BC Gin Round 8 – Victoria (Champ) VS Ampersand

BC Gin here we go again! Back again from R3-R7 (technically only R7), we have the Victoria Gin (actually V+) up against the award winning Ampersand Gin, made with organic ingredients. Is organic better, or shall the previous dominating champ take it again? Let’s find out!


1) Victoria Gin – Victoria Distillers – 42.5% ABV – 750ml., Sidney, BC, $47 CAD (5/2018) @ BCLiquor

  • new bottle and lower ABV from 2016 onward (was 45%).
  • 2016 Winner, Vancouver International Spirits Competition.
  • 2016 Gold, Beverage Testing Institute Awards.

[VS]

2) Ampersand Gin – Ampersand Distilling Co., 43.8% ABV – 750 ml., Duncan, BC, $40 CAD @craft show (11/2016)

  • Made with organic BC wheat, and 8 organic and wild harvested botanicals.
  • Voted BC’s Best Gin BC Distilled 2016, 2017.

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Criteria:

Nose: VG is rather muted with just a slight mineral alcoholic juniper-ness in there. It’s rather clean though. &G (Ampersand Gin) hits a citrus note, blended with a kind of custardy brightness. Lemon meringue, that’s it, or like a lemon vodka. Both are superbly clean, but &G is just that more interesting. &G has the nose.

Taste & Texture: VG starts off darker juniper berried and almost savoury, tangy soft floral, tongue numbing, throat warmth, medium alcohol detection. &G in contrast is immediately bright lemon balm citrusy from the get go, menthol juniper mids, coriander numbing, lime oils, and a juniper exhale. The alcohol is slightly more aggressive in &G, but that’s to say VG is incredibly smooth; My pre-2016 bottle of VG was much smoother than this new bottle. So, we have dark-noted VG vs bright-noted &G, and I fancy &G, it’s just more inviting. &G the new champ!


Final Notes:

  • Victoria Gin, exhibits darker juniper, star anise notes, less uplifting, but can do well in a cocktail. Still a solid gin.
  • Ampersand Gin is very bright lemon citrus with berry juniper, coriander, lime, but also leaks more alcohol on the palate.
  • Ampersand Gin was $7 cheaper ($40 vs $47 CAD -BCL/@website), not sure about &G now.

Verdict: Both are solid gins, one is dark and one is bright so it really depends on your mood, preference, and usage (sip/cocktail). In this BC gin competition, I like a gin to keep me interested with each and every ongoing sip, and Ampersand gin does it better than Victoria so I’ll be taking it along to duke it out in the next round. Cheers!

BC Gin Round 7 – Victoria (Champ) VS Spirit Bear

Victoria Gin is that you? In the new 2016 bottle and a slightly lower ABV (42.5% now, 45% before), is it still as good as the last tasting? It may have a tough time in fighting off the Spirit Bear from Kelowna. Let’s get to it.


1) Victoria Gin – Victoria Distillers – 42.5% ABV – 750ml., Sidney, BC, $47 CAD (5/2018) @ BCLiquor

  • 10 botanicals including: juniper berries, coriander, angelica, orris root, star anise, orange & lemon peel, cinnamon, and rose petals. (…and the 10th one?)
  • 2016 Winner, Vancouver International Spirits Competition
  • 2016 Gold, Beverage Testing Institute Awards

[VS]

2) Spirit Bear Gin – Urban Distilleries, 40% ABV – 750 ml., Kelowna, BC, $51 CAD @website (5/2018)

  • 10 botanicals, including juniper berry, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, lemon zest, orange zest, angelica root, hop flowers, lavender, and apple.


Criteria:

Nose: Hmm.. first impression of the post-2016-42.5% ABV VG is that the nose is very underwhelming. I get a bit of plasticky alcohol and not much else. At least it isn’t overly aggressive or offensive. SB has a huge lemon balm and lavender notes but is mixed with a more stinging alcohol presence. Spirit Bear definitely noses better.

