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Fils du Roy – Gin Thuya (New Brunswick)

Review: Fils du Roy – Gin Thuya (New Brunswick)  85/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published on May 7, 2019

According to the Fils du Roy website, it was family reunion in Caraquet in 2011 that sparked the idea of building a family owned distillery. The very next year, Distillerie Fils du Roy was born, and Sebastien Roy and his mother Diane began the development of two first products: Gin Thuya and Absinthe La Courailleuse.

A few Years later a second Distillerie Fils du Roy opened in Quebec led by Jonathan, Sebastian’s brother. Both distilleries produce Gin Thuya, and I have been told by Sebastien that the two spirits have turned out quite different as the still in Quebec, produces a different range of flavours than the still in New Brunswick.

The Gin Thuya which is the subject of this review is produced in New Brunswick by Sebastien Roy at Distillerie Fils Du Roy. The spirit is produced from a base of corn alcohol which is redistilled in the presence of Thuja occidentalis (also known as northern white-cedar or eastern arborvitae) and various other botanicals which include Juniper Berry (75%) and Coriander (10%) in a small copper still.

Fils du Roy – Gin Thuya is bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 4/5

Gin Thuya produced at the New Brunswick Distillery is sold in the tall long-necked bottle shown to the left. The main difference between the New Brunswick bottle and the Quebec bottle is that the labels are coloured differently. The Quebec bottle has a gold and green colour scheme, the New Brunswick bottle has a gold and dark blue colour scheme. I like the New Brunswick version better, but I would not argue with one who disagreed with me.

This style of bottle is quite common. It is made to easily fit on a narrow bar shelf; the long neck makes the spirit easy to pour without spilling; and the round cylinder fits easily in the hand making the bottle easy to grab. The only detriment is the pressed-on metallic screw on cap which screams bottom shelf. Off setting this is the fact that the cap is actually quite sturdy with sufficient thread to maintain a seal after the bottle is opened.

In the Glass 9/10

The gin is clear in my glass and shows no hint of colour.

The initial aroma is very traditional with firm scents of piny juniper alonside fragrant notes of evergreen boughs. I reminds me very strongly of the scents and smells I encounter when I hike through the alpine forests at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. There is a light citrus note within hinting at lemon and citrus zest. I also notice a light perfume-like quality akin to blue iris. I am unaware of whether that particular botanical is present; it may be that the redistillation on the small copper still has created fragrant congeners which give the gin this additional quality. I also notice a touch of spice in the air. Cinnamon and ginger are hinted at, as well as coriander.

The merry little breezes above the glass yield great promise.

In the Mouth 51/60

When I took my first sip, I wa somewhat surprised as that hint of perfume in the air seems to have found much more expression in the spirit than I would have suspected. This is a floral gin. I tasted a firm presence of juniper with a light current of anise-like licorice underneath. Citrus zest and coriander spice heat the palate somewhat; although these botanicals are kept well in check.

I am puzzled by the floral nature as this was not indicated as a main feature of the spirit in any of the information I was given. I finally decide that this floral taste may well be the influence of the presence of Thuja occidentalis (northern white-cedar) which was present in conjunction with the other botanicals during the redistillation, or perhaps it is a product of the small copper still (probably both). Whichever is the case, this floral character had an impact on the types of cocktail which I preferred.

When I mixed a gin and tonic, I found that the floral component within the gin interfered with my enjoyment. It just didn’t seem to fit the taste profile I preferred. So I went in a different direction and mixed a short cocktail with lemon, lime and triple sec. This was much better and my suggested cocktail seen below follows this theme (see below).  A small Martini turned out nicely as well. I found I preferred a regular martini with a full third of Vermouth rather than a dry martini as the aromatised wine seemed to work well with the floral nature of the gin. (Please everyone, use only fresh vermouth for your Martinis, a bottle that has been opened and left on the shelf for more than several days begins to pick up that awful vinegar taste very quickly.)

In The Throat 12.5/15

Sipping neat causes a light burn to settle in. Part of this is the higher alcohol content (45 %) of the Gin Thuya, and part of this is the effect of the coriander spice. When I mixed cocktails, the burn disappeared so I doubt that it is of consequence to most of those who read this review. Gin is after all, a cocktail beverage. During the swallow, juniper and that floral (iris-like) flavour dominate; but soon afterwards light flavours of licorice and a light spiciness of coriander settles in. The gin has a lightly oily mouthfeel which allows these flavours to linger.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

Gin Thuya is an excellent juniper spirit. It is however, a spirit which will polarize opinion to some extent. I allowed several persons to taste the gin with me and found that we were pretty much split. Some of us (myself included) did not like the persistence of that floral component within the gin and found the effect almost perfume-like. Others, and it was about an equal split, loved that floral tone within the gin and believed it elevated the gin to another level.

My score 85/100 reflect my take on the gin. Even though I found the spirit excellent for short cocktails and regular martinis, I found the floral nature distracted me from enjoying the spirit neat or in gin and tonics.

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 Recipe

This cocktail is built upon my popular gin serving, the Sentimental Lady. The addition of Coster’s Prescription Burnt Citrus Bitters add another dimension of sophistication.

Sophisticated Lady

2 oz Gin Thuya
1/2 oz Bols Triple Sec
3/8 oz Lemon Juice
3/8 oz Lime Juice
3/8 oz Sugar Syrup
3 to 4 drops Coster’s Prescription Burnt Citrus Bitters
Ice
Lemon Peel

Place the 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 Lemon Peel for garnish

Enjoy Responsibly!

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

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As always you may interpret the scores I provide 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 rum or whisky.  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 more 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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