The South Okanagan is a fruitful playground for distillers to innovate and collaborate
“Smile, there’s gin,” says the chalked sign. Perched on the Naramata Bench, with a sleek tasting room and sunny patio overlooking Okanagan Lake, Legend Distilling could be mistaken for a hip winery. But a taste of its Doctors Orders gin puts me firmly in the spirit world as I begin my quest to discover what unites the South Okanagan Distillery Trail, a handful of stops mapped on a passport-style stamp card.
Sheringham Akvavit named Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year
One hundred and seventy-five. That’s a lot of spirits to taste, especially when they range from akvavit to amaro to apple brandy.
But throughout December 2017, that just what I and seven other spirits experts from coast to coast did, sniffing, swirling, sipping and occasionally spitting, as we judged the inaugural Canadian Artisan Spirits Awards.
FRAGRANCE: Dill, licorice. FLAVOUR: Anise heavy, funky fruit. FEEL:Thin. FINISH: Citrus and aniseed. BEST ENJOYED: In a Corpse Reviver #2. THE BOTTOM LINE: Mix with citrus and absinthe. —Shaun Layton, April 2016
Blessed Bean Coffee Vanilla Liqueur
FRAGRANCE:Raw vanilla; imagine opening a bag of vanilla bean pods. FLAVOUR:Milk, vanilla and coffee. Almost a barista drink. FEEL:Not as sticky as expected. Smooth and clean for a liqueur. FINISH:Nice coffee bitterness at the back. BEST ENJOYED:Great addition to coffee or latte, or on rocks as a decent after dinner option. THE BOTTOM LINE:Very good alternative to commercial coffee liqueurs. —Trevor Kallies, July 2016
Black Goat Vodka
FRAGRANCE:Sweet, lightly toasted grains. FLAVOUR:Vanilla, tropical fruits, white pepper. FEEL:Silky and soft. FINISH:Sweet, shorter. BEST ENJOYED:As your favourite highball. But darker. THE BOTTOM LINE:Bit gimmicky. If you want black vodka, go for it! —Josh Pape, October 2016
FRAGRANCE:Mild. FLAVOUR:Some heat with a decent amount of grain. FEEL:Innate creaminess. FINISH:Touch of grainy smoothness. BEST ENJOYED:Toss it in the freezer and drink it ice cold. THE BOTTOM LINE:Wax dipped with no tab, so required a knife to open. They leave a decent amount of grain flavour in the distillate so it is enjoyable to drink! —Trevor Kallies, February 2017