Fear not the fairy

Laying bare the legends and lore behind absinthe

Bar manager Simon Ogden draws off some absinthe from the fountain at the Veneto Tap Lounge in Victoria. Meghan Kirkpatrick photo.

“After the first glass, you see things as they are. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally, you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.” — Oscar Wilde

Absinthe, the fabled Green Fairy that ran amok through Paris at the height of the Belle Époque, remains the most polarizing spirit on the bar shelf.

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The Burrard Gimlet

The Burrard Gimlet. Issha Marie and Alison Page photo

A fresh twist on a classic

INGREDIENTS:
1.5 oz Gillespie’s Sin Gin
0.5 oz Green Chartreuse
0.5 oz wildflower honey water (1:1 ratio)
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
3 dashes Bittered Sling Lem-Marrakech Bitters
1 pinch Vancouver Island Sea Salt
Mist of Okanagan Spirits Taboo Absinthe

METHOD:
Combine all ingredients (minus Taboo Absinthe) in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake vigorously for 15 seconds and fine strain to a half-rimmed Vancouver Island Sea Salt cocktail glass. Using an atomizer or mister, spray a fine amount of absinthe over the glass for aromatics. Garnish with a lime twist.

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Arbutus Distillery

Head distiller Michael Pizzitelli brings both a background in science and his experience in brewing to Arbutus Distillery’s ever-growing range of botanical-forward spirits.

1890 Boxwood Rd., Nanaimo
250-714-0027

Arbutus-Distillery.com


PRODUCTS:

• Coven Vodka
• Empiric Gin
• Juniperus Lupulus
• Baba Yaga Absinthe
• Grand Visco Brandy
• Espresso Vodka


TASTING NOTES:


Coven Vodka

FRAGRANCE: Very little alcohol vapour, mild caramel and vanilla.
FLAVOUR: Dark caramel, toast.
FEEL: Creamy.
FINISH: Long finish of dark toast and caramel.
BEST ENJOYED: Martini or mixed drinks.
THE BOTTOM LINE: With the strong vanilla caramel notes, citrus isn’t the way to go with this one. I’d be interested to see it in an Espresso Martini. 
—Trevor Kallies, July 2016


Juniperus Lupulus

FRAGRANCE: Forest and wood.
FLAVOUR: Extremely rustic.
FEEL: Quite soft.
FINISH: Slight sweetness on the finish.
BEST ENJOYED: Not your usual gin. Could add a rustic twist to a Negroni or work well for a Dirty Martini.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Very unusual and unexpected. The wet hops and aged oak add really intense flavours some may find overpowering in a gin.
 —Wendy McGuinness, October 2016


Espresso Infused Vodka

FRAGRANCE: Coffee! Roasted beans. 
FLAVOUR: Not overly sweet. Tastes like cold brew.
FEEL: Better than other products — less thick/rich/cloying.
FINISH: Pleasant. Some sugar but not out of control.
BEST ENJOYED: Really cold. Maybe over ice, but dilution isn’t necessary.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Excellent product. If you want an espresso-flavoured spirit, this is worth a shot. —Josh Pape, February 2017


Baba Yaga Genuine Absinthe

FRAGRANCE: Fennel, licorice, citrus.
FLAVOUR: Dash of water, fresh citrus and tons of anise.
FEEL: Medium to full body.
FINISH: Long, hot, super delicious.
BEST ENJOYED: Neat or with a dash of water. A fantastic rinse for your Sazerac.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A very enjoyable absinthe. But be careful! –Scott Barber, June 2017


Empiric Gin

FRAGRANCE: Full of juniper and lemony citrus aromas.
FLAVOUR: Lemon with a touch of coriander, moving into juniper.
FEEL: Thin, slightly oily. Some heat on the back end.
FINISH: All juniper with the other botanicals taking a step back.
BEST ENJOYED: Some playful Gin & Tonic opportunities here.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Not a bad addition to the gin shelf. —Trevor Kallies, October 2017


Pemberton Distillery

Master distiller Tyler Schramm uses local organic Pemberton potatoes as the base for his extensive range of spirits
and liqueurs.

1954 Venture Pl., Pemberton
604-894-0222
PembertonDistillery.ca


PRODUCTS:

• Schramm Organic Gin
• Schramm Organic Potato Vodka
• Pemberton Valley Organic Single Malt Whisky
• The Devil’s Club – Organic Absinthe
• Organic Hemp Vodka
• Organic Kartoffelschnaps
• Byron’s Organic Coffee Liqueur
• Barrel Aged Apple Brandy
• Elderflower Liqueur
• Blueberry Liqueur
• Cherry Liqueur
• Strawberry Liqueur
• Whisky & Wild Honey Liqueur


TASTING NOTES:


Schramm Organic Potato Vodka

FRAGRANCE: Earthy; soil, wet wood, raw potato.
FLAVOUR: Dark chocolate, agave, smoky caramel.
FEEL: Bold, full-bodied, silky texture.
FINISH: Long, memorable, almost tequila-like.
BEST ENJOYED: Neat, or on the rocks for sipping; makes a great Martini with olives.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Not for everyone, but a fascinating finished product. Great example of traditional potato vodka using Scottish distillation techniques. —Scott Barber, April 2016


