Eau Claire Parlour Gin
Review: Eau Claire Parlour Gin 84/100
Review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Published: March 28, 2016
Eau Claire Distillery opened as Alberta’s first craft distillery in the summer of 2014. The facility is located 35 minutes southwest of downtown Calgary in the picturesque Hamlet of Turner Valley. The name ‘Eau Claire’ has historical significance in Alberta, meaning ‘clear water’, and is representative of the clear water from the nearby Rocky Mountains that is used as the water source of the distillery.
The folks at Eau Claire pride themselves in sourcing locally farmed ingredients, including grains and potatoes from neighbouring farms. Each ingredient is secured from suppliers who are known and respected in Alberta’s agriculture profession. In addition to the direct from the farm suppliers, Eau Claire has a special connection to the land through its own, unique stable of plough horses. Horse farmed grain is a part of the Eau Claire story and culture. It was founder David Farran’s weekend pursuit of traditional horse farming that led him to establish Eau Claire in the first place. A number of the distillery’s products will be made with ‘horse farmed grain’ using agricultural methods dating back to the settlement of Alberta.
Eau Claire’s Parlour Gin was launched in August 2014. It is a London Dry style gin which features traditional gin botanicals including juniper, coriander, lemon, orange, and mint combined with unique local botanicals such as rosehips and Saskatoon berry. It is called Parlour Gin to reflect the great history of prohibition era gin parlours throughout the world, and to honour gin’s place in generating social conversation and friendship. The gin is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.
In the Bottle 4.5/5
Parlour Gin arrives in the clear stubby bottle shown to the left. It features a very nice label which places a well dressed moose and an equally well attired bear (perhaps it is a badger) at a sitting parlour table presumably socializing in a relaxed comfortable atmosphere. The Eau Claire Distillery logo with the working plough horses is placed above the table between the two friends.
The broad green stripe at the bottom of the label wraps around the glass. It contains information regarding the gin including the batch number. My bottle is from batch number 1511, which presumably means that the batch was distilled in the eleventh month in the year 2015.
The back of the bottle contains more information regarding the gin and the philosophy of the Eau Claire Distillery. I quite like both the bottle and the label.
In the Glass 8.5/10
The Parlour Gin is clear in the glass and when that glass is tilted and twirled it leaves a light sheen on the inside the crest of which gives up long skinny legs. The initial aroma brings a crisp juniper into the breezes with firm scents of rosehips and accents of coriander and citrus spice. When I inspect the glass more closely I notice impressions of dark fruit in the air which I believe are traces of Saskatoon berry. Deeper within the glass, I seem to sense an underlying herbal earthiness.
The overall aroma is quite interesting. In particular, the impression of rosehips seems to grow alongside the juniper. I shall have to see how this plays out across the palate and in cocktails.
In the Mouth 50/60
The aromatic impressions of crisp juniper and rosehips translate clearly across the palate. As well I taste an unexpected sharp squeal of citrus zest. I recall that the media notes I was given indicated the flavour profile of the gin was intended to be somewhat harsh making the spirit ideal for martinis and cocktails. That may be true (I will be testing that hypothesis); but it is also true that this sharp squeal of citrus peel makes sipping the spirit neat a bit of a challenge. Fortunately there is also a light herbaceous menthol-like quality which helps to cool the palate. When I take very small sips I begin to notice impressions of dark fruit (probably Saskatoon berry again) and well as an underlying earthiness which reminds me of dark licorice.
I decided to begin my cocktail explorations with a Lemon-Lime Gimlet. This became my favourite cocktail for the Parlour Gin gin as the citrus combines very well with the crisp juniper. Interestingly, I also found that the flavour of the rosehips pushed through the strong citrus flavour of the cocktail giving my gimlet an additional interesting flavour characteristic. I also tried a traditional Dry Martini. I was not as enthusiastic with the results as the flavour of rosehips seemed to dominate the serving and detracted from my enjoyment. When I made a Gin and Tonic, the results were again thwarted to some extent by the additional flavour of the rosehip botanical.
Looking for a way to compliment new flavour I was encountering, I researched some gin recipes and found one called the Apple Blossom which uses a touch of Calvados to enhance a Gimlet style cocktail. I adjusted the recipe slightly and came up with a serving which I thought complimented the Parlour Gin quite well.
(It appears to be true that the somewhat harsh citrus squeal within the spirit works well in at least some cocktails (see recipes below).
In the Throat 12.5/15
Sipped neat, the sharp citrus zest is felt in the throat, and as the gin is swallowed the palate is heated more than I would prefer. A touch of cooling menthol helps to smooth out the rough patches to some degree. As this spirit (like most gins) is intended to be a mixing spirit I am not overly concerned as this sharpness is not necessarily a detriment. In fact, in every cocktails I constructed, this light harshness disappeared.
The Afterburn 8.5/10
I served the Eau Claire Parlour Gin at a recent Rum Chums Tasting alongside several others gin brands. I learned from my guests that the rosehip flavour brought forward in the spirit is quite polarizing. Of the six attendees, two did not like this new flavour at all neither when sipping the spirit neat, nor when served in cocktails. Myself and three of my guests found the flavour worked well in the Lemon-Lime Gimlet, but were ambivalent towards the other cocktails I served that day (the martini and the gin and tonic). More positively, one of my guests thought we were all crazy, as she felt the gin was extremely good and in fact amongst the best she had tasted. My score reflects my view, but I thought it was valid to bring forward the diverse views of my tasting pals.
You may read some of my other Gin Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
2 oz Dry Gin (Eau Claire Parlour Gin)
1 oz Orange Juice
1/4 oz Calvados (Apple Brandy)
1/4 oz Grand Marnier
1/4 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
Add all the ingredients into a shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Double strain into a cocktail glass
Twist on orange peel over the top to release some zest
2 oz Eau Claire Parlour Gin
1/2 oz fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz fresh Lime Juice
1/2 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
Add the first four 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 lime slice
Please 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)