Sortilege, and other artisinal liquors/bevvys
I have been a huge fan of sortilege for the past 5 years, and have taken advantage of every trip up north to stock up on this drink for the winter months. Nothing warms the soul on a cold, winter night like a glass of maple whiskey.
I was curious if there are any other companies that make this drink, or is it just La Maison des Futailles.
I've also noticed that this company makes a number of other liquors - cloudberry liquor, etc. I've tried their maple eau de vie, which I thought was awful, but I was wondering if any of the other ones were of merit.
Also, some one on this board had mentioned ice cider, which I assume is a cider maed from frozen apples, in a way that ice wines are made. Are there any "must-try" varieties of this.
Oh, and last, I'm determined to find sortilege in a bar, but have yet to this date been unable to find it. Any Montreal (or Quebec City) bars where I can enjoy this?
La Maison des Futailles is an arm of the SAQ and for years they zealously made sure only their products were on offer at SAQ outlets. That's finally changing, and many outlets now have a "Produits de terroir" stand that features a small selection of Quebec and Ontario (!) wines, fruit wines, liqueurs, aperitifs, digestifs, ciders and meads (for some reason, ice ciders and some sweet wines are often displayed elsewhere). I have it on good authority that a "Quebec Specialties" section is about to be added to the SAQ's website (go to www.saq.com and click the L button at the top of the page to go to the English analogue); it will have descriptions of the 70-odd products on offer and the estates that produce them (with hyperlinks to those that have websites), including tasting notes, recommended food matches, etc.
BTW, several of these products and others besides can be purchased at Le marché des saveurs, the fascinating Quebec products store on the southeast corner of the Jean-Talon Market.
It's also worth mentioning that although wine and cider have been made in Quebec for decades, centuries even, until recently it could be only for the producer's personal consumption. Marketing to the general public began only in the 1980s, and at first could take place only at the cellar door. In other words, as in several other artisanal industries (cheese making, for example), production is only getting started and much is in flux. I'm still waiting for a really delicious Normand-style dry apple or pear cider or apple brandy (like Calvados). And I really don't understand why no one is making eaux-de-vie like Frambroise or Poire Williams (some exquisite ones are being made on the West Coast--the SAQ has stocked St. George Spirits' wonderful California Framboise--so it's not like the French have a monopoly on the production techniques or anything).
The cloudberry liqueur you mention (Chicoutai?) is tasty enough, if too sweet for my tastes; it also doesn't capture the soul of the fruit. I've never seen it offered at a bar or restaurant, though it has shown up in a few restaurant desserts. I've always suspected cloudberries would make a haunting totally dry eau-de-vie. And lacking the raw material, France and the West Coast are totally out of the running, so some enterprising Quebecer (or Newfie, since the berries grow in profusion there and in Labrador) could make a splash with a truly innovative product. Wonder why they don't, especially with the example of another Quebec product, ice cider, dangling before them.
Take La Face cachée de la Pomme's Neige, for example. In late 2001, it was served at an official reception in Paris. A few months later, it was picked up by Galleries Lafayette. By last summer, it was available at 30 or so outlets in the Paris area, and interest is being expressed by other European distributors. Neige is generally considered to be the best product in this relatively new category. See John Green's excellent descriptions in the thread "Quebec-produced Wine? - Patti 19:28:12 10/12/02".
La route des vins du Québec:
There's also a Route des cidres du Québec, but I don't think they have a website.
Haven't been paying attention to what's on which resto's wine list, UnC. Toqué!'s website says they serve Neige by the glass and bottle.
I believe there are now five ice ciders on offer at the SAQ. Since sales are handled by the SAQ, the producers may not know where their products are being poured. Some of the producers have websites and e-mail, so you could always try contacting them directly.
- Cidre de Glace Saint-Nicolas (Cidrerie Saint-Nicolas)
- Du Minot des Glaces (Cidrerie du Minot) www.duminot.com
- Neige (La face cachée de la pomme) www.cidredeglace.com/english/
- Pomme de Glace (Clos Saint-Denis) www.clos-saint-denis.qc.ca
- Pommes sur Neige (Les vergers Lafrance
Domaine Pinnacle's ice ciders are sold only at the cellar door and through a few specialty shops like Le marché des saveurs at Jean-Talon Market. Their website includes a list of retailers that stock their products and restaurants that serve them (the Montreal restos include Area, Bonaparte, Chorus, Globe, Laloux, L'Express, Mediterraneo, Passe-Partout and Soto). See: www.icecider.com/icecider/e/purchase....
There may be other ice ciders on offer at Le marché des saveurs, too.