2018 Gin & Whisky Journal

Gin Ratings # 3

They do say if you love Scotch Whisky you will love and appreciate a good gin. The Grants family (Glenfiddich & Balvenie) seem to agree! A stunning gin from Bonnie Scotland with hints of cucumber and flowers, with a big mouthfeel. The distillery uses two stills for their botanicals recipe. Both identical recipes but, distilled separately in a Cadenhead still and a 19th centaury still. The result is wonderful.

Nose: Fresh & floral, with sweet lime & light spices
Palate: Smooth, with rose & sweet citrus
Finish: Long & floral, with rose
Botanicals: Juniper, Rose Petals, Cucumber, Coriander, Angelica Root, Orris Root, Orange Peel, Lemon Peel, Cubeb Berries, Grains of Paradise, Caraway Seeds, Elderflower, Yarrow, Chamomile ​
Key Flavours: Juniper, Cucumber, Rose

I put this gin in the “Not really” Category, since the cucumber notes seem more prominent than junipers.

Sipping 4.5: Just add four drops of water for an amazing tasting experience.

G & T. 3.5. I would recommend a Fever tree Elderflower Tonic. Otherwise with regular tonic its not going to balance up too well.

Martini 3.5 I would have the bartender make a more modern cocktail that works better with Hendricks.


Posted by on Jun 18, 2018 | 0 comments

Gin Ratings # 2. Sipsmith’s




      While being a relatively new distillery opening in 2009, this gin is traditional with plenty of Junipers and pine cone aromas.

Sipsmiths was very well received at our class last week and almost scored the same as Tanqueray 10.

On the nose and palate, lots of juniper with floral notes and spice. Big creamy mouthfeel.

Sipping: 4.3

G & T: 3.5 I would experiment with the range of Fever tree Tonic flavors. The score is based on a regular Indian tonic however, the Fever tree Mediterranean style may push the score to 4.0

Martini: While we didn’t have an opportunity to try this gin with a martini, the group and I are convinced this would be perfect. 5.0

Posted by on Jun 12, 2018 | 0 comments

Gin Ratings & Introduction

Did you know gin is the only alcoholic drink where what we detect is completely natural? We detect what botanicals recipes are used by the various gin distilleries.

Think about it. Strawberries aromas on French Pinot Noir, Orange or chocolate on a single malt whisky. In other words, the fermentation or other influences such as cask maturation or other techniques cause a reaction to all drinks. In gin you get what is in the botanical recipe. That’s it.

Also, in most cases you will detect in order what the gin maker gets when distillation occurs. IE: the most volatile botanical oils come first, such as citrus, followed by Junipers etc. and last the heavy botanicals oils such as spices.

You will find you detect more when in your mouth with gin and best to use a chewing motion. Your nose and palate are working together in total harmony.

The key is balance when judging the gin. Not for the different aromas to abruptly come in but rather each one from light to heavy botanicals coming in gently.

Yes, many gins today are a wonderful SIPPING experience.

Tip: To bring out some of the subtler botanicals such as oils from the flowers chosen in the recipe – add a tiny bit of water. Not one drop! Try 3 or four drops with an eye dropper (Pipette).

My Gin Ratings and before I start an explanation or two are in order.

Main Categories: New Traditional, Somewhat, Not really!

New Traditional: Definite Juniper notes, but without the pine cones and woody aromas. The base botanicals with lots of citrus fruit, spices and well balanced.

Somewhat: Subtle juniper notes, citrus remains however fruit notes balanced with slightly sweeter fruits – Seville oranges (orange marmalade) berries, spices and floral notes.

Not Really: No evidence of junipers, or citrusy notes resulting in what could be an amazing drink but is it really a Gin?

A gin should technically be of “predominately Junipers”. This has only been a rule of the EU since 2008, but actually in effect for a few hundred years!

Finally, the ratings will vary, since many gins are made to be a mixer in the classic martinis, G & T with various Fever Tree tonic combinations, Negroni and many more.

