Premium Island Gins

Next of Gin

A new wave of distillers in the West
is mixing things up with small-batch,
handcrafted modern spirits

By Charlene Rooke and Janet Nicol

Think of everything you know about that most traditional of spirits: the citrusy goodness of a G&T on a summer day. The juniper scent of an icy martini. Now sip rose-scented Victoria from Vancouver Island or fiery 98-proof Junipero from San Francisco. And forget everything you thought you knew.
Western distillers are reinventing gin, both the London dry (crisp and refreshing) and old-fashioned Dutch genever (spicy and smooth) styles. New York cocktail guru David Wondrich has dubbed the result “new Western dry gin.” Ask for these at your favourite local lounge or liquor store.

Victoria Gin
Barking Dog Vineyard, Vancouver Island

WHAT’S IN IT – Ten organic or wild-gathered botanicals (like orris root, cubeb berries, rose petal), some local. Recipe co-creator (with Brian Murray) Ken Winchester says: “The secret ingredient is love.”
How it’s made – Winchester honed his distilling skills at Scotland’s Bruichladdich to create this “gin by a whisky lover.” (The current distiller is Peter Hunt.)

Tasting notes – Smooth, sweetish and dry (thanks to the herb angelica), with a soft, floral and perfumey nose and lots of citrus punch. If you like Hendrick’s Scottish gin, try this with Q organic tonic for a fresh spin.
Available from B.C. liquor stores,

Phrog Gin
Island Spirits Distillery, Hornby Island

WHAT’S IN IT – Fourteen berries, seeds, roots and spices (like angelica, lemongrass and licorice). Distiller John Grayson says it is distinct for its creation from fruit (not grain) sugars.
How it’s made – Vancouver Island glacier spring water is trucked to the distillery. The aim is to source all ingredients from the two islands. Grayson and business partners (including Peter Kimmerly, captain of the island ferry) spent four years tweaking the recipe.

Tasting notes – Silky smooth. Lightly distributed botanicals give the gin an aromatic character. If you like Straight vodka, drink this neat or with just a splash of spring water.—J.N.

Reprinted (in part) from Western Living, May, 2009

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One Response to “Premium Island Gins”

  1. Sam Rooke Says:

    I just had a chance to visit island Spirits and was blown away at how smooth phrog was, never did i enjoy gin till that day.

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