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Last Straw Distillery Golden Gin

Review: Last Straw Distillery Golden Gin    (80/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on January 23, 2020

The Last Straw Distillery is Ontario’s smallest production micro-distillery located at 40 Pippin Rd. in Vaughan, Ontario (a wee bit north of Toronto) just off Highway 400 and around the corner from Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre.

I reviewed The distillery’s Gin Twenty-One last year and found myself very impressed that this relatively young distillery was making such a nice gin so quickly. This led me to inquiring about their aged Golden Gin which I was planning to review last summer. I did manage to include the spirit in a blind Twitter Tasting where I pitted the spirit against two other oaked gins, but the review never materialized due to some unexpected tribulations on the home front.

When I checked Last Straw’s website (here) I saw that this limited edition Gin was still available so I included it in my first Gin Tasting of 2020 and have decided to complete that review today.

According to the Last Straw Distillery website:

Just in time for spring, this limited run blended gin has been lightly aged in charred American Oak for a unique twist on your favourite classic cocktail!

The spirit is bottled at 45% alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 4/5

The Golden Gin is bottled in an eight sided flask style bottle with a simple easy to read black and beige label. I like the heavy glass bottle which gives the brand an impression of substance. The thick glass bottom give the bottle a low center of gravity which adds stability on the bar shelf. The wide mouth makes pouring easy and the neck is just long enough to allow that easy pour to happen with no spillage

I should note that over time sediment appears at the bottom of the bottle. Although this sediment does not detract from the taste of the spirit, it is not a good look. At my recent tasting, more than one of my guests was put off by the sediment,

In the Glass 8/10

My Twitter Tasting Notes (where I tasted the spirit blind) are helpful here.

Nose: Piny juniper, hints of licorice/fennel, bits of coriander and citrus peel. Maybe a hint of sandalwood and ginger. and some vague lemon balm. Something vegetable creeping into the breezes …

I should note that at my recent Gin Tasting, all of my guests commented on the vegetal quality they could sense. It wasn’t overwhelming; however, it did distract everyone and the feeling was that this vegetal quality took more away from their pleasure than added to it.

In the Mouth 48/60

Again the tasting notes from the blind Twitter Tasting last summer are helpful:

Taste: Starts out with juniper but this is swamped out by spicy coriander and citrus spice. Mild vegetal taste sort of like plantain and baked squash. licorice/fennel comes though on second sip, along with a big build-up of spice. Seems out of balance to me.

When I tried a gimlet style cocktail called the Sentimental Lady:

My Sentimental Lady didn’t work out that well. The cocktail had a strange vegetal flair which crashed the party so to speak. Made the spirit seem more like a genever than a gin. Going to try a genever based cocktail and see what happens …

At the 2020 tasting the results mirrored my Twitter tasting results, although perhaps my guests liked the gin a little more that I did. I bumped the score a little to reflect this. Opinion seemed to favour tall fruit based cocktails ans so I made myself a Gin Fizz after the event and discovered we were on the right track (see below).

My thought at this point is that the underlying base spirit is perhaps not as refined as it could be. The spirit resembles an Old Tom Spirit more so than a typical dry gin especially with the light vegetal quality which pushes though the cocktails.

In the Throat 12/15

The finish is lightly spicy with coriander and light oak spice lingering on the palate with a light sweetness. Hints of bruised cucumber and plantain linger as well.

The Afterburn 8/10

Last Straw Golden Gin is typical of a lot of the spirits I am tasting which are produced by the small micro-distilleries in North America. Whereas I prefer gin produced with a clean base spirit which is free from vegetal flavours, the small distilleries who chose to make their own base spirit for their gins may still be on the learning curve figuring out what their stills are capable of and how to achieve it. In the case of the Golden gin, I think Last Straw was slightly off the mark. (Having said that, Last Straw’s excellent Gin Twenty-one demonstrates that this particular distillery can certainly produce a wonderful Dry Gin.)

Based on my tasting of their spirits to this point, I suspect Last Straw Distillery will continue to get better going forward. In fact my recent tasting of their sCORN whisky indicates that when they get it right, they can achieve at a high level.


Suggested Serving:

Lemon Fizz

1 1/2 oz Last Straw Golden Gin
3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
3/8 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1)
Sparkling Water
Lemon Slice

Add the ingredients into a Collins glas
Stir and fill with Ice
Complete with Sparkling Water or Soda
Garnish with Lemon 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)



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