Saturday, March 5, 2016 —Reported by Dawn Harvie
A group of Guild members and guests gathered together on a Saturday afternoon to taste some local spirits.
Jody Miall (pictured below with the White Dog) and Greg Lipin are the co-owers of North of 7, the first distillery in Ottawa. Jody met us and regaled us with tales about setting up the distillery. They faced all sorts of challenges and red tape. On such example was having to provide a sample of spirit while not legally able to have a still. They got permission to build the still temporarily to produce the sample and then had to disassemble the still.
We tasted their four standard products as well as several products they are working on.
The Illuminati Vodka is a corn and cane sugar-based vodka. It goes through a carbon filter process that removes any off flavours. It had a clean nose. On the palate it was fairly smooth with a bit of spice. The vodka is the base for the Triple Beam Gin. Triple Beam because the botanicals are measured on a triple beam scale. There are 11 different botanicals used in this vapor-infused gin including a significant percentage of juniper. The gin is pleasant and easy-drinking. It is elegant in its flavours of juniper and herbs.
We next tasted the Leatherback Rum (one year old). The rum is made of molasses and is aged in charred American oak barrels. The rum was pleasant with some peaty notes and a bit of sweet caramel. Someone described it as being like Lagavulin Whisky. We then tasted a single barrel rum aged 18 months. It had some sweetness, some caramel and spice. It was smooth and very easy drinking.
Next we tried the White Dog, which is the fresh whisky pulled off of the North of 7 Whisky. The White Dog has the nose of dusty grains/barley and has a lovely palate with a bit of sweetness. The smooth flavours were unexpected and appreciated in this spirit at 60.7% abv.
We then tried a bit of the four-grain bourbon-style North of 7 Whisky, which is aged in barrel for three years and is expected to be ready next year. It is composed of 55% corn, 25% rye, 10% wheat and 10% barley. The first sample we tried was 10 months old. It had some smokey oak on the nose. The initial attack was a bit rough, but then there was a sweetness and caramel notes.
Then we tried a 22-month-old sample. It was smokey and quite smooth. It will be interesting to try the whisky when it has beed aged the full three years.
Three of their regular products, Illuminati Vodka, Triple Beam Gin and Leatherback Rum, are available at the LCBO. The White Dog is only available at the distillery.
After going through the tasting, we were given a tour of the facility and told about the spirit making process. It was a fun, interesting and educational event.