SAQ Wine and Spirits

I had a thread I was updating pretty frequently on chowhound and I thought of bringing my observations here as a basis for further discussions. We have a closed wine and spirits market in Quebec so its interesting to discuss each other’s taste. This will be a long first post.

I usually go for these bottle for a good value profile I enjoy

Kerpen Spatlese

I really enjoy german style rieslings and they are usually too expensive for a casual buy. The german rieslings I enjoy are boterysed, meaning they are subject to a mushroom that drinks the water in the grape and concentrate the sugars. Their classification varies on the time the grape has been left on the vine and will indicate the amount of sugar content. The “Kabinett” classification will be the dryest of the lot, followed by “Spatlese”, “Auslese”, “Beerenauslese” and Trockenbeerenauslese". I enjoy Auslese most but I find that a bottle of cheap Kerpen Spatlese does the job when I have a desire for a quick hit of german rieslings!

Lenz Mosel Trockenbeerenauslese

375 ml
If you want to try an inexpensive version of trockenbeerenauslese (think ice wine), try the austrian version. It uses the german classification and is way less expensive.

Chateau Imperial Tokaj

Another wine that has an interesting trace of sweetness while still being dry. The tokaj region of hungary has long been renowned for its desert wines. They have started to diversify recently by producing different wines with interesting results!

Bourgogne Aligoté

750 ml
I never remember which bottle of bourgogne aligoté I prefer so I pretty much always buy a bottle at random. I know Liverpool house had Bechelder last time I went but getting a mid 20$ bottle of aligoté kinda goes againt what I originaly liked about that wine: it was a cheap, good quality white with a good acidity and a touch of minerality. A good summer wine.

Chianti Ruffino

750 ml
I love love love chianti and the one Ruffino makes I love best. Tried a ton of other ones but I always come back to Ruffino. Don’t know why. Its cheap too. I always feel a bit guilty loving something so… cheap and mainstream but I don’t mind at the end… wine you enjoy is wine you enjoy.

Chateau de Dyonis Pineau Noir

A 10$ Romanian red wine has no business being that good. We bought that bottle on a bet to try less mainstream regions and we were really impressed by that bottle. I remember it being very round and fruity. Very enjoyable.

L’orangerie de Pennautier

Another bottle of red that a friend brought to a supper that I enjoyed. Inexpensive but interesting.

Chateau Imperial Tokaj 3 Puttonyos (Aszu)

I talked to you about the famous Tokaji wines from the Hungary region. This is one of them. If you enjoy ice wines, ice ciders, sauternes or Vendanges Tardives (i.e.: desert wines) this one is worth a short. Wine from Tokay had a similar reputation to the now prestigious Chateau d’Yquem in previous times (it was apparently a favorite of the courts of europe). They are made from boterysed grapes in a type of wine called Azsu. They have a sugar ranking that goes from low (1 puttonyos) to very sugary (5 puttonyos). The more sugary the wine the more expensive it is.

Klein Constantia Vin de Constance

That one has an interesting story. Vin de Constance are south african dessert wines that used to be all the rage in the 18th and 19th century europe. However, the phylloxera epidemic (a blight that came with a species of insect imported from america) killed most of the vines in south africa. This type of wine became extinct until the 1980’s when it became a guy’s pet project to resurrect this wine variety in the same terroir. You can now sample a previously extinct brand of wine mentioned in some of Jane Austen and Charles Dicken’s novels.

Coteaux du Layon Domain Patrick Beaudoin Les Buandières

This is a wine I discovered to my great dismay at Pullman. Following a discussion with the sommelier on my newfound interest in german dessert wines he gave me a glass of this coteaux du layon to try. I immediately fell in love. Honey, vanilla, a very soft, very round mouthfeel, good viscosity, none of the bite or alcohol edge some dessert wine develop, none of this eau de rose perfume I dislike in Alsace desert wines, just an enveloping sweet bothrytis wine with a round welcoming finish. I say “to my great dismay” because it wasn’t available at the SAQ at the time. I tried Moulin Touchais and Domaine FL 4 villages but it just wasn’t the same. I immediately impulse buyed the first bottle I saw at the SAQ and almost wept in joy. The price of the bottle makes it a special buy however and its well beyond my “impulse buy” range. Still less expensive than most good sauternes, auslese and vin de constance though and really an excellent wine.

Planeta Passito di Noto

House Planeta is a sicilian producer that I enjoy and it never lead me wrong. Whether I enjoyed or not the grapes or the terroir I never remember having a “bad” Planeta wine. It could change but for now they have a positive connotation. My favorite product of theirs is, wait for it, a dessert wine. I’ve had it for myself and served it to friends and family with continued success.

