Time for Summer White

Margaret Swaine’s Spirits Review – May 2016

Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

Summer is finally about to arrive. Time to stock up on neat white spirits, ciders and perhaps one or two of the latest whiskies for late evening contemplation. Here follows are recommendations to tempt your taste buds.

Out of Norway comes a vodka made from ecologically farmed Norwegian potatoes called Norvegia Vodka. I like potato based vodka for their creamy texture and this well priced version is so good I’d keep it in the freezer and drink undiluted. Grays Peak Small Batch Vodka from the US uses five time distilled premium American corn as its base which it then charcoal filters. Cîroc from France is not technically a vodka as it’s made from grape spirit, but it sure tastes like a good one. 

Five seems to be a magic number as all the above spirits are five times distilled as is Pinnacle Vodka, which is made from a base of 100 per cent French wheat. Tag No 5 Vodka is guess what? Also distilled five times – from a base of Ontario sweet corn – and then filtered for five days through Ontario birch charcoal.

Skyy Vodka, didn’t seem to get the memo, as it’s quadruple distilled and triple filtered but that doesn’t stop it from being a silky fresh tipple.

Norvegia Vodka Grays Peak Small Batch Vodka Cîroc Original Pinnacle VodkaTag No.5 VodkaSkyy Vodka

SoCIAL LITE is a new vodka based beverage with an adult appeal (no sugar or sweeteners), low calories (just 80) and refreshing flavours such as SoCIAL LITE Ginger Lime and SoCIAL LITE Lemon Cucumber Mint. These are terrific to have on hand for a quick, all natural ‘healthy’ cocktail.

What’s summer without a G&T? Boodles Gin is a cocktail friendly, nicely balanced, London Dry Gin infused with rosemary and sage among its nine botanicals. As for tequila, I’m just loving Siempre Tequila Plata a fusion of single estate blue weber agave from the Highlands of Arandas and the Lowlands of Jalisco.

Social Lite Lime Ginger Boodles Gin Siempre Tequila Plata Ouzo BabatzimSkinos Mastiha Liqueur

I just came back from a tour around the Mediterranean and while on the Greek islands, sampled as much as I could of the various artisanal ouzos to enjoy the refreshing licorice-like hit of anise seed. Available here is Babatzim Ouzo with a really strong and delicious taste of anise and fennel. It freshens up the mouth so well. Another Greek specialty is mastiha based spirit (made from the sap of mastiha trees cultivated only on the small Mediterranean island of Chios) and Skinos makes an excellent version.

From France Jacoulot Crème de Cerise-Gingembre Liqueur is a fresh way to jazz up a sparkling wine or cocktail. The tangy sour cherry and spicy ginger really come through well.

Jacoulot Crème De Cerise Gingembre Liqueur Canadian Club Chairman’s Select 100% Rye J.P. Wiser's Last Barrels Canadian Whisky The Quiet Man Traditional Irish Whiskey The Quiet Man 8 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey

New on the whisky front is Canadian Club Chairman’s Select 100% Rye which is tailor-made for a terrific Manhattan or Old Fashioned. J.P. Wiser’s Last Barrels, aged 14 years, has the complexity to make it a serious sipping style whisky.

Coming in this summer in limited quantity from Ireland are The Quiet Man Traditional Irish Blend Whiskey and The Quiet Man 8 Year Old Single Malt. Both are great additions to the whisky inventory.

Ernest Dry Cider Strongbow Gold Cider Molson Canadian Cider

This is also going to be the summer of ciders with new Canadian cideries popping up across the country and imports flowing in. Ernest Cider, sourced from Ontario apples, is slow fermented for months to achieve 6.4% alcohol and much less sugar than the average cider. Strongbow, the number one cider brand in the world has come up with new variants such as “Strongbow Gold” which has an extra hit of golden apple flavour. Molson Coors has a growing cider portfolio starting with Molson Canadian Cider.

Okay beer drinkers, how do you like them apples?

Margaret Swaine

To find these and other picks at stores near you, click on: Margaret’s Whisky and Spirits

Editors Note: You can find Margaret’s complete reviews by clicking on any of the names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 60 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great spirits!

Norvegia Vodka