Review: Eau Claire Distillery Parlour Gin and Prickly Pear Equineox

Eau Claire Distillery calls Alberta, Canada its home, and this little outfit is turning out an increasingly diversified variety of spirits, including single malt whiskey and rum. Today we look at two of its straight white spirits, a gin and a unique spirit flavored with prickly pear.

Both are 80 proof. Thoughts follow.

Eau Claire Distillery Parlour Gin – A London dry style gin infused with juniper plus “rosehip, Saskatoon berry, coriander, lemon, orange, mint, and spice.” Not sure what “spice” is, but let’s dig in anyway. At just 40% abv, it’s a softer gin, a lightly earthy nose with a deep fruit character that evokes blueberry as well as fresh cedar and mint notes. The palate is stuffed with that berry fruit, something between blueberry and raspberry, dominating the experience. A touch of mint is about on par with the amount of juniper in this spirit — I’d barely call it gin — while the finish, at first a bit earthy, is heavy with juicy lemon and orange notes. All told it’s a very different gin than pretty much anything else on the market, but its uniqueness isn’t the only reason it’s worth investigating. A- / $35

Eau Claire Distillery Prickly Pear Equineox – What’s Equineox (not a typo, by the way)? It’s not exactly a liqueur, but rather is “a sweet, barley based alternative to gin or vodka.” The nose is quite liqueur-like, very sweet-smelling, with notes of rose petals, orange blossoms, watermelon, and candied berries. The palate is also on the sweet side, but sugar is less dominant than expected, with more fruity and floral notes percolating to the fore. There’s more complexity here than I’d imagined, including notes of toasted coconut, brown butter, and mixed florals. Interesting stuff, no question, but that said, I’m not entirely sure what I’d do with it. B+ / $30

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