The second and final gin I picked up at Vancouver airport’s duty-free shop was a bottle of Victoria Premium Cocktail Gin, in for a cent in for a dollar, as they say. The ginaissance has spawned a wide variety of categorisations for gin, some less helpful than others, and this is supposed to be New Western or New Wave or New American, take your pick. There is no formal, or should I say legal, definition of this style but in essence the juniper element is toned down and other botanicals, not normally associated with London Dry Gins, are deployed.
The Victoria Distillery is now to be found in Sidney, a town on the southern tip of Victoria Island in British Columbia, although when it first started operations it did so in Victoria. The move was made in 2016 and coincided with a rebrand and relaunch of the gin. Victoria Distillery is one of British Columbia’s oldest distilleries and gin making started in 2008 under the direction of Ken Winchester. However, the gin was revamped and the recipe recalibrated in 2009, the upshot being that the juniper element was reduced and some of the original botanicals changed.
The bottle is bell-shaped and cylindrical, with a long neck a brassy-coloured top and a synthetic cork stopper. The labelling is long and thin with a large V in a bronze colour, the name of the gin and the batch number; mine is from number 187. The label at the rear gives some information about the gin, namely that “the world’s finest botanicals are lovingly distilled and blended with pure Canadian water”. Some claim. A nice touch is that the clear parts of the bottle contain motifs of hearts, glasses and the like. A nice touch.
Yet again, though, the labelling is schtum on what the magic ingredients are that constitute the world’s finest botanicals. I will have to rely upon my jaded palate and senses. On opening the bottle, the aroma seemed to be missing that heavy, distinctive juniper smell. Instead, it seemed quite light in comparison with many gins that I had tried with quite a bit of citrus. In the mouth, this impression was confirmed. There was juniper in there but it was not dominant, a fair amount of citrus in play and some coriander.
Then came a spicy element and what I can only describe as a toffee-like flavour became apparent. The aftertaste was principally of spice and pepper but not excessively so. And, I guess, that was my overall impression of the gin. It seemed a bit undercooked with little in the way of a distinctive taste. It relied on other elements such as ice and/or a tonic to give it that whoosh that made it come alive. With an ABV of 42.5% it should have had enough power to stand on its own glass stem but it didn’t.
It was somewhat disappointing, perfectly acceptable for drinking but with little of what I look for these days in a gin. Each to their own, I suppose.
Until the next time, cheers!