Best Rum Selection in Montreal and SAQ FAQs
What SAQ has the best selection of rums? And do you have any recommendations on rums in general. I have liked rum Barbancourt from Haiti, but it seems the price has been rising over the last few years. Do any other Carribean rums merit a taste?
My question has four other parts.
Second, what exactly does the different designation of SAQs mean, e.g. Classique, Select (?).... etc. about its size and general selection?
Third, is there any particular location or kind of designation that has or likely to have a good choice of rums?
Fourth, are special promotions and reduced prices implemented throughout the chain or do they vary from branch to branch?
Fifth, do hours vary from branch to branch or are they uniform?
I have generally felt that prices at the SAQ because of taxes and monopoly control are higher than the lowest prices for the same product in the US. For instance the New Hampshire State liquor stores regularly offer a sale price of Laphroig Single Malt in the low $40 range. I doubt that the SAQ would match that. On the other hand the SAQ does offer local products that are unavailable or rarely available in the States, e.g. ice cider. And the price of ice cider seems to have dropped since Pinnacle ceased to be the only major provider. Moreover for various reasons they may carry other products that are simply unavailable in the US. Can anyone suggest such products?
re: Mr F
Another rum worth mentioning is J.Bally Rhum Ambré. A french "rhum agricole" from Martinique. I've been in Quebec for 3 years and it's the first time I see it. I bought it from a SAQ Classique close to Concordia university, they only had 2 bottles left.
The brand is now made by the same distillery that makes Saint-James, but it's much better.
It's 29,45$ for the 700ml bottle.
I feel that you can't do much better than Havana Club. I got hooked on it in Cuba over the past few years and nothing else really itches the spot that this one reaches. The standard dark rum and the 7 years aged rums both have a wonderfully molasses flavor to them, which I love.
The best selection of Rum's is in Hawksbury at the LCBO, they have:
Ron Zacapa from Guatemala
El Dorado from Guyana
Brugal from Dominican Republic
These three Rums are produced in Distilleries that are old and have been making Rum this way forever.This makes a great difference in taste.These three brands have been winning Rum Taste contests around the world.Their selections run from everyday drinking Rums to some of the finest sipping Rums in the world.
Store description in french : http://bit.ly/c5g7tx
The SAQ store are (from low-end to high end):
Express : As the name says, it's the smaller and more convenient stores (usually open everyday to 10pm), smaller and less diverse selection.
Classique : The main "work-force" of the SAQ, larger selection, some more exclusive wines.
Selection : High end stores with bigger inventory, more exclusive wines.
Signature : High-High end selection (with no real low-end selection) , only a few (2) stores in the province)
The prices are set by the SAQ and all store will have the same prices (everywhere in the province, even at the most remote stores),
I think promotions are set for all the stores, but each store "directeur" can set different promotions and have exclusive products, but all the prices will be the same province-wise.
As for Rhum, I'm not an expert, Appleton works for me. For better selection, go to the Selection or Signature stores.
For more information on what is available, do an advanced search on the SAQ.com web site.
AFAIK, NH does not have sale tax (?)... so it's hard to make direct comparisons.
For small local producers, the SAQ does not do well in distributing them, you have better choices visiting the "Marché des saveurs" (at the Jean-Talon Market
7075 Avenue Casgrain, Montreal, QC H2S, CA
Indeed, NH does not have sales tax. Many people from Canada or other states cross over to buy in NH so many stores in NH is a warehouse with huge inventory, liquor included.
I don't believe Marche des Saveur sells hard liquor. I don't think they are allowed. If you are looking for desert wines, ciders or some local products though, it is wonderful.
As for the original question: Rum. Examine the SAQ website, they have accurate inventory listed for all stores. I suggest you go to your nearest Selection SAQ to get advice.
Signature is where you'll find the best selection of premium rum. And while Maximillien is correct that there's no low-end/regular selection there, in Montreal the Signature store is adjacent to a very small Classique outlet (on the lower level of the Signature, through the door near the New World wines).
AFAIK the regular Barbancourt has not been available for some years. There is now only Pango, a flavoured/spiced rum.
If you like the style and flavour of the 8-year-old Barbancourt, probably the most similar available is Havana Club Añejo Reserva. (The 7-year-old is also very good, but IMO not worth the extra 30% cost). This is a very widely available product, sold in everything from Express on up. But not available anywhere in the U.S.
It's not as good as I remember Barbancourt being, but still very good.