Sitting at the sexy Q Bar inside the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, I gleefully — and unexpectedly — discovered the Holy Grail of gins, Empress 1908 Gin. The knowledgeable barman confidently mixed elegant cocktails while explaining the Empress 1908 Gin’s story, its vibrant blue-violet color, and why it’s unique.
What Is This Gin’s Secret?
Empress 1908 Gin is hand-crafted in small-batch copper pot stills by Victoria Distillers in Sidney, BC. Peter Hunt, the master distiller and president of Victoria Distillers, marries the famous Fairmont Empress tea blend and dried butterfly pea blossoms, which gives the gin its color, with his superior spirit. This all-natural gin is also flavored with juniper, rose, coriander seed, grapefruit peel, ginger root and cinnamon bark. The recipe is a secret, but we should feel lucky to know the ingredients.
Why Would You Drink It?
Compared to other gins, Empress 1908 Gin is less aggressive aromatically and more gentle on the palate. With great pleasure and no restraint, the gin can be enjoyed on the rocks. But the magic — think unicorns lounging on flying carpets — happens when the gin is mixed with tonic or citrus. The drink transforms and the color changes from indigo to iridescent pink. No fairy dust required. And because of its delicate flavors, I advise mixing it judiciously. For example, fresh lemon juice quickly overpowers the gin if you’re not careful.
And They Lived Happily Ever After…
Drink this gin all year round, dazzle your Valentine with a pink Gin & Tonic, or create something new and Instagram worthy. Ask for the gin in your local market and help spread the word about the Holy Grail of gins. After all, the two bottles I brought home in my suitcase won’t last long and I need your help to make Empress 1908 Gin more accessible.
Note: If you’re looking for a Sloe Gin recommendation, we have one, along with a cocktail recipe and a Moroccan Chicken Tangine recipe.
Stephanie Davis is a Certified Wine Educator (CWE), Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Certified Advanced Level III, a French Wine Scholar (FWS), and Level 2 Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. Follow Stephanie on Instagram @wineheroine and Twitter @thewineheroine. Tune in to Stephanie’s weekly podcast Wine Two Five.