**Bernhard Ott Fass 4 **


Loved it. Absolutely in my ballpark. Good fruit, very round, good acidity but not dominant, not a strong attack or finish but big round fruit in the middle. No minerality, perfume, not too dry. I’d have to try it neck and neck with a bechelder bourgogne aligoté (which is in the same range in price). might prefer the Bernhard Ott. Bought the 15.80 bottle instead because 10-20$ is my impulse buy range and 20-30$ is usually my weekend range (anything over 30$ goes in the category “special occasion”.

Fonte de Nico


Mild attack opening a bit more in the middle. The attack is ok, a bit of rise in acidity opening up to a nice understanded fruitness. The middle is quite pleasant. The finish, however, has hints of cardboard and is a bit sour with a bit of a raw aftertaste that is not really interesting. Nice little wine but I fear the finish does not endear it to me. I’d cook with this wine or do a sangria with it but I would prefer the Chevalier de Dyonis in that “category” (10 ish dollars or below).

Its a bit of a shame really. Liked 2/3 of the experience. If the finish would cut it sharp and clean instead of lingering on with it would be way better.

**Veltlinsky Grüner Veltliner 2014 **


Its a very young wine. The attack is lively and vivacious, with a bit of fizz, the middle is pretty acid, strong citrus, a bit grassy, the finish is pretty long and all in acidity. Not much minerality, pretty straight, could be a bit rounder. Lets say straight and long. The Bernhard Ott Fass had rounder fruit, a bit more caracter and a cleaner finish less in acidity. All in all I prefer the Bernhard Ott Fass but the Veltinsky is a very nice summer wine. Maybe I’m wrong but it makes be thing of a Vinho Verde.

Yalumba Rosé


Very enjoyable, not sugary, not cloying, no perfume or rosewater. Not too large but good lenght. Pretty light but crisp. Strong berries in the middle. Quite a pleasant wine. Everyone enjoyed it. You could be drinking a white wine but for the berries in the middle.

I would not hesitate to buy another bottle but I would prefer a bigger middle, stronger berries and more residual sugar. I guess I’m looking for something a bit more intense and sugary.

Buti Nages


Very light rosé. As promised, no perfume, no rosewater. Not a ton of sugar or acidity. Very very light but a very present strawberry in the middle. Its like drinking strawberry essence. Light, pleasant, slightly aromatic. I would have preferred a bit more power and a bit more sugar. Overall a nice experience. Would not hesitate to buy it again but its not my platonic rosé.

Vieux Moulin Mead


The “vieux moulin” mead has impressed everyone and will probably ascend to “safety bottle everpresent in the fridge” status. Its that good, and at 13$, you can bring it everywhere without shame. Plus it has a great story: a local quebec cider from gaspésie. Bonus points: few know what to expect from hydromel. If anybody asks you how much it cost it won’t be because they find it unpleasant; they’ll ask because they want to buy a bottle for themselves.



Mateus is a Portuguese rosé wine that costs around 10$. It is extremely suspect but comes with a good story. “Supersizers go” is an english food tv show that explores food in different eras of england. The one in the 70’s had a party in which everybody brought a bottle of Mateus as a “hostess gift” (without even talking to each other). Curious, I had to try to taste to what might be a prehistoric variation to what we know as “rosé” now.

You can find the “supersizers go” show on youtube:

It was a very bad mistake. Mateus is classified (along with Baby Duck bubbly) as one of the worst experience of drinking anything wine related in my life. Its as if the producer decided to make a rosé by blending two underwhelming bottom shelf supermarket wine (red and white respectively) and hoping for the best.

It is aggressively bad, with a hint of tannin that highlights the wet cardboard taste of bad red wine mixed with a hint of cheap piney off market white. It has an aftertaste of cheap labor and communism. It also has a slight fizz of young wine that does nothing to alleviate the traumatism of drinking the worst wine you had in the last 10 years (maybe 20, I was quite young when I decided to buy that baby duck bottle).

Nobody in my party of friends liked it. Some struggled to finish their glass. I took it like a man and decided to finish the bottle myself. I felt both proud that I could handle such punishment and a bit disappointed for submitting myself to such a trial out of sheer pride.

Poiré de glace


Trying right now a “poiré de glace” from Domaine de Lavoie. Poiré de glace is a pear sweet wine made through “cryo concentration”. It is the same process that makes icewines or ice ciders and is sometimes made throught a natural process (the sugars being naturally concentrated in apples left on trees… as I believe “la face cachée de la pomme” does) or an artificial process of cold concentration (like “pomme de glace” from “clos st-denis”), I don’t know if “poiré de glace” is made through an artificial process or natural but I believe it is probably made through artificial means.

