Review: Shiver Gin (83.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published on June 2, 2011
I contacted Gregg Kerr of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Commission (NLC) a few weeks ago informing him of my plans to begin a series of gin and vodka reviews hoping to include at least a few Canadian spirits. Greg was kind enough to forward me a bottle of Shiver Gin, a new product of the NLC. Shiver Gin is made in the ‘London Dry’ style in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Of the various styles of gin, London Dry Gin, is the most common. (For those who do not know, the legal requirement is that London Dry Gin must be distilled in the presence juniper and other botanicals.) Of the botanicals used for this particular gin, the company makes specific reference on their website to anise which is said to give the gin “an unexpected uplift with each sip“.
In the Bottle 4/5
Although I was sent a small 375 ml flask for the purpose of this review (see photo below), I was also given permission to use the photo to the right which shows the Shiver Gin and Shiver Vodka in the more typical 750 ml bottle. The presentation is clean and attractive although somewhat minimalistic.
I am not enthusiastic about the plastic (PET) bottle which is used for both the 750 ml and the 375 ml presentation, or the metal screw caps that are used for each bottle. Plastic is particularly troublesome for me, as I often see these bottles being advertised as “environmentally friendly”. The truth is that plastic does not decompose; it remains pretty much as it is for thousands of years. Other than the extremely small amount of plastic that has been incinerated, all of the plastic ever produced on earth is still in the environment. I find this fact hard to reconcile with the notion of plastic being ‘environmentally friendly’.
My problem with metal screw caps is that they just do not provide an efficient seal. On a recent trip back from Miami, I brought back 12 bottles of rum, each packed into my luggage and wrapped with duct tape around the seals. The three bottles which were sealed with metal screw caps all leaked. The bottles sealed with corks all survived completely intact. This added more fuel to my negative thoughts towards metal screw caps.
However, in spite of my ranting, I recognize that Shiver Gin is an economy priced gin. It is not expensive, and I always allow some leniency when the price of the spirit is affordable.
In the Glass 8.5/10
I poured myself a small shot of the Shiver Gin, and then gave my glass a tilt and slow swirl. A nice oily sheen was imparted on the inside of my glass, and then long slender legs developed. This is an indication of a mildly oily texture which should give this gin a nice finish.
I next spent a little time nosing the glass. Warm citrus notes seemed to spring out of the glass alongside a soft piny juniper. As I let the aroma gather, I began to sense some individual notes similar to Orange Curacao and Maraschino Cherry liqueurs. Some lemon and lime citrus seems to be present as well as grapefruit zest. The nose is topped off by the an aroma similar to Anisette Liqueur. I am pleased by what I sense although perhaps the juniper should not sit quite so far back.
In the Mouth 50/60
Sipping Shiver Gin neat was easier than I expected. The juniper aroma was perhaps a little understated on the nose; but, that unmistakably punch of alpine berry reveals itself immediately when you take your first sip. Beside the juniper lies lighter and sweeter flavours which I would describe as maraschino cherry liqueur, sweet mandarin oranges, citrus pith, and just a hint of licorice. The overall effect is a dry mildly bitter gin which seems to be begging to be mixed into a cocktail.
So I made myself a nice gin cocktail, The Key-Lime Gimlet, to test how the gin would perform in a mixed drink. The cocktail I experienced was surprising, but tasty. The surprising part was how the gin laid back in the cocktail taking a backseat to the key-limes until the finish. Then the gin asserted itself with a wonderfully dry pithy exit full of juniper flavour. I also made a Darby Cocktail (See Recipe Below), because I began to sense some more grapefruit essences in the Shiver Gin, and I thought the Darby would be a great cocktail to experiment with. Again I was struck by how the fruity flavour of the drink seemed to be pushed forward in the mouth only to be devoured in the finish by a dry and pithy mildly bitter juniper finish. For me this was excellent!
In the Throat 12.5/15
When sipping the Shiver Gin straight, I found the finish to be mildly dry with flavours of juniper and grapefruit dominating the exit; but as advertised, there is that unexpected ‘kick’ of anisette right at the finish. This light kick of anise is quite a nice way to finish the experience.
In a cocktail, the gin behaves quite differently as the anise seems to disappear, and the finish is full of a mildly bitter dry juniper and pithy citrus. I suspect the style of the cocktails which I constructed (both being full of citrus fruit) had a lot to do with making that anise disappear and bringing forward the citrus pith.
The Afterburn 8.5/10
What a pleasant surprise! I always like when a spirit I sample dares to be a little different, and this gin is definitely a little different from the norm. It is soft in the mouth with flavours that do not clobber your palate. All of the right elements are in place in a gin which is soothing to sip and delightful to mix. And, finally, the finish provided by the gin does indeed provide “an unexpected uplift with each sip“, just as advertised.
Shiver Gin is not an expensive indulgence, and if you are looking for an economical gin but still want to enjoy a nice piny gin flavour in your cocktails, then the Shiver Gin is definitely worth a look.
You may read some of my other Gin Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
1 1/2 oz Shiver Gin
1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1 tsp Sugar Syrup
Pour the first three ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker are frosted
Strain into a suitable glass
Please remember to enjoy my cocktail suggestions responsibly!
My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret that score as follows:
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing spirit. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)