March 8, 2012

Sticky Whisky

I’ve hinted at this product a few times before in previous posts, even going so far as to serve the Canadian dessert beverage extravaganza at our North of 9 pairing dinners.  In terms of popular drinks here in Ontario, Sortilège is a concept that is relatively unknown. In Québec, they clearly understand – eau de vie d'érable, brandy maple – this stuff is incredible!  I was at the Montreal airport last month where I always take a quick stroll though duty-free shop before departure.  There are normally several hundred bottles of Sortilège for sale.  This time though the shelves were empty.  Travellers and tourists from abroad had clean-out the stock and I am told that storekeepers are unable to keep up with the demand.  Yes, it is that good!

I first stumbled upon Sortilège in the late 90s while visiting Québec City.  The province of Québec tops Canada in terms of maple syrup production, but pancakes and French toast only hint at the potential uses for Mother Nature’s liquid gold.  The French folk next door also know their wine and spirits as well as any of us Anglophone types here in Ontario.  And in terms of gastronomic pleasure, they have combined the natural sweetness of maple syrup and the warmth of Canadian whisky to create a taste and textural sensation unlike anything else.

A flurry of adjectives cannot do this beverage justice – you must try it.  I know people who dribble it over ice cream, mix it into cocktails, and even lace their coffee with a dash.   The traditional way however, is to serve Sortilège at room temperature over the rocks in a lowball glass.  The chill of the ice dances across your palate as it flirts with the warmth of the alcohol and the intoxicating sweetness of the maple syrup – Fantastique! 

Until recently, I have travelled to Québec for the sole purpose of purchasing this drink.  Now it is sold here in Ontario at the LCBO for $29 in 750ml bottles for $6 less than in Québec!  I’ve linked this post to the product on the LCBO website below: simply select Find Stores, and go get it!  You’ll find it in the spirits section.

- You can thank me later.

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Tyler is a member of the Wine Writers' Circle of Canada and the Guild of Sommeliers. He writes about and reviews wine both online and via a variety of circulating publications. In 2009 Tyler founded North of 9 Fine Wine, a free public wine education resource where he publishes his Thoughts, Theory, and Recommendations. For additional vinous related information and learning, follow on Twitter @TylerOnWine