BC Gin Round 4 – Victoria (Champ) VS Queensborough (Challenger)

Welcome welcome welcome, and welcome again to the fourth round of the BC gin battle. Up first we have the newly crowned champ from R3, Victoria Gin up against Queensborough (QB) small batch dry gin. QB is the updated and permanent gin the liquor portfolio of Central City Brewers + Distillers, their older gin being Seraph Gin which lost out in R2 here.


1) Victoria Gin – Victoria Distillers – 45% ABV – 750ml., Sidney, BC, $46 CAD (8/2017) @ 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) Queensborough small batch dry gin – Central City Brewers + Distillers – 43% ABV – 750ml., Surrey, BC, $46 (9/2017) @ BCLiquor

  • juniper sourced from BC interior, spruce tips from Vancouver Island.
  • 2017 Double gold @ San Diego Intl spirits competition
  • 2017 Double gold @ San Fran World spirits competition
  • etc etc a few more accolades

Criteria:

Nose: VG is clean, no doubt about it. There are hints of citrus, and soap, with some juniper in the backend. QB is reminds me of the banana-rose like quality of Wallflower, but only half the intensity and leaning more toward the rose. There’s a sense of the green spruce tips in there as well. VG = star anise, QB = spruce mineral. Both are clean and enticing.

Taste & Texture: VG hits you up front with a soft sweetness, followed by juniper, cinnamon, star anise, big licorice, a bit of citrus, and some medium throat heat – overall, clean flavours and smooth transitions. QB‘s entry is very bright and juicy with juniper berry at the start but there’s immediate alcohol detection and invasive heat from the get go. VG takes a different approach by gradually building up the heat. In any case, QB showcases green spruce, jasmine, mild rose and citrus notes, and slight licorice juniper at the finish. As a sipper, VG by TKO smoothness, hands down.


Final Notes:

  • Victoria Gin, the winner of rounds 3 and 4 is cool and composed which is remarkable considering its 45% ABV. It will make a smooth cocktail.
  • Queensborough Gin displays a superb bright fruity spruce-juniper-jasmine profile that would make any cocktail unique and flavourful, but there is an overall alcoholic harshness.

Title retained = Victoria Gin by Victoria Distillers, but Queensborough is still an excellent and recommended gin

 

BC Gin Round 3 – Wallflower (Champ) VS Victoria (Challenger)

What’s up hearmenow, this is the 3rd round of the intoxicating BC Gin battle. Winning rounds 1&2 we have again, Wallflower Gin now up against an Victoria Gin sporting a pre-2016 dated bottle and label.


1) Wallflower Gin – Odd Society Spirits, 44% ABV – 750ml., Vancouver, BC, ~$50 CAD @Distillery

  • batch #, year, hand labeled
  • real wood cork top, synthetic rubber plug
  • hefty bottle, unique shape – ++ great. Sticker label – hand numbered and year
  • maceration AND vapour extraction used to obtain flavour
  • 100% BC grown barley, west coast and international botanicals

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[VS]

2) Victoria Gin – Victoria Distillers – 45% ABV – 750ml., Sidney, BC, $46 CAD (8/2017) @ 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

Criteria:

Nose: WF has a unique ‘milky banana-jackfruit‘ aroma shared by the juniper. There’s also a bit of cinnamon/nutmeg going on. VG is extremely citrusy peel bright, and floral with a kiss of rose petal at the tail. It’s much milder in aromatic intensity and reminds me a bit of liquid detergent, but not in a bad way. Winner = VG has a superb cleanliness & refined purity, whereas WF is aromatic but has more nasal burn.

Taste & Texture: WF attacks with syrupy juniper, cinnamon, licorice, and a throat and tongue numbing warm coriander. On the opposite end of the spectrum VG is lighter on the palate starting off with lemon peel, soft juniper mids and a massively clean star anise exhale, and slight notes of rose petal.


Final Notes:

  • Wallflower Gin is thicker in viscosity, has a floral juniperness, and a bit of elderflower at the exhale.
  • Victoria Gin has won 2 awards and here’s why: clean from start to finish, purity of flavour showcasing citrus peel, star anise, and floral overtones all around.

New champ crowned = Victoria Gin by Victoria Distillers

Kentucky Bourbon Round 3 – Jefferson’s Reserve VS Maker’s 46 (Champ)

It’s been a few years since I’ve done a Kentucky Bourbon battle so let’s get to it! The winner of the previous round was Maker’s 46 and now it’s up against Jefferson’s Reserve.


