The cure for a difficult week is surely a vacation at the lake – a weekend away with pure sunshine, and rotation between crisp, refreshing cool lake dips and sunny, warm wind. What would you give for that feeling at the end of a horrendous day, or in the middle of a cold downpour or the short days of winter? Enter Okanagan Spirits Gin.
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.
In honor of Father’s Day I wanted to throw together a list of local gins that you might want to share with your Dad, your friends who may be Dads, or just the Dad-like people in your life. If the Dad(s) in your life are anything like mine, gin is not necessarily the top of his list – but here are a few local(ish) suggestions that any non-gin-loving Dad may truly enjoy.
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.
Oranges are such bright, happy fruits – I know some people hate them, but they are one of my favorites, and seem to be everywhere right now. I’ve been tasting gins recently (as I do!) and became aware with all of the oranges hanging about that I’ve only been identifying citrus strength and nature in my notes as a part of a flavor profile rather than by specific fruit, and could use some home schooling in the citrus peel department.
There are so many citrus options in gins today: lemon, bergamot, grapefruit, tangerine, orange, bitter orange, seville orange and lime are the ones I’ve seen listed, but there are likely others as well. Oranges seemed like a logical place to start.
Edinburgh gin, like many of the newer gins, takes advantage of local botanicals along with traditional botanicals to create a unique regional gin that is not completely true to the London dry style. However, it is easy to tell that the distillery paid homage to the style without completely dismissing it.
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.