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Spring Mill Vodka

Review: Spring Mill Vodka  82.5/100
Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published April 25, 2022

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 was quite the opposite 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 Vodka 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. According to the distillery:

Our premium Vodka is created on a foundation of three pillars – traditional handmade copper column stills, soft red winter wheat grown in the Canadian heartland, and the unwavering commitment of our Master Distiller to produce a product of the highest quality. Spring Mill Distillery Vodka is a smooth, versatile premium spirit.
The final spirit is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

When tasting Spring Mill Vodka for the first time I served it side by side with a few others as part of one of my Rum Howler Vodka Tastings. The spirits were first served chilled where each one was sipped, then swallowed as a shot. After each vodka had been tested, I served a variety of food which my guests then sampled while intermittently sampling each vodka with different food pairings. The tasting was concluded with a cocktail serving for each spirit and my guests were asked to share their thoughts about each vodka.

This review relates the information gathered at the tasting as well as my experience when tasting the vodka on my own in isolation from the other spirits.

My First Impression  8/10

The sample bottle given to me is shown to the left. 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 Red “Vodka” to the upper part of the label, above the words ‘The Spring Mill Distillery”, and set it horizontally to match the orientation of the rest of the label and the distillery photo. As you can see, the current placement of the word interferes with the view of the old distillery and the bold red font kind of ruins view of the old distillery as you look at the bottle. Placed up above, it would look much better.

Taking a Sip 16/20

When chilled, Spring Mill Vodka has a relatively clean nose. There are light indications of spicy grain and perhaps just a touch of wheat flour on the nose. As the spirit warms the spiciness becomes more intense a light indications of lemon grass and banana also appear.

When sipped (even when chilled), there are further indications of lemon like flavours and the sense of banana is firmer than it was when nosing the glass. I also notice a touch of metallic bitterness in the aftertase as well as perhaps just a little burn creeping in. As the spirit warms both of these indications increase in strength.

Taking a Shot  17/20

When a full swallow is taken “shot style” I note that the spirit has a relatively smooth entry across the palate however, I again notice a light burn after the swallow. There is a nice sweetness which helps to cover over that light metallic bitterness which I noted when sipping the spirit, and this sweetness also alleviates the sensation of burn to a great extent.  It is not unusual for me to prefer a full swallow of vodka to a gentle sip, and that is the case here. There was some ‘roughness’ in the flavour when I was sipping which for the most part has disappeared when taking a full shot. I note that this roughness returns as the spirit warms, the lesson being that we should serve the Spring Mill Vodka well chilled for maximum enjoyment.

Out For Dinner 16.5/20

The next phase of my deliberation was to sample the Spring Mill Vodka as I (and some gathered friends) enjoyed an assortment of different foods.  I had made a Pepperoni Pizza and also bought a Turkish Bread Loaf for the tasting, and my friends had brought food along as well, teriyaki chicken wings, pickled tomatoes, cheese and even some spicy sausages that I grilled on the barbecue. I have learned that a good vodka will act as a palate cleanser allowing each person to enjoy their food a little more thoroughly if preceded by a sip of of vodka.

When I sampled Spring Mill Vodka with the different foods I decided that we had sort of a mixed bag result. I did note that the spicy pizza and sausage seemed to taste better (a very good vodka will usually bring the spicy and salty flavours of the food more into focus helping you to enjoy them). So this was quite positive. However I also noted that the bread and cheese seemed carry some of the metallic aftertaste which I had noted when I had sipped the spirit earlier. I should note that when the spirit was chilled properly, the metallic aftertatse for the most part disappeared. Again this is a vodla which preferred to be served cold.

Cocktail Hour 25/30

I mixed a Vodka Daiquiri (see recipe below) for each of my friends at the tasting, and we all enjoyed the lightly lightly sweet and lightly tart cocktail that resulted when I mixed with Spring Mill. When I tried mixing a Martini on my own I was less enthusiastic. It wasn’t bad by any means, but I think the vodka is more suited to vodka daiquiris and gimlets than to Martinis.

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Final Score 82.5/100

A Solid Vodka which can be served neat as a ‘shot style’ vodka and as well as one which works well in cocktails.

If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Vodka Reviews.

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Civility

2 oz  Vodka
1/2 oz fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz fresh white grapefruit juice
3/8 to 3/4 oz sugar syrup (mix to your preferred level of sweetness)
ice
Lime slice for garnish

Add the four ingredients with ice into a metal shaker
Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain into a suitable cocktail glass
Garnish with a lime slice and enjoy!

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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You may (loosely) interpret my 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 Vodka.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again for cocktails only.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this Vodka in shots, although cocktails are preferable.
85-89    Excellent!  Shots or cocktails!
90-94    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 – 80    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
81 – 89     Silver Medal (Recommended  for shots and mixing cocktails)
90 – 95     Gold Medal (Highly Recommended for Vodka Shots and Sublime Cocktails)
95.5+       Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

 
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