When I lived abroad, one of the things I missed most was being outside in forests and by oceans on a regular basis. We take these things for granted here in BC, but fortunately, Phillips Brewery’s Fermentorium has seemingly found a way to bottle this awesomeness in their Stump Gin.
I feel incredibly lucky to have access to this gin. A locally produced gin (Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island), from scratch, using local suppliers for the wheat and classic botanicals, Ampersand is an organic gin that is absolutely gorgeous both on its own and in mixed drinks. It is possibly the most classic yet versatile gin I have tasted.
In a bit of a rarity in the pacific northwest, where showcasing local botanicals and flavor profiles seems to be the dominant style, Long Table, based out of Vancouver, is making a local London Dry style gin that I was keen to try. With a recent silver medal award at the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits competition for their London Dry, and a Gold medal at the same competition for their Cucumber Gin, Long Table’s gins are certainly earning some well-deserved attention.
St. George’s Terroir Gin is one that has sparked a lot of interest and discussion, with its unique, characteristic feature being that it is intended to evoke the sensation of walking through a coastal rainforest. Definitely not a traditional London dry type gin, its douglas fir botanical dominates any juniper flavors but is carefully balanced with very light citrus and lingering, baseline savory spice flavors. Terroir’s listed botanicals include juniper, douglas fir, fennel, coriander, bay laurel and sage, though it is indicated that there are 12 botanicals total, and the website describes a complex, multi-step distillation process that certainly contributes to the gin’s uniqueness.
The spruce adds a fresh, bright note to the gins. While this showed up as peppy and in your face in the Rogue Spruce, it perfectly complemented the delicacy of the Okanagan Spirits gin and rounded it out in the same crisp way as biting into an apple compliments the apple flavour. In contrast, the Victoria Spirits gin seemed spicy, warm, slightly sweet, and nostalgic in the same way drinking an old-fashioned soda does (I feel like I have a good guess for the “secret ingredient”), but did not have the same fresh greenness as the other two.
Spruce is probably as pacific northwestern of a botanical that you can find. To me it’s not an intuitive choice for gin as the immediate thought that came to my mind is that it would compete with juniper, however it is a characteristic feature of the local geography, and is a great choice if you think of it in the context of local, craft distilleries. Intrigued, in a last minute split decision, I chose Rogue Spruce over Aviation as my duty-free on my last Portland trip. Fast forward to a weekend trip last month, while sat down at a beautiful dinner at Sooke Harbour House, I was presented with a G&T with Okanagan Spirits gin, and was captured by its subtle complexity. On purchasing my own bottle I was inspired to read that spruce was one of its botanicals.
My personal history is irrevocably tied with gin. As a kid growing…