Schramm Organic Gin

FRAGRANCE: Fresh herbs, hints of citrus, lavender.
FLAVOUR: Subtle juniper, gooseberry.
FEEL: Off dry, light.
FINISH: Mild sweetness, herbaceous.
BEST ENJOYED: Fun to use with blackberries or Bing cherries in cocktails.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Fantastic local gin. Try some! —Scott Barber, July 2016


The Devil’s Club Organic Absinthe

FRAGRANCE: Fennel, anise, could be mistaken for Yellow Chartreuse.
FLAVOUR: Hints of hemp seed, anise is not overpowering, bright fennel, hops, warm wormwood.
FEEL: Perfect amount of silkiness.
FINISH: Finishes hot, bright, non offensive.
BEST ENJOYED: Neat, or in a cocktail emphasizing citrus.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A must try! Super fresh, it’s 60 per cent ABV, so go easy. —Scott Barber, October 2016


Organic Kartoffelschnapps

FRAGRANCE: Earth and honey.
FLAVOUR: Tastes like potato. Slightly sweet with gentle spicy notes.
FEEL: Good viscosity, full across the palate.
FINISH: Lingers at the back of your tongue, almost like candy.
BEST ENJOYED: Neat, on the rocks, or mixed into a cocktail as a secondary liqueur.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Unique and worth a try. I have not sampled anything like this before. —Scott Barber, February 2017


Whisky & Wild Honey Liqueur

FRAGRANCE: Whisky and honey. Surprise!
FLAVOUR: Vanilla. Leather.  
FEEL: Velvety. Soft and luxurious.
FINISH: Increasingly complex.
BEST ENJOYED: On the rocks. Maybe with more (peated) whisky added as a Rusty Nail alternative.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A tasty local alternative to products made abroad. —Josh Pape, October 2017


 

Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery

A family-owned award-winning distillery with a wide range of products to its name, including an absinthe, and both rye and single malt whiskies. Tours and tastings are available in both its locations.

5204 24th St., Vernon
267 Bernard Ave., Kelowna
250-549-3120  |  778-484-5174
OkanaganSpirits.com

Read more about Okanagan Spirits:

Spirited Away: B.C.’s oldest craft distillery has made an international impact
Fruitful endeavour: Family-owned distillery crafts world-class spirits from homegrown harvests


PRODUCTS:

• Essential Vodka
• Family Reserve Vodka
• Essential Gin
• Family Reserve Gin
• BRBN Bourbon-Style Corn Whisky
• Rye Whisky
• Okanagan Shine
• Taboo Genuine Absinthe
• Canados
• Kirsch Danube
• Old Italian Prune
• Poire Williams
• Raspberry Framboise
• Aquavitus
• Gewurztraminer Marc
• Pinot Noir Marc
• Blackberry Liqueur
• Blackcurrant Liqueur
• Blueberry Liqueur
• Cherry Liqueur
• Cranberry Liqueur
• Haskap Liqueur
• Raspberry Liqueur
• Rhubarb Liqueur
• Sea Buckthorn Liqueur


TASTING NOTES:


Poire Williams

FRAGRANCE: Sweet, ripe Bartlett pears.
FLAVOUR: Fruity, with a great boozy backbone.
FEEL: Clean, loads of mid-palate.
FINISH: Austere, dry, lean.
BEST ENJOYED: Neat, after a big meal.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A delicious introductory digestif. —Josh Pape, April 2016


Cherry Liqueur

FRAGRANCE: Cherry pit, fruit rollups, rose petals.
FLAVOUR: Tart cherry pie.
FEEL: Beautifully thin and bright.
FINISH: Cherry skins, rose water.
BEST ENJOYED: Remember The Main cocktail.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Great product showcasing Okanagan fruit. —Shaun Layton, July 2016


Maraschino Liqueur

FRAGRANCE: Sour cherry.
FLAVOUR: Sweet cherry with underlying almond.
FEEL: Mouth-coating.
FINISH: Relatively short.
BEST ENJOYED: In a Last Word cocktail.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Very excited to see this product. A popular ingredient in classic cocktail recipes, it is great to have a local iteration. —Robyn Gray, October 2016


Taboo Genuine Absinthe

FRAGRANCE: Refreshing hints of citrus from the lemon balm, pleasant fennel presence.
FLAVOUR: All the herbaceous notes you’d expect from absinthe.
FEEL: Great body, initial sensation of alcohol heat.
FINISH: Long, hot, delicious. 
BEST ENJOYED: Neat.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Try it neat without the sugar cube or any water dilution. —Scott Barner, February 2017


BRBN

FRAGRANCE: Certainly smells like a corn whisky. Has a sugary note as well.
FLAVOUR: Corn and oak, some mild vanilla on the front.
FEEL: Warm, slightly mouth coating. 
FINISH: Corn sticks around, shadowed by the alcohol heat.  
BEST ENJOYED: Good with some ginger ale and held up in an Old Fashioned.  
THE BOTTOM LINE: Interesting taste for a Canadian take on “BRBN.” —Trevor Kallies, October 2017