, orange liqueur, and a combination of lemon and orange juice. In most constructions I have seen online, a dollop of grenadine is used as the sweetener which gives the cocktail a pale red hue. Tarling’s recipe has stood the test of time, and can usually be found in the gin section of most good cocktail books.

The Red Lion

1 oz  Compass Distiller’s Gin Wild
1 oz  Bols Triple Sec
1/2 oz  Lemon Juice
1/2 oz  Orange Juice
1/4 oz  Grenadine
Lemon Twist

Add the first five Ingredients into a cocktail Shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a lemon zest twist

And of course enjoy responsibly!


Based loosely upon the Red Lion Cocktail, my March Lion Cocktail omits the grenadine in favour of sugar syrup, and alters the proportions of Gin and Curacao resulting in a much nicer bar drink.

March Lion Cocktail

1 1/2 oz  Compass Distiller’s Gin Wild
3/4 oz  Bols Triple sec
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Sugar Syrup
lemon slice for garnish

Add the first four Ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the sides begin to frost
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a lemon slice

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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