Georgian Bay Spirits Company is ten years old! To mark the occasion, founders Denzil Wadds and Tim Keenleyside have launched a new 10th Anniversary Gin, the first in a new Distillery Series. There is so much to celebrate: the longevity of a local craft distillery, an excellent new gin with which to mark the milestone, and the promise of more creativity to come. I had a chance to talk to founder Denzil Wadds about the origin, history and future of Georgian Bay Spirit Company.

Georgian Bay Gin Begins in a Home Kitchen

The original Georgian Bay Gin is a London Dry style gin. To say that the gin was a labour of love is an understatement. Denzil made the first 48 iterations of the recipe in his home kitchen! As a gin lover with a decades-long family connection to Georgian Bay, he was aiming for a recipe that would drink like a traditional London Dry gin and be at home in a gin and tonic dockside in cottage country. The goal was to have the juniper up front but to add more complexity on the finish. Adding coriander, citrus peels and angelica root gave a more dynamic taste experience and creamy finish.

Scaling up from the mere half litre he made at home to a 600 litre first order for the LCBO was the first of many challenges the company has faced in the past ten years. Georgian Bay Spirit Company’s ready to serve Gin Smash was such a runaway success, they struggled to make enough gin to keep up with demand. Until they were able to build their own distilling facility in Collingwood, they were having to truck in trailers of gin made for them in Calgary.

Now with a facility in Collingwood and with their own distiller in charge of production, there is a sense that the gin has truly come home.

10th Anniversary Edition

Aside from marking their 10-year milestone, the 10th Anniversary Gin was a chance for the distilling team to play and to make something fun, interesting and different.

For the 10th Anniversary Gin, Distiller Tuan Dang created a softer, contemporary style gin. For their 10 years, they’ve included 10 botanicals: juniper, coriander, lemon peel, orange peel, angelica root, grains of paradise, rose hips, tangerine peel, elderflower, and rose petals. The juniper is less pronounced, and the floral flavours come to the fore.

Achieving this balance meant revisiting their distilling method. They have slowed down distillation so that the botanicals spend more time in contact with the spirit vapour. Georgian Bay distills its gin at a very high proof, but this proved to be detrimental to the flavour of the rose petals. In order to make sure that they could extract maximum flavour and aroma from the rose petals, they redistill the gin at a lower proof when they add the rose. This preserves the delicate floral notes.

Bring Out the Flavours

Georgian Bay Distillery Series

Given that so much care was given to preserving the rose facet of this gin, I say lean into the floral notes. It’s lovely in a gin & tonic with elderflower tonic to turn up the elderflower. You could also serve it in a French 75 with elderflower liqueur, or try it in an Aviation, which is made with creme de violette.

Tangerine peel is an additional citrus in this blend, so you could also lean into the citrus side with a yuzu tonic or make a tangerine gin gimlet. Even better, pair it with an artisinal mixer from County Bounty.

Cheers to craft distilling, and long may our distillers continue to innovate and experiment!

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