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Sheringham Kazuki Gin

Review: Sheringham Kazuki Gin    (89/100)
Reviewed by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted February 20,  2020

Sheringham Distillery is located in Sooke B.C., a locale which overlooks the Strait of Juan de Fuca on Southern Vancouver Island. The name ‘Sheringham” is an homage to the name original name given to the area in 1846. When the first postal service arrived and the first Post Office was built, the name Sheringham was shortened to ‘Shirley’ so that it would fit properly on the postage stamp. (The Distillery was originally located at Shirley B.C which is about 20 minutes north of Sooke.)

The folks at the Sheringham Distillery believe in the importance of strong ties with local producers. Applying this principal, they source local agricultural products from British Columbia and Vancouver Island. The by-product of their spent grains is distributed to local farmers as a healthy source of high protein livestock feed. The boxes their bottles arrive in are re-used for our distribution boxes. Sheringham Distillery re-uses, recycles and composts all they can.

The distillery produces two gins, Sheringham Seaside Gin which is a traditional juniper forward gin with a unique Island twist. They also produce the Kazuki Gin which brings an oriental flair to the Sheringham style. The Sheringham Distillery also has an award winning Akvavit, and has began to bottle whisky as well (Red Fife, and Woodhaven).

Sheringham Kazuki Gin is produced from B.C. grown white wheat and malted barley. Traditional botanicals are paired with Cherry blossom petals (imported from Japan) as well as premium yuzu peel,  and green tea leaves and flowers from Westholme Tea Farm in Cowichan Valley. It is meant to be a sort of East meets West gin with a mix of traditional and exotic botanicals.

I served Sheringham Kazuki Gin at a tasting event I held for my friends, and some of the commentary included in the review includes their thoughts as well as my own. The Spirit is bottled at 43% alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 4/5

Sheringham Gins are sold in the 750 ml bottle shown to the left. This is a flask style rectangular bottle with a medium long neck for easy pouring and a corked closure which adds just a bit of class to the presentation.

The label is perhaps a little drab, and I would like to see a little colour or charactor added to the label. One idea I had was that Shirley B,C, is known for the view of the Sheringham Point Lighthouse which was built in 1912 following the fatal wreck of the SS Valencia six years earlier. (The lighthouse it is still used for navigation today.) It would be nice to see some landmark such as this on the label which would relate the gin more closely with its South Vancouver Island locale. Another thought is to highlight the unusual botanicals which add the Eastern flair to the gin. Images of Japanese Cherry Blossoms and Green Tea + Flowers would certainly add a colour boost to the label.

On a more positive note I like that the label includes the year the gin was bottled and the batch number. Sheringham is a small batch producer and incorporating this information onto the label helps to drive that point home. The back label includes information regarding the botanical selection which is also a nice feature of the presentation.

In The Glass 9/10

When I received Sherinham’s Kazuki Gin, I was under the impression that this was a non-traditional gin; and I was afraid, that like many other non-traditional gins, this meant that the juniper would be hidden. So I was quite happy to notice a nice firm juniper scent in the breezes. While it wasn’t hitting me over the head, it was nevertheless the dominant botanical (as it should be). Alongside the juniper were spicy scents reminiscent of coriander and ginger which I suppose represent the traditional botanicals within Kazuki. However, there was also an exotic flair which evoked quite a response from my tasting group. None of us really new what Kuzu peel was let alone its fragrance; but all of us noted a unique floral aspect to the aroma. We were reminded of roses and what I called a springtime bouquet. There was also a nice sort of effervescence which reminded me of grapefruit zest.

I was very impressed with this ‘modern gin’ especially as the spirit, in my mind remained a gin, yet not like any gin I had encountered before.

In the Mouth 53.5/60

When I took my first sip of Kazuki Gin, I found the flavour diverged a little from the aroma. The juniper was more obscured by the mix of botanicals which now seemed to be taking the lead. There were familiar citrus flavours, lemon and grapefruit, and then there was something that seemed like a ribbon of exotic orange liqueur, but not quite. The floral nature remained, although thankfully it was garden floral (reminding me of pansies and roses) and not perfume-like. Then there was the unfamiliar, an sort of earthy quality that was hard to identify, but which seemed to pair extremely well with the rest of the botanical mix.

I really enjoyed sipping this gin; but I was worried that mixing a cocktail would be a challenge. So I mixed a Negroni for my friends as I thought that would be a good starting point. We all liked it, but in the back of my mind I had the inkling that I could do better. I remembered a cocktail I designed several years ago based upon a Gin Cocktail from an bartending book published in 1878. The cocktail is basically an early version of The Old Fashioned Cocktail, except it is made with gin, not whisky or brandy. This cocktail appealed to me as it was my feeling that the Kazuki Gin’s flavour, which I enjoyed sipping so much, should be front and center in the cocktail.

I think it worked out splendidly and have shared the recipe below.

In the Throat 13/15

The gin has a spicy finish with coriander and citrus lingering on the palate. The juniper comes back just a little reminding us again that this truly is gin, although not necessarily London Dry.

The Afterburn  9/10

I really enjoyed Sheringham Kazuki Gin. The flavour is familiar, but then not; exotic, but then not. It fits within the paradigm of gin, but has sort of carved out its own little niche. It is perhaps a little hard to mix with because the style isn’t quite London Dry; but at the same time, when I settled upon a cocktail that would embrace rather than hide its wonderful flavour, I found I was on the right track.

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 Cocktails

Leo Engels, published his Bartender’s Guide, American and Other Drinks, in 1878. It is a fascinating glimpse into early mixology at a time when bar drinks and cocktails were just beginning to evolve and spread through North America and Europe. At that time, the word ‘cocktail’ was reserved for a specific type of bar drink, which resembles what we call the Old-Fashioned cocktail today. Other styles of bar drinks had their own names, the Crusta, the Smash, and the Julep just to name a few.

Nowadays, these bar drinks are part of the entire class of mixed drinks called cocktails; but back then, they were each their own class of bar drink and the cocktail was class of mixed drink, separate and distinct. How the word ‘cocktail’ evolved to encompass all classes of bar drinks is unknown to me; but if you want to go back in time and build an original ‘cocktail’, Leo Engels’, American and Other Drinks is a great starting place.

Here is a modern version of Leo Engels’ recipe for the Gin Cocktail:

Modern Gin Cocktail

2 oz Sheringham Kazuki Gin
1/8 oz Orange Curacao
Dash of Angostura Bitters
1/8 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1 Ratio)
Lemon Peel

Fill a shaker 1/3 full of ice
Add all ingredients
Shake until the outside of the shaker is very cold
Strain into a glass
Garnish with a strip of lemon peel

Enjoy Responsibly!

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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