Taste & Texture: VG, what happened to you? I remember you being clean and finishing nicely with a star anise exhale. Gone is the serenity and replaced with a more aggressively alcoholic front, distracted juniper mids, finishing with star anise and a persistent alcohol and slight rose background. Maybe it was the fact that my previous bottle was old so that the alcohol was less harsh, but I can tell you than a new bottle of VG isn’t as smooth as it should/could be. Anyhow, SB tastes just like the nose, big on lavender, soapy citrusy apple notes, juniper in the mids along with alcoholic heat, coriander herbal finish. Spirit Bear why you so soapy? You leave a astringent bite-into-a-bar of soap kind of mouthfeel at the end of every sip. Man, VG ain’t as super great as the extinct 45% version, but still I prefer it over SB. VG takes it in R7.


Final Notes:

  • Victoria Gin, or V+ is the updated moniker, is still decent, but the juniper, star anise, and rose notes are more muddled and cloudy. Good, but not great.
  • Spirit Bear has a very distinct lavender, tangy lemon balm, and apple notes, but is quite soapy, hence it’s more suitable in a cocktail.
  • Victoria Gin is $4 cheaper ($47 vs $51 CAD -BCL/@website)

Verdict: Victoria Gin, ugh, not that Spirit Bear is bad; It’s just that Spirit Bear is more of cocktail-specific kind of gin in that it can really make something magical when paired with the right ingredients. In this BC Gin battle however, I’m looking for that all-arounder Gin. Unfortunately this new 42.5% isn’t quite as good the the ol’ 45% pre-2016 one, but it’ll have to do. I expect it to be dethroned in the upcoming rounds though.

BC Gin Round 6 – Victoria (Champ) VS Yaletown

Victoria Gin is back at it again entering round 6 against the local downtown Vancouver distillery’s Yaletown Gin. Wax-topped, corked, hand-label, and fancy flat bottled, is Yaletown gin is as good as it looks? Let’s find out how it does against the R3-R5 champ, Victoria Gin.


1) Victoria Gin – Victoria Distillers – 45% ABV – 750ml., Sidney, BC, $47 CAD (4/2018) @ BCLiquor

  • new label and bottle since spring 2016, , victoriadistillers.com
  • 10 botanicals including: juniper berries, coriander, angelica, orris root, star anise, orange & lemon peel, cinnamon, and rose petals. (…and the 10th one?)
  • 2016 Winner, Vancouver International Spirits Competition
  • 2016 Gold, Beverage Testing Institute Awards

[VS]

2) Yaletown Small Batch BC Gin – Yaletown Distilling Company, 42.0% ABV – 375 ml., Vancouver, BC, $27 (11/2015) @ BCLiquor

  • 8 botanicals, including Italian juniper, West African grains of paradise, liquorice root, and bitter almonds.
  • hand numbered bottle and barrel as well as the the distiller’s name


Criteria:

Nose: VG this time around is lemon balm minty, slight alcohol detection, and mostly clean. There’s a subtle but evident rose petal presence. YT is very juniper-forward, nasal-tingly manageable alcohol detection. Pretty typical. When compared side-by-side, VG definitely comes across as more elegant and refined. VG it is.

Taste & Texture: VG is quite minty, with an alcoholic rose petal edge, background juniper and coriander, citrus oils, slow alcoholic heat, and a very aromatic star anise exhale. YT has significantly more heat from start to finish, big berry juniper base accompanied by initial soapiness, woody licorice, spicy grains of paradise, and cinnamon. Sipping one after another, it’s clear that VG is smoother even at a higher ABV, but YT has a tad bit more depth. Still, if I had to choose one to sip, it would be VG.


Final Notes:

  • Victoria Gin has a very pleasant lemon balm minty, rose petal with a star anise exhale profile. Very clean and smooth to sip, also dynamic in a cocktail
  • Yaletown Gin is an enjoyable juniper-forward gin with a mostly clean spicy grains of paradise and cinnamon character. This definitely hold up in a cocktail.
  • Victoria Gin is $7 cheaper ($47 vs $54 (2x$27)@ BCL)

Verdict: Victoria Gin, mainly because of it’s unique (and delicious) floral taste profile. Pair that with being clean and smooth and you have a potential long-time reigning champ, as evidenced by winning rounds 3-6. Yaletown Gin is by no means bad as everybody has their own flavour preferences.

