Some great things have come out of Canada: hockey (hello, Wayne and Sid), action stars (hey, Keanu) and whisky. While we were busy here in the US prohibiting alcohol back about 80 years ago, Canada just kept on making it. I, for one, am glad they did! This time, they’re following in our footsteps, and there are craft distillers popping up all over the frozen North. Dillon’s was kind enough to send me samples of their hooch, which will soon be available more widely in the US.
Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers is in Ontario, Canada and is located in wine country. Started by a father and son team, with combined experience in chemistry, biology and economics, Dillon’s creates spirits from locally grown botanicals, grains and grapes. Made on a small pot still, each batch is made by hand. That’s a great start – let’s see how they taste.
The White Rye
Color: Clear – this is an unaged rye, and the basis for their aged whisky (available in 2016, if all goes as planned).
Nose: All rye, with little to no alcohol smell. If you’ve not had the chance to smell an all-rye whisky, this is what one should smell like. It’s a distinct smell when it’s not buried under corn or barley.
Taste: Smooth and mellow, and a little sweet. There’s almost no burn, and it leaves a sweet, grainy finish on your tongue. There’s also none of the musty sock flavor I’ve found in some rye whisky (when the grain isn’t properly mashed).
Comments: At 80 proof, this is a very a drinkable unaged whisky. When you aren’t putting the whisky in a barrel to age, you need to cut it differently. Dillon’s chose the heart of the run in this bottle, and that’s exactly the way you should do it.
Unfiltered Gin 22
Color: Clear – the bottle notes “cloudy” because it’s unfiltered to preserve flavor (an excellent choice), though my bottle looks pretty clear.
Nose: A fresh, citrus, almost-lime smell at first. If “green” were a smell, this is what it would smell like.
Taste: The botanical mix isn’t one I’ve tasted in the gins I’ve had – there’s less citrus than the nose, with an almost spicy flavor coming through. It’s a little sweeter, as well – not the London dry style, but more of an Old Tom or American style (and now Canadian style, it seems). This gin is made from grape neutral spirit, instead of grain, which I think also makes a big difference.
Comments: I like a good gin, but I’ve found few I’d go back to, or drink neat. Unfiltered Gin 22 made me immediately have a second sip, to see if it was as interesting as the first. It was! File that under, “Do that again.”
Rose Gin Liqueur
Color: A pale, reddish brown in the bottle, with a little bit of gold coming through in the glass. As you swirl it around, there’s a bit of the cloudiness in the bottom (I’m using a Glencairn glass). I’m guessing that’s from the sweetener. It’s not a bad thing, but if you’re used to a clear liquid, it can make you look twice.
Nose: Light and sweet, I expected a bit of the rose to come through, but it was mainly a sweet/sugary smell.
Taste: Ah, there are the roses. They’ve managed to get the essence of rose, without any weird, grandma’s-soap-dish flavors.
Comments: This liqueur would be a lovely finish to an evening, sipped neat. It’s sweet without being cloying. They’ve got some tasty-sounding recipes, too.
Overall, Dillon’s makes great liquor. They also make vodka, pear eau-de-vie, a line of bitters and absinthe. While I’d normally be hesitant with a small distillery making so many different things, they’ve managed to do each of these products very well.
9 pancakes out of 10 – well done!!
Article by: Jeanne Runkle