I was at the SAQ (what we call the liquor store here in Quebec) and was planning to buy some wine and some gin when I came across a new product that was just being placed on the shelves. A new local gin made with…dandelion? The label also highlights the other two weeds which distinguish this gin, red clover and iris root. What with my interest in foraging and herbalism, and gin and locally made products, this dandelion gin was right up my alley, so I of course had to buy it…especially since novel experiences are few and far between during a global pandemic. Additionally, since dandelions are thought to promote liver health, I found the paradox of both potentially helping the liver by drinking a dandelion infusion and hurting it by consuming alcohol intellectually appealing.
Oshlag is both a brewery and a distillery. On their website they claim they’re the first establishment to both brew and distill under the same roof. Oshlag is named after the Iroquois village which once stood in the Montreal neighbourhood where it is now located. Though I have tried some of their beers before, this is my first time trying a product from their distillery side.
The gin is nicely presented in a clear, squat bottle and has an organic looking cork, the top of which appears to be made of bamboo while the cork is made of plasticy material. I especially like the nice illustration of the dandelion and the red clover on the label. The product is described as being herbal and delicate. The other aromatic ingredients listed, besides those already mentioned, are angelica root and (of course) juniper berries.
After opening the bottle, I proceeded to taste the gin straight, at room temperature. I noted that it is pretty weak in the flavour department. One is able to detect a faint herbal flavour. I couldn’t taste much in the way of florals. The dandelion doesn’t seem to have imparted much if any bitterness to the gin. Rather, the finishing note is faintly sweet and honeyed, likely due to the clover.
In a martini, I found the Oshlag dandelion gin to be comparable to Bombay Sapphire in that it has a clean, subtle, delicate flavour, though even in a martini, the faint note of honey in its aftertaste sets it apart. All in all, I find the description on the label fairly accurate, though the herbal flavour is quite faint when compared to other gins. Drinking this gin actually makes me feel almost as if I’m drinking weak herbal infusion, more than a gin, though the alcoholic bite is, of course, present.
This gin might be a good choice for vodka drinkers looking to try something new, or people who want to try a micro-distilled product but are afraid of bold flavours. In order to enjoy its subtle flavour it would be best to drink it straight (chilled) or with soda water. I generally like my gin to be a bit bolder and more complex, so am not sure if I’ll be purchasing it again, but who knows, it may grow on me.