Sipping gin is still in its infancy with more craft distilleries producing gins today that can be enjoyed with just water or a fresh ice cube.

Scoring will be out of a possible 5 points. If a gin receives a low score for sipping it maybe high for a martini and vice versa.

My ratings will be different and more accurate than most you can find on -line. For the first 20 gins, the score will be determined by a minimum of 16 people attending my Gin Experience classes. Thereafter, at least six trade and gin enthusiasts will sample the gins with me.

It’s a whole new gin world in 2018. Have fun!

Tanqueray 10
Of all the big names in gin, my least favorite is Tanqueray. I find it far too woodsy for my liking.

So, it’s quite ironic that my first review would be one of the stars of our first Gin Experience 2018.

I held the glass to my nose. Wow! Took a small sip without water, smiled and looked for a reaction. The same smile appeared on the entire group. This was a sipping gin and we all eagerly added a few drops of water and began to describe the aromas and tastes. The Tanqueray 10 is nothing like its cousin that we find in stores and bars all over the world.

New Traditional: Its name derives from using new botanicals distilled in the tiny # 10 pot still before being added to the base Tanqueray recipe in the larger still. The new botanicals balance so well giving this gin a softer more mellow feel on the palate. Junipers are subtle, with both citrus and sweet orange, with a touch of anise and floral notes on the finish.

Sipping 4.5. So well balanced. A stunner!

G & T. 2.5. Why would you? There are many less expensive gins that make a perfect G & T.
However, if you must, try Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic which will help to compliment the gin’s soft fruits and floral notes.

Martini 4.5. Absolutely! A perfect marriage.

Posted by on Jun 7, 2018 | 0 comments

June In-Store Gin Tastings

Please join my team or myself at the stores below and sample a ” Perfect Gin & Tonic”

Multiple Award Winning Portobello Road Gin, Fresh ice, Fever Tree Tonic & a Red Grapefruit garnish.

What a perfect way to celebrate a hot & sunny June. Fingers crossed!

Friday 12-4 June 01


Saturday 12-4 June 09

Wyse Road, Dartmouth

Friday 12-4 June 15

Bayer’s lake

Thursday 3-7 June 07

Sackville (Downsview)

Friday 4-8 June 08


Friday 1-5 June 08

Truro (next to Superstore)

Thursday 4-8 June 07

Portland Street, Dartmouth

Saturday 12-4 June 16

Forest Hills

Friday 12-4 June 22



Posted by on May 19, 2018 | 0 comments

Certified Group Travel Specialist!

This winter I decided it was time to go back to college!

I searched for months looking for an on-line course that offered more than the wide variety courses available today.

I am old fashioned when it comes to learning and had a plan to study everyday through the winter in our local library. I go there a lot to think and rarely take my lap top and switch my phone to airplane mode. Just a notepad, pen and the peaceful ambience, usually gives me all the inspiration I need when working on a project.

I found exactly what I was looking for at the Travel College of Canada.

Happy to announce that after four months of extensive study, homework assignments, and lots of interaction with my tutor, I am now a certified Group Travel Specialist!

The final exam was nerve racking, but I passed with flying colors. So, what does this have to do with Gin or whisky you may ask?

I am busy finalizing tours to both Scotland with the Whisky Paradise tour, which you can view under tours on this site and a unique Gin and Real Ale tour of England. I feel fully confident that with my diploma and far more knowledge of the travel industry, my guests will feel more comfortable booking my tours.

While I offer escorted tours to England & Scotland, my diploma now allows me to offer my expertise to help with any destination for group travel. Golf in Portugal & Spain, a wedding in Jamaica or a river cruise are just a few examples of where I will focus.

Please keep checking my web site and this blog for more details on my escorted tours or email me at

Posted by on May 6, 2018 | 0 comments

Portobello Road Gin

This summer I will be promoting an amazing gin from London, England. Portobello Road Gin is now available in Nova Scotia in select stores. Priced at $ 44.99 this is a superb buy for such a premium gin.

