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April Spirits: Gin

It’s April and it’s Spring, so this month we’re all about the flavours and complexity of distilled grains with juniper - along with other natural berries, herbs, fruits, and spices – which means gin! With bottles from both sides of the Atlantic, what do our picks have in common? They are all very proud of being small batch, handcrafted, spirits, each reflecting the area they come from and the people who made them. They’re all very different, and each worthy of scouring the province to find! 

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Dillon’s Cherry Flavoured Gin, Ontario 

Starting with a well-made, rye-based gin, and then flavoured with real sour cherries - locally sourced - and a pinch of sweetening, this achieves the impossible. A cherry flavoured spirit that doesn’t taste medicinal. Aromatic and tart cherries bring freshness and light while the gin is intense and a little spicy too. Some killer cocktails would love this.  

CSPC 8644049 $50-55 

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Height of Arrows, Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh’s Holyrood Distillery was founded by Calgarians Rob and Kelly Carpenter, and is known for their whisky, but here is their gin – made along the same principles of simplicity and few ingredients, letting each speak for itself. Juniper, Isle of Sky sea salt, and beeswax, are distilled with barley spirit to produce a lovely, layered gin with an amazingly viscous mouthfeel and a little pepper on the finish – one for the martinis! 

CSPC 877100 $58-61 

Junipero California Craft Gin, California, USA 

Made by hand in San Francisco, Junipero (Spanish for juniper – the essential ingredient in gin) is a bold bottling at nearly 50 percent ABV, but the joy of gin is how easily it drinks with tonic, or in cocktails – and Junipero is perfect for both with its citrus and spice notes coming from orange and lemon peel, cardamom and coriander – and cubeb, an Indonesian peppercorn! 

CSPC: 869862 $55 

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Brighton Gin Pavilion Strength, England 

From England’s south coast, Brighton Gin is the epitome of ‘handcrafted’, not only in small batches of 250 bottles, but with bottles all filled, labeled, and wax-sealed by hand. Aromas of fresh orange and lime peel leap out of the glass, backed by juniper and coriander infused into a base of 100 percent organic wheat, and re-distilled - resulting in a creamy, citrusy, gluten-free, and vegan gin, that drinks as well on its own as it does with tonic or in cocktails. 

CSPC 886286, around $72 

Dunrobin Distilleries Earl Grey Gin, Ontario

Bergamot is such a terrific complement to juniper, and I’m a big fan of Earl Grey Gin - here with warming flavours of ginger, coriander, and peppercorns, and a hint of lemongrass for lightness and freshness. It’s a beautiful-looking bottle enhanced with a combination of flower petals which give it a dark purple colour that changes to pink when you add any citrus; add a slice of orange and a little tonic. 

CSPC 887500 $48-53 

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Bodega Astobiza Gin, Spain

We visited Astobiza winery on our wine and culinary tour last autumn and loved the wines, and then discovered they made gin! Fully ‘artisanal’ they showed us where they find their juniper by the winery, and six of the other ten botanicals come from the vineyard (yes, vine leaves and grapes too!), grape must and CO2 from the fermentation, and citrus and berries from the local village – Basque in a glass! Limited supply in Alberta but worth searching out… 

CSPC 829089 $68-72 

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