How we pick our products
The gin-tonic is one of the most fashionable and recognisable drinks, nobody can deny this fact. However, this is not the only drink where gin is the centre of attention. In todays Canadian market gin lovers are in luck because they have a huge selection of this alcoholic spirit to choose from. Canadians are able to choose between the most classic flavours and the new trends in gin with fruity flavours and surprising colours. Gin, without a doubt has become the drink of choice for many Canadians.
With such a large selection of this iconic drink, it’s become really easy to be able to choose the one that best suits your preferences and your palate – there’s a lot to choose from! It doesn’t matter if you like to drink it dry or if you prefer your gin with some tonic, before choosing, you should know the fundamental characteristics and considerations of gin. If you want to find the best gin on the market, keep reading our guide.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 The best selection of Canadian distilled gin
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about gin
- 3.1 What is gin exactly ?
- 3.2 Where is gin made?
- 3.3 Since when is Canadian gin a thing?
- 3.4 How is gin made?
- 3.5 What is gin made out of?
- 3.6 How many types of gin are there?
- 3.7 How to drink gin?
- 3.8 How do I distinguish a premium gin?
- 3.9 How many botanical bases for gin are there?
- 3.10 What other uses does gin have?
- 4 Purchase Criteria
- 5 Summary
- Gin was traditionally manufactured in the Netherlands and England. The defining flavour of gin—no matter where in the world it’s made—is juniper berry, which traditionally comes from Europe. Dutch gin is known for being of stronger and harsher taste.
- A new generation of small-batch artisan distilleries is putting a Canadian twist on gin, introducing botanicals from their own provinces, regions and back-yards.
- There are many types of gins, all of them are infused with flavours and aromas. There are those made with citrus, fruity, herbal, spicy and/or floral aromas. Keep this in mind before choosing a gin.
- Unlike most spirits, gin is not usually drunk alone. Although the taste of this alcoholic spirit is very individual and pleasant, it’s not often drank straight. Instead, its flavour is ideal to be used as a base for cocktails and blends. It lends that fresh, green, slightly resinous flavour that makes such satisfying summer cocktails.
The best selection of Canadian distilled gin
Gin is a drink with a lot of personality, choosing the right one is complicated. Here is a selection of the best Canadian gins, which range from traditional — juniper forward — to more modern — ripe, with a variety of other expressive botanicals like frankincense and myrrh (yes, there’s a Christmas gin!). In the end it will depend on your palate and on how you plan consume it. All the products on this ranking are made locally around the entire country. We hope that in this list of products you will find the most suitable drink for you.
Add a splash of national pride to your liquor cabinet with any of these five outstanding Canadian gins:
- 66 Gilead Loyalist Gin — Bloomfied Ontario
- Victoria Gin — Vancouver Island, British Columbia
- Urban Distilleries Spirit Bear Gin — Kelowna, British Columbia
- Schramm Organic Gin — Pemberton, British Columbia
- Ungava Gin — Quebec
66 Gilead Loyalist Gin — Bloomfied Ontario
Located on an 80-acre farm in Prince Edward County, Ontario, 66 Gilead Distillery named its Loyalist gin after the United Empire Loyalists who settled in this area. Its distillers use their wheat vodka as a base for this gin, which imparts a distinct aroma and flavour of freshly baked bread.
In choosing the blend of botanicals, the owners attempted to use items that would have been available to the loyalist settlers at the time: juniper, aromatic hops, coriander and lavender grown on their own farm. 66 Gilead suggests mixing 1-1/2 ounces Loyalist Gin with a 1/2 ounce each of mint syrup and lime juice, garnished with cucumber slices to create a “Cool Cucumber”.
Victoria Gin — Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Launched in 2008, family-owned Victoria Spirits claims to have produced Canada’s first premium gin. While that claim may be open to debate, one thing is certain: Victoria Gin is insanely delicious. The botanicals used were wild-gathered and include some interesting ingredients such as orris root, cinnamon bark and rose petals, in addition to classic botanicals such as juniper and orange peel.
Victoria Spirits also produces an excellent line of cocktail bitters under the name Twisted and Bitter. These bitters come in three flavours: orange, grapefruit and rosemary, and black pepper. Its website features an interesting recipe for a “Dutch Old-Fashioned”, which requires pouring 2 ounces of Victoria Gin over a sugar cube soaked in orange bitters, muddling and stirring over ice.
