Last Best Gin

July 14, 2020

Summer is the season of the gin & tonic, but gin is great in many more cocktails and summer sips; the French 75 or the Negroni both come to mind. Good timing then, that Last Best has introduced new gins designed to offer fresh and fun flavours that aim to inspire cocktail aficionados and weekend warriors alike to play and explore. 

GinCrazeYYC“Building on the success of our Last Best GinCrazeYYC in 2018 where we developed 52 new gins in a single year, we are bringing forward a new gin program that reflects our continued exploration of gin and its versatility,” says Bryce Parsons, Master Brewer & Distiller at Last Best. “In other words, we want to have fun with these offerings which are all distilled dry gins, meaning there’s no sugar added, and they all start with a base spirit made from western Canadian wheat.”  

Last Best Series 2020.01 launched with three gins, including Afterglow, and Fortunella, both of which are available at Calgary Co-op Wine Spirits Beer. New series’ will be launched two to three times a year.  

“All gins must have juniper in them, however, juniper alone doesn’t define gin. The botanicals we use are sourced from all over the world to get the best quality we can. We pick certain botanical combinations to give the gin a ‘personality’ beyond juniper,” Parsons explains. 

Fortunella and Afterglow gins are distilled in small batches in a custom designed 500 litre copper still made exclusively for Last Best. 

Afterglow is what Parsons refers to as “a fresh approach to gin.” With a low level of juniper, this gin focuses on prominent botanicals like fresh Thai basil and lemon verbena.

“Gin lovers will want to know our Afterglow gin doesn’t have coriander in it, which is the fruit of cilantro plant,” Parsons reveals. It’s rare to not find coriander as it’s the second most common botanical used in gin after juniper.” 

Fortunella, by contrast is like “gin and juice” in a bottle, muses Parsons. “We use orange, mandarin and juniper predominantly in this one, and it’s going to be best for someone looking for an approachable gin, but with a familiar taste. We puree whole fresh mandarins right into the still before heat-up to get the freshest flavour possible.”  

last best distillerySo, how else does the flavour get into the gin? Parsons shares there are two main ways: steeping and maceration or vapour infusion.

“Steeping is like making tea. We carefully measure out our botanicals and place them in our wheat base spirit for 12 to 24 hours depending on the recipe. Once they finish the steep, they get boiled in the still pot and we collect the vapour—this is strong gin.  With vapour infusion, we boil the alcohol and the vapour passes through a basket holding the chosen botanicals thus extracting flavour before we collect it.”  

Last Best distills all botanicals at once rather than individually. This, Parsons says, allows them to interact with each other chemically within the still, making new scent and flavour compounds, leading to depth of flavour. 

Check out some of Last Best’s new gins this summer; whether you sip them full strength in a chilled martini to really appreciate the delicate essences, or use them is some of summer’s most popular cocktails.

Find Last Best Afterglow and Fortunella gins at Calgary Co-op Wine Spirits Beer.

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