Water makes up 10% of the province of Quebec. Further, this one province alone contains 3% of the entire planet’s freshwater preserves. So when Distillerie du Fjord names their product Km 12 Gin after the mile marker where their water source is located, you know they’re talking serious business.
Fjord Distillery is the first distillery in the Saguenay Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec. This large expanse of land is boreal and sparsely populated. The landscape inspires Km 12 Gin down to the botanical selection. An unusual ingredient known as pine forest spikenard is native to the forests of the region and is said to taste of “eucalyptus and cardamom.”
Other unusual botanicals foraged include wild raspberry leaves, bog myrtle, and dune pepper. Which despite the name is not a member of the pepper family, it just sort of looks like long pepper.
At first a burst of terpey, resiny pine and mastic notes emerge. These quickly volatilize and you’re left with a beautiful, almost sweet blend of pine blossom and Douglas fir. Boreal is just that— boreal.
The palate is clear and pine-forward early. A clean menthol flavor emerges and evolves to add a slight note of camphor before adding an intense note of camphor towards the finish.
Mid-palate, sweet spice occupies a distant background note. Despite the unfamiliar botanicals in Km 12 Gin, the spice notes ring familiar. There’s suggestions of pink peppercorn, cubeb pepper, and even cardamom.
The finish is long and lasting with the heavy camphor fading into a cool trigeminal glow on the palate with lasting Douglas fir notes.
In terms of other gins in this pine heavy space, for comparison Km 12 Gin is less sweet than Fillier’s Pine Blossom Gin. It’s more terpey than Blue Line Gin. The closest comparison might be Scandinavian Spruce Gin.
Km 12 Gin is a surprisingly tough mixer. The heavy pine (not necessarily juniper!) notes stand out in nearly every cocktail. Fortunately citrus and pine are natural companions. Drinks like the Gin and Lemonade, Tom Collins or The Gimlet work well.
Overall, Km 12 Gin
Km 12 Gin is a beautiful pine-forward gin that plays on juniper’s natural pine flavors and dials it up to ten. Fans of classic gin— especially the pine-forward side— will love Km 12 Gin.
If gins like Gordon’s are too piney for you— look elsewhere.
Km 12 Gin is a beautiful love song to the boreal forest that is delicious simply on its own.