Urban Distilleries Spirit Bear Gin — Kelowna, British Columbia
Urban Distilleries has been a labour of love for owner Mike Urban since its inception in 2007. Spirit Bear is their signature line of spirits, named after the official mammal of British Columbia. Although this gin’s frosted bottle and ugly label may be off putting at first, its explosive aromatics and depth of flavour quickly make up for its aesthetic shortcomings. Urban Distiliries recommends trying this refreshing, citrus forward gin in a Negroni or a classic martini.
Schramm Organic Gin — Pemberton, British Columbia
Recently named one of the 10 best new American gins by drinkspirits.com, this unique gin is crafted by master distiller Tyler Schramm using organically farmed ingredients. Schramm stands out for a number of reasons, first of which is that its base spirit is distilled from potatoes rather than the blend of grains used by most distilleries.
The potato base gives Schramm an unmistakably earthy edge, which is complimented masterfully by a savoury combination of eight botanicals including rosemary, cinnamon bark and hops. This gin has enough personality to stand on its own, and is delicious simply shaken over ice and strained with a twist of lemon.
Ungava Gin — Quebec
Ungava’s claim to fame, outside of the myriad of awards it has won since its release, is its use of six unique botanicals native to the Canadian Arctic — juniper, cloudberry, wild rose hips and crowberry. One of this gin’s distinguishing features is its odd (and potentially repulsive) colour that, by the admission of the president of the company himself, resembles “vitamin enriched urine”.
Once you get past the unusual yellow exterior, however, this gin has lovely aromatics and a balanced profile. This spirit is ideal for everything from cocktails to gin and tonic. It should also be noted that is one of the best value for your money, being the most affordable product in our ranking.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about gin
Gin is a drink with a long history and tradition. Originally from London, this is one of the best-selling alcoholic spirits in the world. Keep reading in order to better understand this drink, in this section we have gathered all the relevant information you need in order to make a good purchase. It also includes all the most frequently asked questions from users.
What is gin exactly ?
In order to obtain the denomination of gin, it must have the taste of nebron. There are several denominations, depending on the concentration and method of fermentation. This intricate process is responsible for giving life to the gin that is famous in the classic gin-tonic, one of the most drunk combinations in the world. Gin-tonic is simply made by mixing tonic water and gin, and adding ice.
Where is gin made?
Nevertheless, in every place, gin was distilled in their own specific way. For example, in Holland and Germany it was made by distilling steam from pure alcohols. Whereas in England it’s done in the traditional way. In Plymouth, sulphuric acid was added, Bombay Sapphire is flavoured with almonds, liquorice and lily of Florence root. What we’re trying to say is that every gin is different.
Since when is Canadian gin a thing?
These local distillers are blessed with an outstanding mix of natural resources like abundant grain, pure water sources and local botanicals. Canadian nature really favours the creation of organic and natural products. It’s no wonder that the best of these locally-produced gins are beginning to gain international recognition and will only continue to improve from here.
How is gin made?
British gin on the other hand, is produced by rectifying a mixture of high alcohol content, so that it loses aroma and flavour. This is reduced with water and left in containers with flavours and aromatic agents. Then it’s re-distilled — After several reductions, a product with an alcohol content of between 40 and 47 percent is achieved.
What is gin made out of?
The most popular gin is made from sloes. These are the types of gin we usually mix with tonic and other drinks to create cocktails. Distilleries mix the original product with distinctive and unique flavouring agents. In England strawberries are used, mixed in with other ingredients. Among the most popular are: angelica root, almonds, coriander, cardamom, cassia root, aniseed or orange peel, to name a few… Lemon or cilantro is also used to give a touch of citrus.
How many types of gin are there?
- London Dry: London Dry, originating in…England…but produced all over the world. It is very dry, light bodied and pungent – this is what most people think of when they think of gin—and it’s what you typically get in a G&T or martini. You know the stuff: Beefeater, Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire. Juniper is the most dominant flavour in this type of gin. Nonetheless, some London Dry gins steep fresh citrus peels or dried peels before distillation and that gives them a bright, citrus flavour.
- Plymouth: This gin is technically a style of gin, but only one distillery produces it and it’s called, appropriately enough, Plymouth. Though originally as rich as a Dutch genever, today this regional gin, made only in Plymouth, England, is as clean and bracing as a London dry. Good for almost any drink in which you might use a London dry gin.
- Old Tom: Old Tom is the corduroy-clad hipster of gins. London dry’s sweeter, fuller-bodied parent has only recently come back on the market after decades in suspended animation. Nowadays it is known as very good gin, the botanicals are usually distilled, the sweetness in it normally comes from a larger amount of liquorice that’s in the distillation; they don’t add flavour after. This gin is good for Tom Collins, gin Rickeys, martinis.