1) Jefferson’s Reserve (Challenger) (Hand numbered 1800/2400 bottles, batch #90) – 45.1% ABV – 750ml, (Louisville, KY, USA), $73 CAD (5/2011) @ BCLiquor Stores

  • a blend of 4 bourbons of differing ages
  • the real wood bottle stopper and rubber cork came apart after the 1st opening, 5 years after I purchased the bottle…

2) Maker’s 46 – 47% ABV – 750ml, (Loretto, KY, USA), $60 CAD @ BC Liquor Stores

  • made with corn, red winter wheat, barley malt.
  • patented hand-dipped wax sealed top
  • 10 toasted French oak staves are added to the barrel and aged for 2-3 months to impart a spicier, more intense caramel and vanilla flavour profile while maintaining their signature “tip the of tongue” finish.
  • Back_To_The_Barrel_2_266

Criteria:

Nose: Jefferson’s Reserve (JR) has a subdued nasal tingliness with gentle toffee-caramel and rubbing alcohol. Only mildly offensive. Maker’s 46 (M46) is about 2 levels more aggressive in both nasal attack and aromatics. JR is definitely more approachable whilst you could argue that M46 has more character. Verdict = JR edges it out, the caramelness is more appealing.

Taste & Texture: One sip of JR, and then a sip of M46 – wow the difference is like night and day. JR comes off as a thin-but-smooth with toasted light caramel-oak, sweet honey, cinnamon, mild vanilla, lacking length and punch. M46 is thicker on the palate, has a bigger caramel profile whilst being more numbing and carrying more heat. JR clearly has more sippable subtle complexity while M46 comes across as bold and harsh, more suitable in a cocktail. Verdict = JR comes across as more refined and palatable


Final Notes:

  • Jefferson’s Reserve has a sweet & SMOOTH, toasted light oak, caramel, honey, sippable quality
  • Maker’s 46 has a straightforward throat-burning, tongue numbing, oak, vanilla, spicy, off-dry, and harsh alcohol.
  • Jefferson’s Reserve to sip, Maker’s 46 in a cocktail

WINNER = Jefferson’s Reserve

London Dry Gin Round 8 – Fords (Champ) VS Bloom (Challenger)

Here’s another 2017 round of the gin battles, making this Round 8 to date. We have the previous, newly crowned champ Fords versus the beautifully bottled Bloom.


[CHAMPION from Round 7, winning out over Pink 47]

1) Ford’s Gin London Dry – 45% ABV – 750ml., The 86 Co. (England), $43.70 CAD,  Jan 2017 – BC Liquor Stores

  • distilled by 8th gen Master distiller Charles Maxwell and Simon Ford of The 86 Co.
  • 9 botanicals: Italian juniper, Romanian coriander seed, Spanish lemon peel, Haitian/Moroccan bitter orange peel, Turkish grapefruit peel, Chinese jasmine, Italian/Moroccan orris powder, Polish angelica, Indonesian cassia
  • botanicals steeped for 15 hours, cooked for 5 hours

(right)wp-1484984451298.jpg(left)wp-1484984459747.jpg

<VS> Challenger:

2) Bloom Premium London Dry Gin – 40% ABV – 750ml., G&J Greenall (England), $53 CAD,  sometime in 2015-16 – BC Liquor Stores

  • 29 international awards since 2008 (bloomgin.com)
  • created by one of world’s few female master gin distiller, Joanne Moore
  • includes juniper berries from Tuscany, chamomile from France, honeysuckle and pomelo from China
  • affinity for strawberry, rose, lemon, and pear when creating cocktails
  • quality wood top-authentic cork stopper (as opposed to being a cheap aluminum screw top cap)

(right)(cork stopper)

<Criteria>

Nose: Ford exhibits a mostly clean grassy-mineral juniper body with hints of its unique ingredient jasmine, with a bit of alcohol detection at the deep backend. Bloom… what?? had to do a double take; Extremely different with a chamomile-honeysuckle-soft pomelo identity, whilst being very clean from start to finish. It’s a close one but I prefer the brightness of Bloom. Bloom takes it.

Taste & Texture: Ford comes out swinging with an aggressive tangy alcoholic medium harshness, thicker oily viscosity, cinnamon-juniper-jasmine, prickly numbing tongue, menthol throat warmth finish. Blooms is less thick than its competitor, floral-honeysuckle and chamomile up front, light-medium alcohol burn mixed with pomelo citrus while juniper kicks in at the late mids until the finish. Very mild throat burn and a rather clean but unfortunately short finish. There’s about a medium level of depth of flavour for Bloom but the duration of flavour seems too short. I definitely enjoy the flavour, but Ford is simply a more robust gin. Ford gots it.

