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.

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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

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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 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.

 

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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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