For this tasting, I will compare it to my memories of my favorite ice cider, Neige from “La face cachée de la pomme”. It is a lot less sweet and a lot less wide than Neige. A lot shorter too and less acidic. We definitely taste the pear but there is also a bit of acridity and some less pleasant granular pear on the back of the palette. I guess it lacks a bit of finesse and offers the good and the bad side of the pear. I still prefer ice cider, I believe I tasted better ice pear cider and would not buy this particular product again.

Vin gris de Cigare


The story around that wine is pretty interesting. The wine was created as an interpretation of an esoteric variant of a southern côte du rhone rosé wine. Apparently vin gris, in contrast to strict rosé wine, are produced by pressing red wine grape without any aditional skin contact (contrary with rosé wine which leave the skin for a limited amount of time).

Well, it was enough for me to buy a bottle and try it.

The wine is very well made. Unfortunately, at its core it has a strong perfumy eau de rose quality that I strongly dislike. It is not cloying and I can appreciate its quality and craftsmanship but it is unfortunately exactly the type of wine I try to stay away from. If you ever liked Rieslings from the Alsace region but found them too sugary try the Vin gris de cigare from Bonny Doon. You’ll probably like it. If, like me, you try to stay away from Alsace wines because they are perfumy… well… stay away from that one.

Classic case of a nice wine that doesn’t fit my taste.

Chateau de Lancyre


Château de Lancyre is pretty complex and a bit hard to describe. Its miles ahead of Mateus (everything is miles ahead of Mateus). The initial attack is pretty understated but the middle of the palate is pretty acid. There is a bit of lemon zest there. Its a bit tart and there is a bit of the bitterness of the white pulp of the lemon that goes with the zest. Its pretty pleasant actually. Hints of berries also but no residual sugar. It is a bit mineral but not too much, just enough to provide balance to the acidity. Pretty dry. Pretty long too. It ends in a steadily declining acidity slope. The very end is a point of bitterness mixed with a bit of acidity.

Its a lot more complex than the Buti Nage. A lot less strawberry in the middle too. Closer to the Yalumba Rosé but I’d have to compare them side to side to get a better opinion. Its nothing like the “Vin Gris” I’ve tasted as there is no perfume or eau de rose.

I’d buy it again. Pretty complex. The kind of wine 4 people around a table would taste four different flavour profile.

Ciffhanger Riesling


I generally enjoy german rieslings for their play between acidity and inherent sweetness. This one is a pretty low cost riesling in the “Qualitatswein” category (one category less sugary than Kabinett, usually pretty dry compared to, say, a Auslese.) I don’t drink a ton of “Qualitatswein” so I didn’t know what to expect.

On the nose, it is definitly a german riesling. I don’t know if this one is Botherysed but it definitely smells familiar . On taste its a lot weaker than what I’m used too. A lot less acidity, a bit of residual sugar (it still has 25 g/l) but nothing to offset it. Not enough acidity overall and not enough edge. The is a hint of acidity in the attack followed by a weird roundish funky fruitiness in the middle. The finish is fruity and pretty long. The aftertaste is a bit funky and unpleasant.

Its a weird wine. A bit too long, A lot of body but doesn’t quite hit the right notes. Funky, fruity, round-ish. Its not satisfying.

Happy to try it, will try other Qualitatswein Rieslings but will not buy this one again.

Badenhorst Sécateurs


This is my first foray in Chenin Blanc and this one was a specific recommendation from a SAQ employee I kinda trust.

This is a strange beast. The attack is a bit acidulate without being too acid. You expect the acid to peak or to lead to a mineral finish but it just opens up to a slight fruity tanginess in the middle of the mouth. Lemon becoming a tangerine. The finish is slighly bitter. Lemon pith. Not super pleasant on its own but it fits holistically. Mouthfeel is pretty wide and varied. Long enough. You do get a slight remaining sense of acidity at the end of the dish.

The flavors pretty are volatile and you get to understand that the flavor profile could be subject to interesting variations when pared to different dishes, tasted by different people or even depending on the time of the day.

Overall I would buy again and will try other chenin blancs.

I am a bad bad west islander- I shop at the LCBO. I chuckled that you even bought Mateus. I’m no wine snob, but… LOL

Must hunt down that cheap Romanian, though!

I don’t have a car so LCBO is too far for me :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m not always after the best wine. Sometimes I’ll try a bad wine if it has a good story. I just wasn’t prepared for how bad Mateus was going to be.

Here’s another bottle that has an interesting story. Thomas Jefferson was an incredible wine enthousiast (a taste he developed while being a US minister to France). He was obsessed with developing a wine using the french method with native north american grapes (Vitis I believe). It didn’t help that European genus had a hard time resisting the american weather.

It never really had success. To this day there are still producers of wine in the USA using the native north american plants but it never really took off because it apparently taste weird. It never could be commercialized. I have a friend who came back with a bottle of that wine from North Carolina (I think it is made from Muscadine grapes). We are just waiting for an occasion to taste it.

