The long weekend is just about here, so what better way to celebrate than by sipping on an interesting gin? The Canadian micro-distillery scene has been gaining substantial momentum over the past year, so much momentum, in fact, that it can be hard to keep up with what’s new and top notch.

I reached out to liquor expert, Jesse Willis, owner of Vine Arts and Proof to share some of boutique gins from coast-to-coast that you can currently find on the market here in Alberta. Here are his seven picks.

Phillips Fermentorium Stump Gin – Victoria, BC

Stump Gin is brought to you by the people behind Phillips Brewery, and is intended to capture the essence of Vancouver Island’s rugged coastline and forests. Stump Gin is made using hand foraged herbs and botanicals from British Columbia including cascade hops, bay laurel and grand fir. This really is like a walk in the woods, showing flavours of pine, fresh earth, citrus and juniper.

Noteworthy New Western Dry Gin – Oliver, BC

Noteworthy Gin is produced at the Dubh Glas distillery in Oliver, BC.  Duh Glas (pronounced dugh-luhs) in Gaelic means “from the dark water” which revers to their water source which is fed through an underground aquifer. The Noteworthy Gin is made from a base of BC-grown barley and is a new world-style with a rich texture, lush sweetness and notes of strawberry, lemon zest and spring flowers

Park Distillery Barrel Aged Gin – Banff, Alberta

While the concept of a brew pub is common, the concept of being able to watch distillation in action while seated in a restaurant drinking a vodka soda or gin & tonic is far less common. Park just released their first barrel-aged gin, which spent 6 months in a used Jack Daniels barrel before bottling. It has an amber colour and displays toasty notes including vanilla, cedar, baked apple and toasted grains. I find some barrel-aged gins overbearing, but this iteration retains its vibrancy and freshness.

This is a very limited release only available direct from the distillery or from Vine Arts while supplies last.

Strathcona Spirits Badland Seaberry Gin – Edmonton, AB

Strathcona is a new micro distillery in Edmonton. The distillers have endeavoured to make this as local as possible (at least as local as you can get in Edmonton) with seaberry foraged from the streets of Edmonton and a portion of the Juniper coming from the Badlands in southern Alberta. This has warm flavours of cinnamon, lavender and nougat. An exotic gin and a great first effort from this new distillery.
Dillon’s Unfiltered Gin 22 – Beamsville, Ontario
Distiller Geoff Dillon crafts a range of outstanding small batch spirits at their facility located in the heart of wine country in Niagara, Ontario. Dillon’s makes the most of their proximity to wine country, crafting their No. 22 gin from a base of Niagara wine grapes. As the name suggests this gin was bottled unfiltered and uses a blend of 22 botanicals. The grape base helps to give this gin a plush, smooth texture that works well in a classic martini or negroni.
Cirka “Sauvage” Dry Gin – Montreal, Quebec
Circa is a micro-distillery located in Montreal, where they produce a line of hand crafted spirits with a focus on using Quebec grains and botanicals. The Sauvage dry gin is made from 100% Quebec grown corn and a blend of over 30 botanicals. The Sauvage gin showcases exotic notes of coriander, lemon peel and of course juniper.
Ironworks Gin – Lunenberg, Nova Scotia
Ironworks distillery lis located in the old port of Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, and takes its name from the 1893 heritage building where the distillery is situated which once held a marine blacksmith’s shop. The proprietor’s focus on supporting local farmers, with the majority of their grains, fruits and botanicals coming from Nova Scotia. Their Ironworks Gin features Nova Scotia juniper berries, hand picked rose hips and a light infusion of balsam fir bud eau de vie.  This is a bright and refreshing gin made in the classic London Dry style. Look for notes of fresh herbs, grapefruit, fresh chillies and fir needle.

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