Juniper is a spice, of course, and essential to the classic gin taste. But the new gins allow for experimentation with all sorts of other spices. I have yet to see a “pumpkin spice” gin, but some of these come pretty close. Perhaps they are more like “chai gins” since cinnamon or cassia always plays a big role. While that flavour is pretty common in gin, to stress it suggests they are Fall or Autumn gins, and so I consider the spiced gins from both Magnotta (Inginious) and Reid’s in Ontario alongside the Autumn GiNS from Compass in Nova Scotia. Any of these makes a great Tom Collins or, even better, a hot toddy (which I’m starting to think of as a Hot Collins). They’ll warm up your thermos for outdoor socializing.
Starting with the spiciest!
Reid’s Spiced Gin, the spiciest of the lot, with all the intensity and range that you could want in a gin. It is my favourite so far for a hot toddy and so I demolished the bottle by making outside drinks for friends. Admittedly, on its own, Reid’s sometimes has a soapy taste reminiscent of Old Spice, which means that this one is for cocktails only, but it makes those cocktails pretty exciting.
Inginious Spiced Hopped Gin from Magnotta also makes a great hot toddy and it’s more adaptable than Reid’s, combining a solid dose of cinnamon with hops that rounds it out.
Both Reid’s and Inginious can be bitter and the G&T needs to be softened with a big citrus squeeze or fruit bitters — I tried Dillon’s Pear and their house Aromatic DSB. Simpler and more effective are the tonic syrups that offer robust citrus, my favourite so far being Porter’s Cardamom and Orange Tonic Syrup. (You can make a hot G&T with these too! More to come on that.)
The one gin explicitly themed by the season, Compass Autumn GiNS can substitute across the menu for your regular gin, including in a Bramble. It already has its own berry notes that together with the spices alongside the spices give it a taste of berry crisp — so much fun.
If you are shy of committing to a whole spicy bottle, consider Heretic Gin #1 which is an all-purpose gin but features a distinctive cinnamon finish that will give that autumnal kick to your hot toddy.
Full reviews on all four gins to come soon.