Catch 22

by Chef

As the art that is “small batch distillation” evolves, the spirits that we now have the pleasure of coming to know continue to impress, and not only are our options as drinkers growing, but the quality of these options is growing exponentially as well. A prime example of this forward movement is a distillery that hails from the heart of a Canadian peninsula famous, surprisingly, for world-renowned ice wines. Less than half an hour from the heart of Niagara wine country in the Twenty Valley, a truly unique distillery - that utilizes its own region as well as any other distillery - crafts a wonderful array of spirits, working hard to restore respect for Canadian distilling. The creators of Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers are not only passionate about making their brew in small, attention-to-detail-driven batches; they also constantly work with local farmers to ensure quality by sourcing every ingredient they can as nearby as possible, all the while keeping their overall impact on the environment a major priority by maintaining a very thoughtful approach to sustainability. The distillery’s location allows utilization of the nutrient-rich soils of those nearby farms and wineries (that are often run by neighbors and friends) for sourcing local fresh fruit, grain, and botanicals that are painstakingly turned into quality spirits. Dillon’s co-owner and chief distiller, Geoff Dillon, believes that their country has lost a lot of respect in the world’s “spirits game” over the last several years and has made one of the company’s main objectives to tirelessly work on helping restore Canada’s lost clout. Dillon’s distills and bottles vodka, unaged rye whisky, pear eau de vie, myriad types of bitters in myriad creative flavors, and they even have Canadian rye whisky currently aging in all-Canadian oak barrels. We’ll just have to be patient before we can taste, although it should be ready soon ... but for now, I want to focus on their botanical gin. Dillon’s Unfiltered Gin 22 is made only from Niagara grapes that are a byproduct of the annual thinning process of local wineries, and is infused with 22 botanicals (hence the name) that are either grown by the Dillon family — or sourced locally, of course! Made in the traditional London dry style, it does have a little of that typical, distinct juniper backbone, yet remains very citrus driven, but not just lemon and lime; instead, grapefruit zest. It is slightly floral, but not overly “perfumey,” and there are even “evergreen forest” notes of cedar and pine. After one sip, it’s no surprise that Dillon’s Unfiltered Gin 22 won double gold earlier this year at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It is robust and flavorful, yet has an amazingly smooth and balanced blend of botanical flavors that play together harmoniously without one overpowering another. For a gin this special, all you really need to enjoy it is an empty glass and a few ice cubes, and for this month’s feature, we really haven’t done a whole lot more than that, purposefully keeping it simple to allow this special spirit to take center stage. We lightly mist a chilled martini glass with dry vermouth, then stir (not shake) the gin in a cocktail shaker with ice, strain into the prepared glass, and garnish with lemon-peel-stuffed olives. I give you “Catch 22.”

Serves: 1


2½ ounces Dillon’s Unfiltered Gin 22
Misting of Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth


Mist a chilled martini glass with dry vermouth, add gin and ice into a mixing tin, stir, and then strain into the martini glass. Garnish with a skewer of 2 lemon-peel-stuffed olives.