First, a big shout-out to my friend Chris who picked me up Dillon’s Cherry Gin while on a wine tour this past Spring.
Dillon’s Cherry Gin is the combination of local Niagara Peninsula Cherries and their signature, locally grown 100% Ontario Rye base spirit. The same base spirit they use in many of their spirits. Dillon’s philosophy is steeped in tradition and family. Interesting note, among the team, Peter Dillon’s title is “Herb and Botanical Expert.” That sounds like a fantastic title to have, and one that I hope to one day aspire to. I digress, back to the gin.
On the nose, brown sugar, molasses, stewed cherry, strawberry, and a faint hint of banana as well. Lower, there’s a nice touch of spice with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Nice depth with a lot of complexity at first whiff.
The palate is complex as well. Tart with clear cherry at first, with spice emerging later. Cardamom, ginger, and cassia come through, however, it seems indistinct. It could be any or all of the bunch. It’s a well balanced melange of rich, earthy notes. The finish is slightly acidic with tart fruit augmenting the heat that emerges. Surprisingly boozy for what the expectation of a liqueur might be, but I think the strength is used to nice effect and is part of the gin’s charm. It’s not a liqueur, so banish that thought. It’s more of an aperitif with only a gentle sweetness to it. Quite nice, and recommended just on its own.
A summery spirit that works well in a summery drink like the Gin Fizz is music to my mouth on a warm day [mixing metaphors? tsk tsk]. It tastes like a sharp, bright cherry limeade with hints of strawberry and lemon. Highly Recommended.
Next, we tried it in a classic gin and tonic with Hansen’s tonic water. Clean citrus, with notes again of cherry and lime, with a hint of tartness on the finish as well. Juniper isn’t as loud as it is in some gins, but its certainly here, and again to nice effect. Recommended.
I tried it next in a Negroni, and Dillon’s Cherry Gin to be a willing dance partner. Campari and bitter orange at first, with floral, fruity notes coming through mid-palate. Ginger, coriander and the faintest intimation of vanilla off in the distance. Creamy, thick, rich finish. It works, it really does.
Finally, we tried it an Old Fashioned. We haven’t fond this cocktail too often around here, but it seemed like a good opportunity to push this Cherry Gin in a new direction. We paired it with some cherry/vanilla bitters, to elevate/synergize etc. with the gin. We weren’t disappointed. Cherry and vanilla came through brightly at first, with bitter cherry notes coming through a bit lower. Slight flash of juniper, with a creamy rich finish that left with “sensations of cherries covered with creme anglaise, and a bit of orange rind.” Also, really nice and Recommended.
If you’re looking for a flavored, summer gin that mixes well and tastes great just as it is [out of the bottle? warm? cold? yes and yes] you’ve found it. This is really lovely stuff. Fans of classic style gin and contemporary gin alike will find a gin that appeals to all cherry and gin loving sensibilities in equal parts. But keep in mind, it’s a cherry gin, not just a gin. I really dig this [for what it is] and I think that if this is representative of the work they do, I can’t wait to try Dillon’s Strawberry Gin. Definitely recommended.