This gin was developed at the famous Gin Institute in London, where enthusiasts may book a day to learn all aspects of gin from the history, botanicals, distillation process and more.

Part of the experience allows you to create your own botanical recipe. They will assemble and give you your very own bottle of Gin to take home and enjoy. They also keep each recipe created on file and you may order your very own gin via their web site.

One such recipe became Portobello Road Gin! Now made at their distillery at 186 Portobello Road.

The Gin Institute recently opened their new Gin Hotel. Here you can sip on a martini while listening to vinyl records in the heart of the city. Wake up to the sounds of the famous market and take a walk in the heart of West London, which has so much to offer.

I am currently working on Gin Tours for 2019 and this will be top on my list to feature while in London.

Portobello Road Gin is a classic style London Dry Gin. Its so versatile, with a clean, crisp taste with lots of juniper and a touch of citrus on the palate. It would work well with a martini or your favorite cocktail.

This has already become my favorite gin for a G & T. I have found my Fever Tree Tonic for this gin is their Elderflower Tonic with a good amount of fresh ice and a red grapefruit garnish. Don’t forget oodles of this gin to make the Perfect G & T


Posted by on Apr 27, 2018 | 0 comments

The Botanist Gin

The new Gin Craze is in full swing, only this time consumers have a wide choice of premium gins. The first craze a few hundred years ago in London saw consumption of gin sky rocket, being drunk more often than water or tea by all age groups. It was so easy to make and sell back then with ingredients such as Turpentine and juniper oils or some fake flavoring.

Today, gin is in my opinion the most fascinating, complex and premium alcoholic beverage in the market and with Fever Tree Tonic, probably the healthiest drink, in moderation of course.

On Friday of last week, I promoted The Botanist Gin at the New Minas store in the valley. This store is a gem for all people living in the valley region with an excellent range of all spirits including gin and single malt scotch.

I had along side the Botanist a Port Charlotte heavily peated whisky from Bruichladdich. Its not often you find a famous distillery that also produces a gin. This was one of the many goals distillery manager Jim McEwan had when moving to Bruichladdich some 20 years ago.

Islay folk are very proud of where they come from and it’s no surprise to find that out of 31 botanicals in this fine gin, 22 are from Islay. When you think PEI is ten times larger, to find so many on this tiny island is incredible. It truly is locally made gin.

The Botanist is a wonderful sipping gin with the hallmark thick texture on the pallet which is also found on Bruichladdich whisky.

So much floral notes on the nose with citrus and mint on the pallet. A long finish will have you wanting more.

Of course, we all prefer to drink our gin with a G & T. I chose the Elderberry Flower Fever Tree tonic for the Botanist which really brought out the floral and Elderberry flower botanical that is part of the gin’s make up.

Its $ 49.98 at the NSLC and currently only available in a few stores. It sold so well this year, a shipment is on the water at time of writing and should be back in Nova Scotia sometime in May.

My Gin Experience is back for a second season and all the information for my June classes can be found on the NSLC web site under in-store events. All four classes are already filling up fast.

Almost all gins available in the province will be showcased in the classes, either for sipping, a G & T or cocktails and I will start a Gin Rating Page, which will appear in this blog commencing in July.


Posted by on Apr 16, 2018 | 0 comments

Very Rare Single Malt Tasting

I had the privilege to host a rare single malt nose and tasting last week. This was in part due to the support and commitment from AHRSE whisky club, Tomatin Distillery and their local distributor.

We had an amazing line up of six single malts with the star attraction being the Tomatin 36 year old and Tomatin 1982 bottled in 2010 and therefore aged for 28 years in a single cask.

We began with Tomatin 12 and Aultmore 12 for reception malts, which gave me time to present Tomatin distillery, highlighting their change in focus from a large distillery to a distillery today that focuses almost entirely on producing single malts. Their recent awards show they have come along way since the seventies and should be considered a top 10 single malt producer in Scotland.

