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
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.
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.
- 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.