May 21, 2019
For some people, just the mention of the word gin is enough to elicit groans, shudders and memories of the drink that earned the nicknames, ‘panty remover’, or ‘Mothers’ ruin’. But a century ago, gin had psudo-medicinal, almost magical properties and was a revered spirit. Yes, this libation has a long and complicated history, but a group of brave Alberta alchemists are turning the reputation of this much maligned spirit back around.
They’re handcrafting small batch gins using real botanical elements like coriander, spruce tips, spices and citrus. Local gin is popping up everywhere, and what’s being poured now is generations away from that potent, knock-you-over spirit that got the bad rap.
Consider picking up a bottle of one of these local gins; they’re all available at Co-op Wine Spirits Beer.
Eau Claire Parlour Gin
One of the original Alberta distilleries, many people are familiar with Eau Claire’s products. Their Parlour Gin is known as a more “medium” gin that adds spice to the typical lemon and juniper tastes.
Krang Spirits Nimbulus Gin
Located in Cochrane, Alberta, Krang Spirits’ Nimbulus Gin contains the usual juniper and coriander hints, but its unique ingredient “Grains of Paradise” is a pepper from Africa.
RAW Distillery Peppercorn Gin
If you’re looking to try some unique twists on gin, RAW Distillery Peppercorn Gin or Citrus Gin are both good places to start. Peppercorn Gin is particularly delicious in a Caesar, while the Citrus version makes a killer Gin & Tonic.
Strathcona Spirits Seaberry Gin
This gin is distilled in the same way as typical London dry gin is but, as the name suggests, Seaberry is the not-so-secret ingredient that balances out the additional 10 botanicals that are combined into this drink. Strathcona crowdsources the seaberries, which grow naturally all over Alberta, in a once a year harvest.
Wild Life Distillery Gin
Wild Life Distillery Gin has quickly become known for being one of the more balanced gins. Instead of juniper and coriander being the main tastes, lemon and orange give a citrusy sip up front with a smooth, enjoyable finish.
Confluence Manchester Dry Gin
This Gin is a crisp blend of handpicked botanicals, distilled in the Manchester area of Calgary. Juniper, Saskatoon Berries and Alberta Wild Rose impart subtle sweetness with floral notes.
Co-op Special Edition - Last Best ‘Winsome Ginsome’
Last Best Brewing & Distillery mainly focuses on its beer; however, they have also teamed up with Co-op Wine Spirits Beer and created a special edition gin called Last Best ‘Winsome Ginsome. If you can still find it, this was one of master distiller Bryce Parson’s special gins he created as part of a new-gin-a-week plan known as Gin Craze YYC. The Co-op version with its rhyming name provides wonderful notes of tangy lemon and grapefruit, and hints of honey with slight floral notes.
Like many folks in Calgary’s burgeoning brewing and distilling industry, Ross Alger started out making his own libations at home.
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