- Genever: Th style genever —the original— uses base grains that are malted (so the grain starts to germinate aka live and then that process is halted), similar to whiskey, giving it a more robust flavour. It’s also flavoured with juniper and botanicals, but less so than the other gin types. Giving it a botanical flavour than the English styles, and more sippable gin. Good for sipping straight and chilled, in John Collins and other gin fixes.
How to drink gin?
Due to its fresh and dry taste however, gin is mainly ideal as a base for many cocktail and drink combinations. It’s used in James Bond’s famous signature drink: Dry Martini. You can also find it in the Gin Fizz cocktail or in Rickey Geneva – a simple combination with carbonated water and BeauEvil – which is then mixed with orange juice and lemon soda. Of course we can’t forget the iconic and simple gin and tonic.
How do I distinguish a premium gin?
As for their composition, their ingredients will also be different. As in many beverages, water is one of the main ingredients. Keep in mind that premium brands rely on high quality water for the making of its premium gins. Some use water from mountain springs and even from arctic glaciers. Without even tasting the product, you’ll be able to see that there are big differences between normal and premium gins.
How many botanical bases for gin are there?
Although some products are used for all gins, some are used only for one type of spirt. In the table below we provide information on the different types of botanical bases that gins may have:
|Botanical bases for gin||Aroma||Flavour||Undertones|
|Classic||Nebron||Fresh and dry taste.||Strong juniper undertones.|
|Citric||Citrus aromas prevail.||Sweet tasting.||These include grapefruit, orange, lemon, mandarin and lime undertones.|
|Herbal||Botanical with notes of grass and a very intense aroma.||Very fresh and pleasant flavour.||These include mint, basil, rosemary and thyme undertones.|
|Floral||Mild aroma of flowers.||Intense and sweet flavour, less dry than others.||These include lilies, roses, violets, geranium and jasmine undertones.|
|Fruits||Pleasant aroma of berries and red fruits.||Flavour of red fruits and berries.||These include grape, strawberry and apple undertones.|
|Spicy||Wide range of aromas.||Intense and spicy flavour.||These include cinnamon, ginger, pepper, angelica root and nutmeg undertones.|
What other uses does gin have?
Another ideal function for gin is that of aftershave. It is a disinfectant, so it works to soothe the skin after shaving. As we mentioned before, gin first appeared as medicine un the UK, so it should not be a surprise that it has many medicinal properties. It combats colds and flu and also has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, ideal for pains and aiding in heavy digestion.
Next, we’ll discuss a number of issues you should consider before buying a bottle of gin. If you understand the important factors you will find it easier to make a good purchase. Do not rush, there are many gins and many brands in the market. If you want to choose a quality gin, follow these criteria:
- Type of gin
- Botanical classification
- Beneficial properties
- Intended Use
- Alcohol content
Type of gin
Gin is a distilled alcoholic drink that derives its predominant flavour from juniper berries (Juniperus communis). Gin is one of the broadest categories of spirits, all of various origins, styles, and flavour profiles, that revolve around juniper as a common ingredient. Depending on who you ask, you can see that there are generally five types of gin. However Canada and the USA mainly recognise only 3 types of gin (Genever, Gin, London or Dry gin), while the European Union recognises 4 types (Juniper-flavoured spirit drinks, Gin, Distilled gin and London gin).
If we opt to classy them in 4 categories, the first are the juniper brandies, which are alcoholic beverages flavoured with juniper. The second is “Gin”, made only with common juniper berries and flavoured with botanicals. Distilled gin is a beverage with distilled alcohol from 96% agricultural origin. It is distilled and flavoured during the process. The last one is the London Dry Gin, the most commercialised and consumed type of gin. It is the usual dry gin, free of colorants, sweeteners and additives. Aromatised with traditional botanical elements.
The taste and aroma of gin are very important factors to consider when choosing the right gin for you. In classic gins, the predominant flavour is that of juniper berry. This doesn’t have to be the only flavour though. Many gin products have citrus undertones such as orange, lemon, mandarin or grapefruit. These are fresher products, ideal for drinking alone or with ice and a piece of lemon peel or cucumber. There are also gin products with predominantly herbal undertones.
These herbal gins tend to have a wider range of products within, as there are many herbs and plants that can be added to create a distinctly unique flavour. The most common herbs used are mint, rosemary and thyme. There are also gins made with floral ingredients, although these are more rare. These products have undertones of jasmine or lily, which gives them a touch of sweet. The sweetest gins however, are the ones that are infused and made with fruits.
