The first thing that you will notice about Ungava Gin is that colour...
The electric neon yellow colour is from the infusion of the six arctic plants that make up Ungava’s unique botanical bill.
The base spirit is local corn and the six arctic botanicals range from the relatively common, Rosehips for example, and the go all the way to the obscure such as the Bakeapple or Labrador Tea.
These botanicals are handpicked during their peak season and imparted in two passes: once before distillation, and again afterwards via infusion, hence the colour.
Along the way, Ungava has quickly gained a global following s and has won a bunch of global awards. So it's an intriguing gin and worth a closer look, for both the obscure botanicals, the colour, and its taste.
For The Botanists Amongst You...
Okay, there’s a few of them here. So bare with me on this whirlwind tour.
Cloudberry is a tart berry grows in only very small quantities in its native range. Though hard to find, it has been used in many northern peoples’ food cultures. Many native northerners made spirits from them, but its most commonly found in jellies and jams. Also known as the “Bakeapple.”
Wild Rose Hips is another one, and this is probably familiar to anyone who’s had a rose bush. It’s the fruit of said plant, and been used for jellies, teas and are very rich in vitamin C.
Now we’re getting into the ones that you've maybe never heard of before...
Arctic Blend is a creeping evergreen used as a kind of tea by northern peoples.
Labrador Tea is a flowering bog plant with white poofy flowers, also used as a tea by the Inuit.
Crowberries are another evergreen of the north, and these low lying plants produce round purplish berries that are used in jams and pies as well.
There's a lot of tart/semi-sweet fruits in here, so let’s get on to the taste...
The colour out of the bottle is an almost otherwordly shade of sun-kissed yellow.
The nose is a rather traditional from the start, but with a distinct ethanol edge. A touch of citrusy lemon, a touch of floral, but a good deal of juniper. The color may surprise, but the nose feels very classic.
The nose is slightly sweet, a hint of lemon zest but a good deal of juniper. A hint of alcohol as well. Smells quite classic in character.
The palate deviates a bit from the expected path. A distinct note of coriander seems to emerge, with some hints of fresh cranberry, preserved lemon and a muddied, green/pine juniper. There’s a tangy earthiness that billows here underneath the surface buoyed by a slight touch of green tea leaves, flower imbued tea blend and tart berry. Could that be the Cloudberry?
The finish is medium length with a mostly warm astringency and a hint of juniper and pine again.
It’s an intriguing gin with a complex flavor profile that at times oscillates between opaque and traditional.
Ungava is a unique contemporary gin.
The obscure flavours and ingredients will leave you wondering, “just what is that flavour?” and reaching for more traditional supports “is that coriander?” But its mixability and unique colour will probably have you reaching for it again and again.
It mixes nicely in cocktails and the colour actually adds a stunning touch to many of your standard cocktails.
Ungava is unique and well made, combining surprising techniques into an eye-catching gin that spans taste preferences. Give it a try at Blend Bistro & Wine Bar soon ... but we won’t blame you if you go all in on colour alone!