Alcohol producers in Quebec aren’t short of ideas for showcasing local berries. Their drinks are another way to discover the richness of Quebec’s terroir. Here are five lesser-known spirits, some of which are only sold where they’re made.
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There are more than a hundred gins in Quebec, but Denis Carrier and Nancy Jacques’s is quite different. It is not made with corn or wheat alcohol, but with Haskap alcohol. For the past eight years, the couple has been growing this small fruit on Quebec’s south coast in the Bellechasse region. He bought a still two years ago. Launched in the middle of a pandemic, the gin called Saisie38 was all the rage. “Our first 600 bottles went in less than two hours,” reveals the couple. The cuvée’s name is a nod to the secret distillery that operated at the Saint-Anselme farm during Prohibition and was the subject of a major confiscation in 1938. Today, the production of alcohol from Camerises St-Philippe is legal, assures producers. Gin is sold in various formats only at the farm.
Saisie38, Camerises St-Philippe, $42
Saskatoon flavored cider
The Saskatoon has a lot of bitterness, tannins and little juice. Therefore, alcoholic products based on this small black fruit are rather rare. Saskatoon is one of the rare exceptions. Cidrerie Compton producer Eve Grenier uses it to flavor her McIntosh cider. Thanks to Saskatoon’s maceration, its cider has a pretty pink color and its aromas are more complex. The drink is also aged in oak barrels previously used for vinification of red wine. “The Saskatoon berry has notes of tobacco,” describes Mme attic. There is a farm cider. Cidrerie Compton grows a dozen different fruit trees, including cherries and haskap. It also uses these other two small fruits to flavor its ciders. The entire production of the apple wine house is organically certified and the bottles are subject to a deposit. For environmental reasons, the company reuses the bottles.
Amelanche, Compton Ciderrie, $22
Vincent Noël always dreamed of distilling a fruit-based brandy, as is the tradition in France. Based on the southern flank of Île d’Orléans, the Quebec blackcurrant cultivation pioneer realized his dream two years ago when he received his permit at the beginning of the pandemic. At the head of the Vinaigrerie du Capitaine, Mr. Noël explains that blackcurrant brandy is rare because the small fruit is expensive. Despite everything, this enthusiast did not want to compromise on quality: he wanted to produce a good-tasting brandy. It has been possible! The fruity and slightly herbal notes of cassis fill the glass. On the palate, the brandy is very silky and fruity. It is sold in multiple formats only on the site.
Blackcurrant Brandy, Vinaigrie du Capitaine, 750 ml, $56.75
Everyone loves cherries
The sour cherry is one of the favorite berries of alcohol producers. Thanks to its fragrant and spicy taste, it can be found in a wide range of products, including the new liqueur from the Distillerie de la Chaufferie. The drink’s name, Valentine, alludes to the variety of fruits grown in Saint-Paul-d’Abbotsford. Distiller Vincent Van Horn found the right dosage: the drink is sweet and soft on the palate, but not too much! The cherry flavors are evident and the finish is long lasting.
FMR Valentine (15011466), $35.25
Wild currants and more in this gin
Currant is the main ingredient in Norkotié Gin. Its producer, Catherine Blier, explains that this small red fruit grows wild on the Côte-Nord, where the distillery is located. “We pick it on the banks of the river,” she says. It is everywhere. It’s impossible to miss the sparkling notes she brings to her gin. Because the distillery consumes an average of 8 kg of currants per batch of 200 bottles. That is much ! She also adds black haskap, fermented poplar, labrador tea and aronia berries. The whole thing gives his drink a typical boreal signature and a silky texture.
Vent du Nord Le Norkotié Distillery (14447065), $51.50