Expedition Gin Canada
Last year I went overlanding Eastern Canada for 2 months in hope of finding botanicals that would let me interpret my vision of Canadian terroir in a Gin. I went straight to Nova Scotia to immerse myself in the coastal atmosphere and after a little bit of wandering, I took the ferry to Newfoundland where I was eager to go back. I spent a whole month there and was able to find 2 out of the 6 types of juniper berries growing in Canada; the Juniperus Horizontalis and the Juniperus Chinensis. They both grow on the shores, usually on dry rocky ground and lay flat. The Horizontalis yields small earthy berries and the Chinensis chunky fruity berries. I foraged 25 kg of juniper berries, it was cold, my back was hurting, I was living in my car without heat, into the wild, but it was all worth it! After that I crossed to Labrador and started foraging anything piny I could find: cones, branches, sap, bark and moved on to go back to Quebec.
In quebec I foraged Melilot, AKA the Vanilla from Quebec for its flavor resembling to the exotic pod’s; pineapple weed that actually smells like pineapple when you crush it with your fingers; moss for its earthy smell and went for Labrador tea as well. The beauty of this tea is that it has different flavors depending on the season which is why I took some blossoms in spring for its honey and floral smell and in fall for its toasty flavors.
The tests. Quebec has a beautiful range of amazing Gins available and I wanted something completely different, we already have a bunch of piny Gins, floral, sweet, fruity and I wanted something close to the terroir. Some of my most memorable memories have been on Canadian coasts, walking the shores and woods. One of them being the soft wet ground walking in a forest and the earthy smells that comes out of it. Another one is the salty fresh air from the ocean. I had planed on soaking seaweeds after distillation to get the salt but had forgotten one thing: my juniper berries were coming from Newfoundland shores and were already covered with salt! Well the Gin came out salty from the still, and I should have known that!
The base. I was fortunate enough to collaborate with the extraordinary Monna sisters from Cassis Monna on Ile D’Orleans. We used their award wining Cassis Wine to distil the base and redistilled it with the botanicals. And by the way, stay on the look out for their next release!
In the end we have a very earthy and dry Gin, with hints of salt and fruity honey notes on the top of the tong. It’s a sipping Gin, I don’t really see it mixed with any kind of soda or tonic. Forget what you know about Gin and pour yourself an ounce of Expedition Gin Canada, let it breath for 10 minutes and close your eyes … enjoy your travel!