We poured the 36 next, which was a star and all 20 whisky enthusiasts in the audience had a smile on their faces. This is not a single cask expression, rather they stay with their core method of using casks with ex bourbon, ex first fill sherry and second fill sherry. This was personally one of the best aged whiskies I have tasted in my long whisky career.

So much fruit and spice on the palette and so well balanced. Such a long and creamy malt finish, with a nutty almond presence.

The 1982 was initially received with mixed reaction. One said, an outstanding spirit but almost tastes like a rum. This expression is slightly different for the distillery, since it spent its entire life in one single sherry puncheon cask. However, the audience changed their opinion once it had time to open up. Often, a single cask at cask strength will need time and a touch of water is also okay to help speed up the process of opening the malt.

We finished the night with Royal Brackla 21 and a 1989 Cu Bocan. Cu Bocan peated malt was the shock of the night. Tomatin does now produce peaty whisky under the Cu Bocan brand name, which is from a spectral dog that haunts the highland region. However, back in the eighties and nineties they did not produce any peated whiskies except this cask! It was an odd mistake and left to mature many years, spending time in three different ex bourbon casks.

Wow, this was amazing and while heavily peated it had perfect balance, much like Ardbeg.
Lots of fruit and ginger on the palette with a sweet smoke and very long finish.

This was my last whisky nose and taste for the season. Up Next, The Gin Experience Summer Season 2.


Posted by on Apr 11, 2018 | 0 comments

Post Whisky Show – Whisky Class

March 15th was my last regular whisky class for the winter season. Here’s hoping spring arrives with lots of warm sunshine and we can all get on to our decks to barbeque and of course sip on a long Gin & Tonic.

My Gin Experience events will commence in June.

We had six single malts from the show to nose & taste and I am featuring the three most popular from my guests on the 15th.

This wonderful single malt is made at the MacDuff distillery.  The distillery produces a huge amount of whisky for the Lawson’s blend, which is the # 6 best selling blend in world.  The Deveron range is the small amount they keep back and mature to be an aged single malt.
Deveron 18
Nose: Creamy malt with hints of hazelnut cream, fresh summer berries and a drizzle of maple syrup.
Palate: Peaches, dark chocolates, orange zest and malt aplenty.
Finish: Whispers of raisin and crushed nuts.

This is a gem owned by Diageo and used in their gold blend. Brora and this distillery were side by side and switched closing and re-opening. Finally, the new Clynelish was built in 1967 and Brora finally closed in 1983.
Clynelish 14
Nose: Zesty, mandarin, tangerine. Smoky.
Palate: Quite light, great clarity. Orange, soft acidity. Dry oak. Mixed fruits, vanilla, leather.
Finish: Quite long, bitter sweetness developing, spicy oak.

Ardbeg Corryvreckan

The main star of the evening. Ardbeg generally peat their whiskies to 55 PPM. This expression is no exception, however the rich chocolate on the palate, marrying in perfect harmony with rich fruit and peaty smoke. An amazing experience!

Look out for my 2018 Gin Blog coming soon



Posted by on Mar 20, 2018 | 0 comments

The Nova Scotia Whisky Show

Last Saturday was the annual NSLC Whisky Show in Halifax. Both the afternoon & evening secessions were packed with whisky enthusiasts. I was fortunate to be poring Royal Brackla and Aultmore from the Dewar’s – Last of the Great Malts series.

Both of these excellent distilleries produce whisky so good, the master blenders take almost all of their production for their top selling global blends.

The few casks that continue to be aged and offered in a single malt expression are quite rare. This is the same with most of the wonderful Speyside malts that are not available in our part of the world.

There seemed to be much interest in Irish single malts this year along with the release to Nova Scotia of Glen Grant.  Glen Grant single malt has been the # 1 seller in Italy for many years taking most of the distillery’s production. They have expanded the bottling line which is all done on site and can now offer their whiskies to more of us around the globe.

It was wonderful to see lots of old friends in the industry and some of the regular guests from my whisky classes over the past 12 months. Until next year – Slainte


Posted by on Mar 15, 2018 | 0 comments