Ungava is a contemporary gin named after Ungava Bay, a vast territory in the Canadian Arctic.
Price: ~ £32
I’ll give you three guesses what drew me to this gin…
Correct! It was on sale! Ok ok… Plus that bold, yellow hue had been tempting me for a while, and I was interested to try this Canadian premium gin! The colour of which is the result of the post distillation of the botanicals, in particular the cloudberries and rosehips.
After some sleuthing, I was able to find that ‘Arctic Blend’ refers to a 50/50 blend of Arctic Thyme and Iceland Moss, typically sold as a herbal tea, which makes this particular gin full of botanicals I’m not overly familiar with. Let’s see how we get on.
The bottle is squared with convex sides, topped with a silver screwtop, and as you would expect, carries minimal labelling so as to make the colourful liquid as visible as possible. The label is a bit on the clunky side for me and I understand the company has received criticism for featuring Inuktitut characters around it. I can understand the criticism, as they could perhaps have used the characters to say something about the Inuit that would be meaningful rather than using it as decoration. Overall it’s fairly simple and uninspiring.
Despite it’s appearance, this is definitely a gin. Juniper is right there at the fore, sweet and citrusy. It’s fairly sharp, with some nice bright lemon, but also a clean burn from the alcohol. There are hints of herbaciousness, with a very faint and pleasant stewed aroma. It smells quite strong, but very nice.
Sipped neat, pine is the first flavour to come through, though it’s fairly mellow and tangy. This develops wonderfully to a fuller flavour that travels around the mouth and slowly develops into a rich, slightly sweet herbal spice. I’m not sure which of the botanicals I’m tasting to be honest, but they’re doing a good job together. There’s a fair amount of burn there, but plenty of flavour too. Beneath it all is a mild lemon flavour that I’m really enjoying.
With water, the gin completely changes. Gone are all the harsh, bright notes from the alcohol. Instead we step into a garden of delights. Somehow everything is much more mellow, and yet more flavoursome. The citrus is still there, but it’s more herbal, along with some lovely, mildly savoury herbs and sour spice. It really opens up beautifully.
Finally, a G&T (2:1 Schweppes 1783 Indian Tonic) with a wedge of orange. Interestingly the gin turns a pleasant orange when diluted with tonic, but nonetheless the results are… unexpected! I had thought it would be much more crisp and light, but it’s actually quite a deep, earthy affair. Again it’s different to how it tasted before, and there are new elements to enjoy. I must say this is incredibly easy to drink! It’s rich and bittersweet with a pleasantly tart aftertaste. I’d be interested to try this with different tonics and garnishes. I get the impression it’s very versatile!
Ungava is good. It has punch, mixes well, and obviously has a unique selling point… but for me there’s something missing. It’s definitely surprised me, and I think it’ll be one to enjoy experimenting with, but the flavour profile is almost too transient. On the one hand I think that makes the gin super versatile, but on the other I also like to know what I’m getting.
If you can get it on offer (and at the time of writing I think it’s going super cheap at Tesco) then I’d definitely recommend it. Otherwise, while it would definitely make a great go-to gin, I think there are less expensive ones out there that could do the same job.
Add half a feather if you like a versatile gin and don’t mind paying for it
Ungava is available online and in supermarkets
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.