May Spirits: Keeping it Local
While our May issue is usually about locally made and locally sourced products, this month we also wanted to call attention to some spirits (and refreshing coolers) that might be totally new to Albertans.
In addition to some rather novel products, we also have a stunning, locally made rum, and an exceptionally smooth vodka for those that might be a little less adventurous. We have no idea what the weather this month will look like, but even less of an idea of how or where we might be enjoying a tipple. So we think we’ve covered the basics.
Black Diamond Distillery Bourbon Vanilla Vodka, St. Albert
Nailed it! Richly laden with quality vanilla characters – but without any residual sweetness to muddy the waters. This vanilla infused vodka shows quite a bit of character and the vodka base is rather subtle in the mix. This will work very well (and perhaps save a step) in cocktails and simple mixed drinks.
CSPC +832738 375 mL $32, +832737 750 mL $48
T-Rex Distillery Sabertooth Rye, St. Albert
Claiming to be made with a “next-gen” ageing method to cut the time required to keep the spirit in barrel, all we can tell you at the moment is that this is a very well-priced rye spirit. Without the time in barrel to call it a rye whisky, it still delivers all the spice and flavour one would like. This will be an excellent mixing spirit, at a price that can’t be beat - and it’s made in Alberta too!
CSPC +844601 $22
Two Rivers Distillery “Sinnamon” Sandstone City Malt Spirit, Calgary
Another new offering from a local distillery, the Two Rivers Sinnamon is a one-two punch of cinnamon spice and boozy characters. It isn’t quite as palate-searingly hot as some other examples, but still has the flavour right, and the overall balance is bang on. Love those cinnamon hearts in February? You’ve found your spirit animal.
CSPC 842025 375 mL $25
Hansen Distillery Salted Caramel Cream Liqueur, Edmonton
While cream liqueurs might be seen as a bit of a wintery addition to your coffee, they are just as well suited to a cool morning addition to your backcountry coffee, or after a long day of summertime fun. Hansen’s Salted Caramel is a touch on the salty side for enjoying neat, but over ice cream or in a little coffee, it might be a new favourite tipple for your mug.
CSPC 845413 $48-50
Latitude 55 Kakwa Rum, Grande Prairie
Love this locally made expression of blackstrap molasses rum! Richly flavoured with tarry, smoky, molasses flavours supplemented by gingerbread spice and fruit, with rich oak character and vanilla bean on the finish - a finish you can almost chew! A little more robust on the palate than rums made from sugarcane, but will lend that extra kick to cocktails and with mixers.
CSPC +835480 $40
Rocky Mountain Big Horn Ultra-Premium Vodka, Yellowhead County
An award winning vodka at our 2020 Alberta Beverage Awards, and the Best in Class Vodka in 2019, this small batch vodka from Edson, Alberta, is subtle and complex on the nose. But it really starts to shine on the palate with mild peppery spice, soft tropical fruits, and wow, is it smooth too - right up to fine cereal notes towards the finish. Not too hot (40 percent ABV), but an exceptional, locally made sipping vodka or fine base for any number of mixed drinks.
CSPC +835767 $42-44
Refreshing Local Coolers
We love how many local producers are jumping into the ready to drink and coolers game.
Eau Claire Distillery Whisky Sassafras, Turner Valley
The brand new addition to Eau Claire’s craft cocktail line up, the Whisky Sassafras uses their newest whisky, Rupert’s Exceptional Canadian Whisky, as a base. Quite a bit drier than their other cocktails, the sassafras evokes a mild root beer flavour, but is very smooth, and very refreshing too with a softer whisky expression.
CSPC +845845 4-pack 355 mL $15
Black Diamond Distillery Earl Grey Mule, St. Albert
You could buy a bottle of Black Diamond’s Earl Grey Vodka, mix it with ginger beer and lime juice to make an Early Grey Mule but they’ve done it all for us, adding their house-made ginger-pepper syrup and fresh lime to the vodka, and we now can buy it in cans. It’s gingery and peppery with a burst of citrus – we could drink a lot of this so get out your copper mugs and enjoy! Raspberry Lemonade Vodka Soda checked all the boxes for us too…
CSPC +837291 355 mL $16
Skunkworks Skunk n Lime Cocktail Mix, Calgary
A popular cocktail from the Skunkworks tasting room, their easy mix cocktails bring the experience home. With bright, moonshine spirit notes and a tart, almost sour lime flavour, it shows its best over ice and with either a little soda or ginger ale (even think about margaritas!). Several flavours such as Moon Tea or the Dark Side (of the Moon) are also available, but the Skunk in Lime might be a real summer go-to.
CSPC +844504 200 mL $18