Victoria Distillers – Empress 1908 Gin

Jody Hollis

/ Style

A friend of mine bought me this beautiful bottle of Empress 1908 Gin for Christmas. It was so lovely to share some Christmas Cheer with this unique drink with incredible colour over the Holiday Season. I also think it is very cool that it is produced locally by Victoria Distillers.

Empress 1908 Gin – Original Indigo

Our distillers worked with the mixologists of the new “Q at the bar to create a unique gin that is perfect for a G&T.

Empress 1908 Original Indigo Gin is 100% authentic and all-natural. It’s infused with the vibrantly hued butterfly pea blossom, adding a singularly distinct expression – an impossibly lush and vivid indigo blue, with a stunning secret to reveal; with the addition of citrus or tonic, Empress 1908 is transformed from its breathtaking indigo to a soft pink.

The butterfly pea flower gives the spirit its vibrant colour, and mixed with tonic or citrus changes from deep indigo to soft pink.

Tasting Notes: More juniper than our Victoria Gin, with robust citrus notes come from grapefruit peel. We also use rose, ginger, coriander, cinnamon and Fairmont Empress Blend Tea.

Gold Medal, New York World Wine & Spirits Competition, 2017
Best Alcohol Drink, World Beverage Innovation Awards, 2017
Judge’s Selection, Alberta Beverage Awards, 2017


Our Story – Victoria Distillers

Well-crafted spirits are the essential building blocks of cocktails. At Victoria Distillers, these ‘liquid bar tools’ are made with one, pretty basic goal. We want people everywhere to be able to make great drinks.

We know bartenders are the cocktail experts. They understand that a great drink requires spirits that are singular and distinctive in taste. So we collaborate with incredibly talented mixologists to create both classic and innovative cocktail spirits, using the world’s best-tasting water (found right here on the Canadian west coast), and the best ingredients from around the world.

As one of Canada’s oldest, small-batch spirits companies, we’re influenced by history and driven by innovation. For us, there’s no other way.

What’s with the grid of 9 dots?

We’re inspired by the idea that, when there’s the right combination of spirits and ingredients, the possibilities for innovative cocktail production are virtually limitless. Since there are 9 main categories of spirits, we look upon this grid of 9 bottle tops as a reminder that we are creating the tools for innovative cocktailers everywhere.

Victoria Distillers unveils their new Empress 1908 gin

Here’s the rundown of the brand new, one-of-a-kind gin from Victoria Distillers made in collaboration with the Fairmont Empress hotel.

Posted May 12, 2017

For gin lovers, there is nothing quite as exciting as discovering that a new micro-distilled gin has hit the market. As Canada’s microdistillery scene continues to boom, new spirits are almost a dime a dozen these days. Thus, it takes something thoughtful and unique to stand out behind the bar.

Since opening just over 10 years ago, Victoria Distillers has become one of the country’s most well-known spirit producers. If you’re having a drink at a quality cocktail bar in any major Canadian city, it is highly likely that its namesake gin will be on offer. The hemp vodka, also a signature, but more popular in Western Canada, is another notable notch in this distillery’s boozy belt. This week, the company has further added to its liquor lineup, unveiling its newest and royal purple gin, the Empress 1908, which is made in collaboration with the Fairmont Empress.

Fairmont Empress 1908 gin

Being one of the country’s most famous hotel properties, most people know that the Fairmont Empress has plenty of regal ties. Both Queen Elizabeth have graced the hotel with their royal presence, as have Prince Charles and Camilla. The noble history is apparently just as filled with gin as it is with royal visitors and tea services. What you might not know is that almost 100 years ago, Sir Winston Churchill sat in the Empress lobby lounge, secretly sipping on gin poured out of a teapot during prohibition. I’ll take that little historical visit over a queen’s wave any day of the week.

Jumping closer to present day, the hotel and Victoria Distillers have also had quite a close relationship as the same lobby lounge played host to the launch of the distillery’s first batch of gin in 2007. After years as an essential part of the hotel’s bar program, the two entities decided to collaborate on a special spirit that could pay homage to the hotel’s history–a custom cheers, if you will. The resulting botanical blend consists of rose, coriander seeds, grapefruit peel, ginger, juniper, cinnamon as well as the signature Empress blend tea.

But, wait a second. What’s with the colour?

Fairmont Empress 1908 gin

There’s no need to fret over bizarre food colourings and chemicals as the beautifully dramatic transformation (shown above) comes naturally, courtesy of dried butterfly pea flowers. Because of the infusion of the flowers, when the gin interacts with anything acidic, like tonic and lemon juice, it will change from a deep indigo to light pink. It’s a charming effect that will no doubt be welcomed with oohs and aahs from unsuspecting folks watching their drinks being made.

The colour change is reminiscent of the “unicorn effect” that’s running rampant in the North American food and drink scene. Rainbow shades and hues of purple and pink command people’s attention, whether it’s from a smoothie bowl, bagels, beer or, most prominently, Starbucks famously gimmicky Unicorn Frappucino.

Unlike that myriad of tacky creations, the metamorphosis doesn’t detract from the quality of the gin itself, which drinks like a London Dry with a little twist. Try it simply with a good quality tonic and a grapefruit peel garnish to see it shine.

The Empress 1908 gin is now available in select liquor stores across Canada and will also be shipped to American markets as of June. It’s rare to see a Canadian-made spirit available for purchase in the United States, so it will be interesting to see how the Empress 1908 is received by our southern cocktail-mixing neighbours this summer.