When I returned from the UK in Dec 2012 I was ecstatic to find out that a premium, small-batch gin was being produced locally in Victoria, BC. In 2008 the Victoria Spirits distillers set out to interpret gin in a more modern way, combining their love of Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray gin with their collective backgrounds in science, bartending and in the culinary world to produce a beautiful, distinct, new “modern” gin. Arguably they were the first in Canada to bring a gin with such an innovative flavor profile to the market, paving the way for the local gin market to expand creatively.
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.