One of the main differences between premium and normal gins is found in the packaging. Image and presentation is important to reputable distilleries. It is a factor that influences the price and quality of gin. Brands such as Tanqueray or Hendricks take the presentation of their products very seriously. These packages are usually eye-catching and well-designed.
And you shouldn’t overlook the amount of gin in one bottle. Most often we find gin in 0.7 litre or 1 litre bottles. Some brands offer 0.75 litre presentations, although this is not the norm. Gin doesn’t expire, so don’t worry if you’re not a big drinker. If it’s left over, you can always keep it until the next time you have dinner with friends.
Gin was initially created as a medicine in the UK. It is composed of juniper and other plants, spices, flowers and fruits. It was originally used as a remedy for the flu and common colds. It is also a good disinfectant, so it can be and was used to clean wounds. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, it’s disinfectant capabilities are so great that it could be used to disinfect a surgical kit.
Moreover, it has always been used as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. It is an effective remedy against stomach cramps and menstrual cramps. It is also ideal for soothing toothache or to reduce inflammation of the gums. It may also be used to relieve the swelling that occurs in heavy digestion. English soldiers in India used it to fight malaria and numb pain.
When making an online purchase you should not overlook the comments of other buyers. Many of these comments can provide detailed product information. Do not rely solely on product descriptions that sometimes do really provide any relevant information. Reviews and opinions will tell you whether or not a product is popular and often sold.
Although some opinions will be subjective, you will find others very useful. Some buyers have specialised in making relevant comments on their purchases. Read these comments carefully, as they will provide you with information, almost always superior to that of the original manufacturers’ description. Valuations can also play an important role in most decision making situations, read them.
Gin is a drink with a very particular and distinctive taste and aroma. Gin products are usually very dry and, although some have pleasant flavours, they are not usually made to be consumed straight. Some brands however, create gins that ideal for drinking them alone, only with a little ice and some cucumber or a slice of lemon. But it’s not the usual way of drinking it, if you don’t like mixed drinks, then gin is probably not right for you.
Gin is the base of many mixtures and cocktails. If you want a good gin for a night with friends, don’t choose a premium product. These are very expensive and are usually better for making special cocktails. Keep in mind that the London Dry Gins are the ideal products for making mixed drinks with tonic. Many new products however, have very personal and distinct flavours, so it is not advisable to spice them up too much with added flavours.
In the world of gin, there are some brands and distilleries that are very well known. Tanqueray or Hendricks are some of the most consumed gin brands worldwide. They both produce top quality liqueurs and have hundreds of years of experience. These distilleries use traditional recipes and their gins gins are very dry. With the rise in gins popularity, more and more distilleries are producing quality products. The proof is in our own backyard, since Canada is now making quality gin in all its provinces.
The most modern distilleries seek to innovate the process and recipes. With the continued rise in popularity of the gin-tonic, newer distilleries are trying to find something that makes their product different. Pink gin from Puerto de Indias, for example, has blown up the market. These gins usually have added flavours and smells. Moreover, among some of the newer distilleries it has become popular to add colour to the gins.
Gin usually goes through several distillation processes. In some cases the original product exceeds 96% of alcohol content. Agricultural alcohol is used to produce gin. This means that their production is achieved by the fermentation of vegetable grains. These gins are very fine and have a very traditional taste.
It is most common for gin to have between 37 and 47 percent of alcohol content. As you can see, gin is a product with high alcohol content. The alcohol content of the product will influence the price of gin. The higher its alcohol content, the more expensive the gin will be. Most brands contain around 40% of alcohol. This high levels of alcohol make gin the ideal spirit to mix up and enjoy thought the night.
Gin is a very specific drink and caters to very personal tastes. Unlike other alcoholic spirits, it is very difficult to drink straight. Luckily, it’s aromas and flavours make it ideal to be mixed and to be used as base in many mixed drinks and cocktails. In a gin-tonic, with lemon soda or in a Dry Martini, gin is an excellent base drink. As with any alcoholic beverage, remember to consume it with prudence and caution.
Choosing the best gin is something you have to do on your own. Follow your tastes, choose a fruit tree if you like sweet flavours or an herbal one if you want something more intense. Look at their botanical base or their price to help narrow your choices. Whether you end up choosing it for its design or for its taste – if you want the best gin on the Canadian market, just follow the recommendations and information of our guide.
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