Exciting things afoot here in my home town of Calgary: the bathtub gin law that was holding us back in the wonderful world of liquor has finally been relaxed and Alberta is ready to join the world of craft spirits and beer. This is an amazing development and one that I wish I was more ready for. Having been an “Ideas Guy" my entire life, I have a lot of ideas for brands, styles, stills and booze that will maybe never come to fruition. At first I blamed the law makers but now they took that excuse away from me and still nothing is happening on my end. And, to be frank, I am not sure that what I really want to happen. So for now, as I watch the booze industry grow around me, I will enjoy the new offerings as they come and maybe writing about each as I taste them will help me figure out what I want for myself.
Distilleries and breweries are opening all around us as my favourite city in the world embraces the need to have more local fare and becomes even more hipster, like fun boozing cities such as Portland, OR. While these distilleries are still being built I have only anticipation to taste from them, which, while complex and exciting, doesn't command the same sorts of tasting notes as the liquid that currently abides on the shelves of the best bottleshops around town. Whiskies from the new stills are at least 3 years out from being entirely their own product because of the minimum age requirements for a spirit to be called Canadian Whisky; but, since there is no age on clear spirits we can expect most to first release a gin and vodka.
Let's take a close look at what the new booze manufacturies are up against.
First up in our fancy tasting glass, hailing from New Deal distillery in Portland, is the No. 1 Gin. New deal has had their stills custom designed to pull as much of the oils and flavour out of their only botanical, juniper, as possible. This has given it a depth that would take other distillers a plethora of botanicals to achieve. While technically a classic dry style gin, this hardly resembles any of the big classics that have “London Dry” on their labels. Instead of being exceptionally soft and under layers upon layers of notes, No. 1 is raw and very savoury, like a woman just out of the shower, hair flat and still wet smelling of argan shampoo. It's simple, very straightforward and not trying to hide anything, and because they bottle at a proper 46% abv. (alcohol by volume) it cocktails wonderfully; pairing well with Vya dry vermouth and a small cutting of lemon peel for a perfect martini.
Available only at Vinearts here in town.