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Unique new gin from the Canadian Arctic: Ungava

Ungava Canadian Premium Gin
Hoke Harden

There’s a brand new gin coming that will wake up your taste buds with bright, lively and totally unexpected flavors. It’s available now only in Canada---and only three provinces of Canada at that (Quebec, Ontario and Alberta), but the plans are already in place for a rollout to other markets, so it will be internationally available soon. It’ll take a while to get here, but it’s well worth the wait.

This new gin, from an unexpected source and with entirely unexpected aromas and flavors, is Ungava Canadian Premium Gin. Ungava is a word in native Inuit from the far northern reaches of Quebec within the Arctic Circle that means “toward the open waters”, and the gin is a delightful botanical expression of both a rare and special place and a rarely experienced culture.

Ungava Bay, leading to Hudson Strait and the Labrador Sea, is a land of extremes, but the endless expanse of tundra possesses a stark beauty in its contrast of long winters and brief but glorious summers.

In this Arctic region, where wintry ice and snow holds on for nine months of the year, and summer is an all-too-brief but exhilarating explosion of vibrant life, the Inuit customarily harvest rare botanicals that are incorporated into Ungava gin for an aroma and taste profile that is quite literally unique.

If you’re a fan of that fierce aromatic snap and bite of a fine gin, redolent with botanical essences that tingle and tease the palate, you’ll want to snap up a bottle of sun-bright Ungava. The blend consists of six specific botanicals mingled together:

--Nordic Juniper, with a brisk snap of piney brightness followed by a citric jolt and a cool mentholated finish, the obligatory juniper essence is evident---but this Arctic juniper has an authoritative bite that lingers.

--Crowberry, which looks a bit like blueberries on an evergreen bush, is essential to the Inuit culture, with the berries used for jams and the leaves steeped into soothing teas during the long icebound winters. Crowberries add an intriguing fruity sweet-tart element to Ungava.

--Labrador Tea, another evergreen plant, with sprigs of white flowers and fuzzy leaves, is a key ingredient in the ubiquitous teas of the Inuit, and here imparts a strong herbal flavor to the gin.

--Cloudberry, a charming little plant native to the area, and looking for all the world like sprightly little pale amber raspberries, provides both fruit and tea leaves with herbal components, as well as adding bright coloration to the gin.

--Arctic Blend, a close cousin to the Labrador Tea plant, although smaller in format and with differing herbal expressions, provides floral woodsy elements to Ungava gin.

--Wild Rose Hips, the fruit of the rose plant, which spring up in profusion where there is direct sunlight in the brief summers, are widely used in foods, medicines, and for flavoring. Rose Hips are high in Vitamin C, and thus prized by the Inuit for both their health benefit and their fruity-tart flavors, and add an enticing element to the botanical blend of Ungava.

These botanicals create a reflection of a unique place and people captured in a beverage that is delightful and engaging. Ungava Gin is bright, lively and bracing, easily drinkable on the rocks or in imaginative cocktails that highlight the unusual aromas and tastes.

Try these variations with Ungava:

--Midnight Sun: Ungava, rocks, and a wedge of grapefruit.
--Ungava & Tonic: Ungava gin and Fever Tree Tonic with a grapefruit wedge.
--Northern Star: Ungava gin, lime juice, simple syrup and egg white.
--Northwest Passage: Ungava gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, Thai basil simple syrup
and lime juice, garnished with a Makrut lime leaf.
--Ungava Martini: a delightfully different martini with Ungava gin and dry vermouth.
--Arctic Fizz: Ungava gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and soda in a Collins glass.
--Inamorata: Ungava gin, Campari, Limonata San Pellegrino, and Prosecco. For an exotic
touch, add a bit of liquid nitrogen to the glass before mixing.

Ungava Canadian Premium Gin is a new experience well worth waiting for. It’s coming, but it will take a while…so if you can’t wait, take a trip to Canada this summer and enjoy a bottle. After all, Montreal is lovely this time of the year, Toronto is a world-class city, and Calgary is gloriously beautiful.

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