Ungava, The Canadian Gin
Gin and Canada aren't usually two things that I would put together so it was with some surprise when a new gin called Ungava landed on my desk and I realised that it was from that very chilly country. Ungava Canadian Premium Gin
, to give it its full title, comes from the northern frontier of the Canadian wilderness where vast tracts of Arctic tundra meet with seas so icy they'd kill a man in minutes if he were to fall in. This is a pretty inhospitable place so it was a surprise to learn that the botanicals for this gin are handpicked from this rugged landscape during the very brief summer season. Ungava is a place of icy, tranquil beauty where one can see the incredible light display of the aurora borealis in the night sky and be overawed by the sheer immensity of the imposing landscape. The native Inuit people and their forebears have called this land their own for thousands of years and they now dwell in villages along the coast and river deltas where they hunt and forage through the summer in preparation for the long, hard Winter. This unique climate produces the six botanicals used in Ungava Canadian Gin
and provides the distinctive natural yellow colour of the liquid. These rare plants and berries are gathered with complete respect for the land and the ancient traditions on the Inuit people. They are carefully picked by hand. Like all gins this one is juniper lead, containing Nordic juniper that grows in among the tundra. Cloudberry is a tart berry that grows in limited numbers and is notoriously difficult to find; natives of the north use this in cooking and to make spirits with. Wild Rose Hips are also used and are an excellent source of vitamin C. The last three botanical are really specialist to the region and you would not of heard of them unless you were a native; Arctic Blend is a creeping evergreen used in teas, Labrador Tea is a flowering bog plant also used in tea and Crowberries are round purple berries that are used in making jams and the like.
I imagine that Ungava Canadian Gin's mellow character and the fact that it's 100% natural will appeal to a great deal of people as will its 43.1% ABV volume. The contemporary bottle also represents the gins geographic ties with a sleek shape and clean cut lines reminiscent of the arctic landscape. The clear glass allows the yellow of the gin to shine through and the bottle also features script in the Inuit language of Inuktitut.
The nose is very juniper forward with hints of lemon and an underlying sweetness. There's not much here that would hint at the unique botanicals used to make the gin. The palate is unsurprisingly tart considering the various berries that went into the distillation. After this you are hit with a strong wave of juniper followed by a bit of heat and a long, bitter finish that has pine notes to it. This is very pleasant drinking and I think that, despite some strong influence from the unusual botanicals, would still appeal to fans of the classic London Dry. I tried mixing it with one of our best tonics, 1724, and the results were good. This particular tonic really bought the bitter notes of the gin to the fore and was a very dry offering. If you enjoy your drinks bitter and dry then this would be an excellent combination for you. All in all I really liked this gin from its provenance right through to its twist on the classic London Dry. The unusual botanicals are not as overwhelming as you might think, although they do provide a certain variance that will seem exotic to those of us unfamiliar with food foraged from an arctic wilderness! You can pick up Ungava Canadian Gin here
if this sounds like your cup of Eskimo tea.