BC Gin Round 5 – Victoria (Champ) VS Long Table

All right 2018, let’s do this! In round 5 of the gin battle we have the 2017 winner Victoria up against the local Long Table located in downtown Vancouver. Both weighing in at 45% ABV and Victoria made with 2 more botanicals than Long Table, which one will dominate the taste buds? Let’s do this, guy.


1) Victoria Gin – Victoria Distillers – 45% ABV – 750ml., Sidney, BC, $46 CAD (1/2018) @ BCLiquor

  • new label and bottle since spring 2016, , victoriadistillers.com
  • 10 botanicals including: juniper berries, coriander, angelica, orris root, star anise, orange & lemon peel, cinnamon, and rose petals. (…and the 10th one?)
  • 2016 Winner, Vancouver International Spirits Competition
  • 2016 Gold, Beverage Testing Institute Awards

[VS]

2) London dry gin – Long Table Distillery – 45% ABV – 750ml., Vancouver, BC, $53 (1/2018) @ BCLiquor


Criteria:

Nose: VG has a medium cleanliness with flavours of juniper and bright citrus emerging from the detectable alcohol. LT is duller with rounded edges, slightly creamy with grassier notes. The LT alcohol detection is much more apparent with just a bit of harshness on the nose. Although VG comes across as slightly soapyVG is the winner.

Taste & Texture: VG, upon the first sip, the beautifully aromatic star anise jumps out, fruity juniper in the mids with strong citrus overtones backing it up until the finish. LT despite being a London Dry style, surprisingly comes across as sweeter up front, thicker viscosity, muddly grassy juniper, licorice-coriander alcohol numbing mids, mild cinnamon, citrus undertones, slight nutty – almost salty finish. LT displays a pleasant balanced roundness. In terms of explicit and distinguishable flavour, Victoria takes the cake. VG wins.


Final Notes:

  • Victoria Gin is much brighter, thinner in mouthfeel, soapier, has a bit more roughness, but is overall has and displays strong notes of star anise and orange citrus.
  • Long Table London Dry Gin is creamier, showcases balanced ingredients of grassy juniper and mild citrus
  • Victoria Gin is $7 cheaper ($46 vs $53 @ BCL)

Verdict: Victoria Gin is my preference and winner. Nevertheless Long Table London Dry Gin is quality gin but it doesn’t have any standout flavours despite being balanced.

 

Spiced Rum Round 4 – Whaler’s (Champ) VS Elements Eight (Challenger)


1) Whaler’s Spiced Rum – Bishop Wines & Spirits (Mira Loma, CA, USA), 35% ABV – 750ml$39.50 CAD @ Liquor Depot Dilworth in Edmonton, AB (7/2010 price)

  • “Made from Hawaii’s legendary recipe”

VS

2) Elements Eight Spiced Rum – Elements Eight Rum Company Ltd. (London, England, UK), 40% ABV – 700ml$59 CAD (after 10% off) @ Sherbrooke Liquor in Edmonton, AB (3/2011 price)

(left)(right)

  • 8 step process: 1) Terroir (St. Lucia climate) -> 2) Cane -> 3) Water (tropical water) -> 4) Fermentation (3 strains of yeast) -> 5) Distillation (Kentucky Bourbon Vendome pot still, using “heart only) -> 6) Tropical Ageing (American oak Bourbon barrels) -> 7) Blending (10+ single rums) -> 8) Filtration
  • 2x the price point of “standard” rums ($60 vs $30)
  • Fancy and classy bottle

Criteria

Nose:

  • Whaler’s (WH): 50/50 blend of vanilla-molasses & alcohol detection
  • Elements Eight (E8): nutmeg, orange, coffee nib, biscuity liquid toffee
  • E8 is much cleaner and more enticing

Taste & Texture:

  • WH: thinnish, a mix of cinnamon/nutmeg with vanilla and alcohol at the start, medium-high heat with dryness as the finish
  • E8: explicitly full-bodied. Slick, big orange coffee up front (much like Pyrat Rum Cast 1623), clove, cascading waves of controlled molasses sweetness, cocoa, subdued medium alcoholic heat. Finally a good sipping spiced rum.
  • WH: watery feel, vanilla, dull. E8: oily, big orange coffee bean, smooth rounded sipper. E8 is FAR superior.