Final Notes:

  • Ford has a +body, +length, +depth, but unfortunately -smoothness and +burn = will work better in a cocktail with many ingredients
  • Bloom has a unique floral-citrus flavour profile but a weaker body = suitable in a cocktail with few ingredients
  • I would stock both, as both are delicious

but if I had to pick a winner to go to the next round, WINNER = Fords Gin

London Dry Gin Round 7 – Pink 47 (New Champion) VS Fords (Challenger)

Let’s kick off the start of a new year by welcoming the 7th Round of the London Dry Gin Battles. We have the newly crowned Pink 47 going up against The 86 Co.’s Fords London dry.


[CHAMPION from Round 6, recrowned after losing out on round 5, Pink 47]

1) Pink 47 – 47% ABV – 700ml., Old St. Andrews (UK), ~$40 CAD no longer sold at BC Liquor Stores

  • beautiful diamond shaped bottle – inspired by the legendary Khavaraya pink diamond
  • 4x distilled
  • recipe includes 12 botanicals: juniper berries (Tuscany), coriander seeds (Morocco), two types of Angelica roots (Saxony and ?), lemon and orange peel (Spain), orris root (Italy), almonds (Spain), licorice roots (China), cassia bark (Indochina), nutmeg (West Africa) – [actually that’s only 11…]
  • accolades include: International Spirits Challenge 2012 Gold, 69th 2012 Annual Wine & Spirits WSWA Silver, 5***** rating from Paul Pacult 2012, etc, etc, (18 awards and counting)

[VS]

[CHALLENGER]

2) Ford’s Gin London Dry – 45% ABV – 750ml., The 86 Co. (England), $43.70 CAD,  Jan 2017 – BC Liquor Stores

  • distilled by 8th gen Master distiller Charles Maxwell and Simon Ford of The 86 Co.
  • 9 botanicals: Italian juniper, Romanian coriander seed, Spanish lemon peel, Haitian/Moroccan bitter orange peel, Turkish grapefruit peel, Chinese jasmine, Italian/Moroccan orris powder, Polish angelica, Indonesian cassia
  • botanicals steeped for 15 hours, cooked for 5 hours

(right)wp-1484984451298.jpg(left)wp-1484984459747.jpg

Criteria:

Nose: Keeping in mind that almond, licorice, and nutmeg differ in ingredients for P47, I get half juniper-half licorice floral harshness. While it’s not exactly unpleasant, I find the alcohol detection slightly disengaging. Fords main difference is its use of grapefruit peel and jasmine. Upon nosing Fords I get a very clean, composed and mellow sweet grapefruit-lemon citrus – virtually no nasal burn whatsoever; Impressive since it is just 2% ABV lower. Fords wins the nosing challenge.

Taste & Texture: Sipping P47 for the first time in 2017, I remember why I dethroned T.10 in round 6. It comes out with a huge alcoholic intensity backup up by a very lengthy sweet juniper base, prickly licorice and subtle citrus mids, and incredible throat heat at the finish. My intuition says that this will make a sturdy gin base in a cocktail. Onto Fords, slightly thicker in viscosity and wow, I’m really digging the juniper/cinnamon->grapefruit-lemon-orange->sleeper jasmine notes at the finish. Amazingly the alcohol harshness stays for the most part, hidden in the background so you are able to concentrate on teasing apart the individual botanicals. Although P47 has intensity and length, Fords takes it with its composed clean elegance.

Final Notes:

  • P47 exhibits intense juniper sweet, alcoholic soft citrus licorice, a reliable gin-cocktail base spirit
  • Fords showcases a burst of grapefruit juniper citrus with a subtle jasmine backend
  • Both have their place when concocting cocktails; P47 for cocktails with numerous ingredients, Fords to accentuate either the citrus or spotlight the jasmine in it.
  • As I mentioned at the start of Round 1 in the Gin battles, every gin has its own unique recipe, therefore each is more suitable according to the cocktail you wish to create. Thus, all gins are WINNERS! (actually there are probably some awful bathtub gins out there…)

but for this round 7, WINNER = Fords London Dry Gin

Extra battle – [T.10 VS Fords citrus battle]

Outcome: T.10 grapefruit/lime/orange/chamomile VS Fords grapefruit/lemon/orange/jasmine = T.10 is much more grapefruity citrus forward but with it comes a lot of aggressive alcohol at 47.3% ABV. It’s quite suitable in a lower ABV cocktail. Fords is much more tame and around a 65:35 – juniper:citrus ratio. I’d pick T.10 but obviously only for citrus-oriented gin cocktails.

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BC Gin Round 2 – Wallflower (Champ) VS Seraph (Challenger)

Here’s the 2nd round of the BC Gin battle. We have the winner from last round, Wallflower Gin up against a now discontinued bottle of Seraph Gin. Central City has replaced the latter  with Queensborough Gin, which will be battling in a later round. Let’s get to it!


