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Spring Mill Gin

Review: Spring Mill Gin   (86.5/100)
Reviewed by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted February 11,  2020

The Spring Mill Distillery has roots in Upper Canada that stretch all the way back to 1836 when the Sleeman Family built a Distillery to augment the Brewery built 2 year earlier. While the Brewery became a Canadian success story, the Distillery didn’t fare so well as it ceased operations almost immediately after it was founded. However, the seed of that distillery must have have stayed with the Sleemans, as 183 years later they did it all over again and launched the Spring Mill Distillery on the banks of the Speed River in Guelph, Ontario.

Spring Mill Distillery Gin is produced from a base spirit of red winter wheat on copper stills which look like they would be perfectly at home in any Scottish Single Malt Distillery. Eleven botanicals are used, Angelica Root, Orris Root, Licorice Root, Cassia Bark, Cinnamon, Lemon, Orange, Sea Buckthorne, Nutmeg, Juniper Berries, and Coriander. According to the distillery:

At the heart, the liquid introduces a bright and approachable juniper with gentle floral notes on the mid-palate and the crisp clean citrus finish of a traditional London Gin style. Spring Mill Distillery Gin uniquely expresses a provincial earthiness, highlighted by a supporting cast of aromatics including angelica, cassia bark, and sea buckthorn to reflect the lush rural landscape of Canada. 

The final spirit is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 4/5

The sample bottle given to me is shown to the left. If you are wondering about the black marker on the left side which is not typical of the standard bottle, it is John Sleeman’s signature. John Sleeman signed a number of bottles at the distillery, and the sample bottle I was given was one of them.

Setting the signature aside (because it will not be on the bottle you buy at the store) the presentation is nice, but not over the top. The bottle itself is medium tall with a long neck sealed with a synthetic cork closure. On the back of the bottle is a picture of the original distillery built by the Sleeman family in 1836 and this picture shows through the front of the bottle when you look at it.

One thing I would definitely change (if it were up to me) is that I would move the bold blue “GIN” to the upper part of the label, above the words ‘The Spring Mill Distillery”. As you can see the placement of the word interferes with the view of the old distillery, and the bold blue font kind of ruins the whole look. Placed up above it would look much better.

In the Glass 9/10

Poured into the glass, the spirit is clear, and so is the lovely classic gin aroma which rises into the breezes, with mild juniper chased by bright citrus and wonderful light earthy notes following. Hints of spiciness tantalize, and within it all are light herbal nuances which hint at licorice and cinnamon. The aroma is exceptionally well balanced as all eleven botanicals seem to act in concert playing a soft mellow tune which entices you to steal a little sip.

In the Mouth 52/60

Leading onto the palate is a flavour impression of juniper which is softened by earthy angelica and licorice root. Citrus arrives almost immediately with lemony impressions followed by orange zest. Hints of cinnamon (cassia) and coriander spice add a touch of pungent spiciness offering a light contrast to the brighter citrus notes. The flavours are all relaxed and gentle rather than firm, and everything follows the the profile of a classic dry gin.

This of course means that the spirit is completely suited to what I refer to as the triumvirate of classic gin cocktails, the Martini, the Gimlet, and the Gin and Tonic. I would serve my Martini dry (providing I had a freshly opened bottle of vermouth), the gimlet with both lemon and lime to pair nicely with the light orange zest I can taste, and with whichever tonic water was my current favourite (I have been switching between Fever Tree, Fentimans and Q Tonic lately).

In the Throat 13/15

The finish is dry with orange zest appearing as you swallow, and earthy flavours of angelica and licorice root settling in. I taste an unfamiliar slightly sour and slightly acidic flavour in the finish. I suspect it is sea buckthorn adding a touch of its presence to the spirit. The orange zest and tapering earthy flavours within the finish bode well for those above mention cocktails. And indeed when I made a few, the earthy character of the spirit was pushing its way through.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

The Spring Mill Distillery has created a very nice dry gin with a mild earthy flavour profile. The juniper is not quite as firm as some gin enthusiasts would prefer; but the overall balance of flavour should win over even those hardened dry gin enthusiasts. I served the gin in a Gimlet to my friends at my recent gin tasting, and everyone enjoyed how the light earthy quality combined with the lemon and lime citrus. Afterwards (a few days later), I served myself a Gin and Tonic. Either recipe could serve as my suggested serving and in a bit of a coin flip, I have chosen to share the Gimlet down below.

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


Suggested Recipe:

Lemon-Lime  Gimlet

2 oz Spring Mill Gin
3/8 oz Lemon Juice
3/8 oz Lime juice
1/2 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1 Ratio)
Lime Slice for garnish

Add the three main ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Double strain into a Cocktail Glass
Float a Lime Slice on top

Enjoy Responsibly!

If  you are interested in more of my 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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