In a Rum & Coke

  • Whaler’s & Coke is cola-caramel forward with dry lime juice and oils in the mids to finish.
  • Elements Eight & Coke is aggressively sweet sticky-tart with a incompatible cloying orange flavour in the mids, finishing unclean with cocoa-cola.
  • Whaler’s is more enjoyable in a cola mixer.

Final Notes:

  • Whaler’s has a decent of mix of cinnamon/nutmeg, toffee and vanilla but is thin and has harsher detectable alcohol.
  • Elements Eight has a luscious rush of orange nutty coffee bean, tanginess, and toffee-cocoa.

WINNER = the challenger Elements Eight. You can taste the rich difference in quality. Finally, a tasty sipping spiced rum that has left the rest behind (Sailor Jerry’s, Devil’s Triangle, Captain Morgan’s, Whaler’s), but less than perfect in a Rum & Coke.

Spiced Rum Round 3 – Captain Morgan (Champ) VS Whaler’s (Challenger)

2 Years later and never too late for Round 3. This time Captain M is going up against it’s piratey competitor Whaler’s. Which one will win the booty? Which one will walk the plank? Let’s find out. R2 here and R1 here.


1) Original Spiced Rum – Captain Morgan (Diageo), 35% ABV – 750ml, (Global), $31.61 CAD @ BC Liquor Stores (11/15/2017 price)

wpid-img_20150628_002842.jpg

  • blend of Caribbean and Canadian rum
  • in colour (but still rather light), aged in oak barrels for up to 1 year. Caribbean spices used (wiki)

2) Whaler’s Spiced Rum – Bishop Wines & Spirits (Mira Loma, CA, USA), 35% ABV – 750ml$39.50 CAD @ Liquor Depot Dilworth in Edmonton, AB (7/2010 price)

  • “Made from Hawaii’s legendary recipe”

Criteria

Nose:

  • Captain Morgan (CM) has an noticeable alcoholic nasal edge, vanilla, and butterscotch. Semi-smooth.
  • Whaler’s (WH) is much more subdued and clean. Bubblegum, a touch of cinnamon, and cola notes emerge in the mids and just a bit of alcohol detection emerges at the finish.
  • CM = vanilla+alcohol WH = bubblegum+cola. Winner = Whaler’s, simply cleaner.

Taste & Texture:

  • CM: Too thin flavoured to enjoy as a sipper, plus the alcohol detection kicks in almost from the very start. The vanilla is very faint but I must say I just noticed a peppery spiciness from the mids to finish that is decently pleasant. Tastes cheap because it is.
  • WH: Thicker on the palate, bringing a much more composed and complete profile. Brighter and a sharper bite at the start, while drying out by the finish. Cinnamon, cola, and nutmeg along with a bit of caramel comprise of the discernible flavours. There is medium throat heat and warmth that lingers. Flavours are muted, decent but not great.
  • CM = thin-bodied vanilla+butterscotch, WH = cola+alcohol throat heat, but complete.

In a Rum & Coke

  • Captain & Coke is smooth with lots of cola caramel and lime oils painted on the palate. Somewhat cloying at the finish.
  • Whaler’s & Coke is a touch sharper and black pepper spicier, finishing drier with lingering vanilla notes.

Final Notes:

  • Captain Morgan is smoother, cheaper, and more accessible.
  • Whaler’s has more complexity and spicy length, but comes at a price of more alcohol heat.
  • Both come across as imperfect spiced rums.

WINNER = the challenger Whaler’s Spiced Rum, offering more complexity, balance, and refined mixability.