1) Wallflower Gin – Odd Society Spirits, 44% ABV – 750ml., Vancouver, BC, ~$50 CAD @Distillery

  • batch #, year, hand labeled
  • real wood cork top, synthetic rubber plug
  • hefty bottle, unique shape – ++ great. Sticker label – hand numbered and year
  • maceration AND vapour extraction used to obtain flavour
  • 100% BC grown barley, west coast and international botanicals

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[VS]

2) Seraph Gin – Central City Brewers & Distillers – 40% ABV – 750ml., Surrey, BC, $35 CAD (10/2015) @ BCLiquor

  • no longer sold (5/2017), info referenced from thespiritofbc.com
  • glass + rubber stopper = unique
  • 100% BC malted barley, 2x distilled, 1st time through column, 2nd in a copper pot with “hanging basket” method of botanical flavour infusion

Criteria:

Nose: Starting out with Wallflower (WF), it gives me a gentle creaminess with soapy banana and juniper, followed by sweet ethyl alcohol, just a bit of agitated nasal tingliness and coming out rather clean at the finish. Seraph has an interesting jackfruit-guyabano nose, but is slightly intruded upon by a harsher alcoholic backdrop. WF = brighter, soapy | Seraph = darker, jackfruit. Winner = Wallflower, it’s more inviting.

Taste & Texture: WF comes out with bright soapy juniper, cinnamon bark, and some spiciness in the backend. Seraph feels much thicker in the mouth, and gives an almost salty-savour impression. It’s somewhat coconut plasticky but in an okay kind of way, mild juniper in the mids, finishing with harsher alcohol. Soap VS plastic, take your pick. I choose soapy WF, bright beats dull.

Final Notes:

  • Wallflower Gin exhibits notes of soapy juniper and slight floral brightness
  • Seraph Gin is darker and has flavours of plasticky banana.

Winner of RD1 and RD2 = Wallflower Gin by Odd Society Spirits

BC Gin Round 1 – Wallflower VS Dragon Mist

Welcome to the opening round of the gin battle featuring gin made locally (for me at least) in British Columbia, Canada. On the left we have Wallflower Gin produced by Odd Society Spirits, located in East Vancouver. And on the right is Dragon Mist Gin distilled in Surrey. Both are priced roughly the same, in the lower premium gin market.


1) Wallflower Gin – Odd Society Spirits, 44% ABV – 750ml., Vancouver, BC, ~$50 CAD @Distillery

  • batch #, year, hand labeled
  • real wood cork top, synthetic rubber plug
  • hefty bottle, unique shape – ++ great. Sticker label – cheap
  • maceration AND vapour extraction used to obtain flavour
  • 100% BC grown barley, west coast and international botanicals

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[VS]

2) Dragon Mist Gin – Dragon Mist Distillery – 46% ABV – 750ml., Surrey, BC, ~$40 CAD, @Distillery

  • comes in a “giftable”, albeit cheap paper carton box
  • aluminum wrapped synthetic rubber plug
  • frosty bottle with perma-stuck on imperfect sticker labels – somewhat cheap looking
  • made with wheat grown in Dawson Creek, glacial water, west coast botanicals such as:
  • juniper berry, apple mint, elderberry, orange blossom, fennel, chamomile, clover, rose petal, honey bush, spearmint, orange peel

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Criteria:

Nose: WF has a good mix of juniper, citrus, floral, and some noticeable soapiness. It’s quite rounded, medium intensity, but gives a bit of a sniffing headache after multiple quaffs. Still, I like the cleanliness and purity of the aromas. DM on the other hand smells somewhat offensive – like there’s something in there that shouldn’t be. It has a sort of buttery paint thinner chemical harshness, with the ethyl nasal burn creeping in the mids to the finish. None of the advertised botanicals are present in the nosing, what a shame. WF wins by a landslide.

Taste & Texture: WF starts out with some mild juniper sweetness, followed by a some citrus oils, more juniper, and then some anise-peppery notes. There’s also a slight background creaminess which I enjoyed. It’s quite smooth as a sipper with the alcoholic heat and medium burn showing up near the finish. Light grassy/pine exhale as well for WF. DM is slightly thinner on the palate and much more jagged and rough. Just one sip and the difference in refinement and enjoyment is like night and day. DM is very aggressive with its alcohol presence despite being only 2% ABV higher at 46%. Beneath all the harshness are pronounced notes of mint, slight fennel, orange blossom, peppery, and sadly nail polish. Need I say more? Wallflower is much, much, much more agreeable.

Final Notes:

  • Based on taste alone, Wallflower = B and Dragon Mist = D+
  • Wallflower exhibits flavours of sweet juniper, soapy citrus, mild grassiness
  • Dragon Mist displays plasticky alcohol harshness, mint, throat numbing spiciness.

Winner = Wallflower Gin by Odd Society Spirits