The taste is apparently very musky. There might be one in six that finds it interesting (I’m thinking back to when I tasted Greek Retsina wine as a possible point of comparison) but what a story! I’m eager to try it even if I know I might find it unpleasant.

See for more information on the subject:

Glad to see this thread came to join us here!

I am having a bit of a cocktail obsession of late and am bar tending for a few holiday parties, so I have been visiting the SAQ on a fairly regular basis. I just wanted to share a few of my latest likes and dislikes in general.

I was ecstatic to find out that they take sealed bottles of alcohol back. I had a friend give me a bottle of Peach Schnapps (shudder) a few months ago and could not think of anything I would ever want do with it (and that includes using it as a cleaning product). The SAQ happily exchanged it. Because I had no receipt I needed to credit it towards a purchase right away (not a problem). Apparently any sealed bottle of wine can be returned within a year and spirits can be returned as long as the label is not ripped or torn and is still the label that is currently in use. Now to decide about the cucumber vodka that she gave me for my birthday…

My main dislike at the moment is the truly atrocious vermouth/amari selection. Perhaps not atrocious, but certainly pedestrian. No Punt e Mes, no Carpano Antico, no Noilly Prat (although I could have sworn I bought some a few years ago), Cocchi never in stock (and if it is, there is ONE bottle of it in Gatineau), no Vya, no Dolin anywhere in the province the day I went shopping (only to appear a week later).

Karela, do you use the SAQ website to find a wine and see whether any stores nearby are carrying it? However, I did try Noilly Prat, and the search engine just took me to unrelated vermouths. According to Beppi Crosiarol of the Gloe and Mail, they have pulled out of Canada:

I have a friend with a motorbike who sometimes heads to Hawkesbury, but the season is ending and obviously he can’t carry more than a bottle back for friends.

Many, many Québec plates outside that store and at the big Rideau Street one in Ottawa.

A cheap wine I like is the Portuguese Fonte do Nico.

Yes, this is one of those rare threads that can help a bit everybody. It helps me because it provides me with a record for further reference, it helps others in getting opinions of regular folks on wine and it has generated a steady stream of recommendations that has been very helpful to me in the past!

I do a bit of cocktail exploration on the side (is it a surprise? :smiley:) and have my own favourites. I definitely remember buying Noilly Prat in the past from the SAQ. Think I saw Punt e Mes randomly at a SAQ selection somewhere. Usually the one at McGill metro (near “les ailes de la mode”) will have the most obscure hard to find stuff on an occasional basis. I’m not a huge fan of vermouth based drinks although I’ve been rediscovering Manhattans with the new 100% Rye variants coming to us recently (with great joy I must say!).

Here are my preferred brands by category:

White rum:
Havana Club Anejo 3 Anos

My rum bible and favorite tiki cocktail book (see list Havana Club as one of their favorite rum (and they do have an extensive list) and recommend using it if the reader can find it outside the USA. Not much more expensive than the Bacardi (24.50$ vs 22.45$) and has a superior reputation. Their note on the subject in the “Light (white) Puerto Rican Rum” category:

“This dry, clear spirit has long been the go-to rum for most tropicals, but today Puerto Rico no longer exports a decent light rum. (…) If you live ouside the US, go for Cuba’s Havana Club Silver - but study the label before buying since Bacardi is slated to introduce its own Havana Club clone in the near future”

Golden/Dark rum
El Dorado Original Dark Superior Demerara

Best value for the money hands down!

Sipping rum

Haven’t explored a lot of the sipping rum scene. I’m a bit wary of it since rum has known such an inflation in prices and brands in the last years and I’ve been busy with scotch, rye and bourbons. Barbancourt is my current mainstay but there could be better. Tried Havana Club premium rhums but there is some tabacco on the tongue that’s turning me off. Like the butter notes of Appleton (even though its very industrial) so I could see myself trying some of their premium brands.

Mixing Vodka

To me all mixing vodka are the same so I might as well encourage a polish vodka. My decision was made after watching the documentary “Wodka wars” by Vice (see

Sipping Vodka
Pur Ultra Premium

This one has an interesting story. I was at a bar discussing cocktail and spirit with a bartender and I was mocking the vodka aficionados a bit since most of the guys asking for a vodka brand by name (say, Grey Goose) would probably not be able to find their favorite vodka in a batch of 10 randomly selected bottles.

He told me for the most part that it was true but that he just received a quebec distilled vodka that was very good.

I took a look at the label and just laughed at him. I mean… who calls their vodka “pur ultra premium”? I probably could not think of a name that would define “expensive overated crap” better if I spent a week searching.

He gave me a dram on the house and I took a sip. I was convinced and bought a bottle shortly after. The trick to this vodka is its finish, Most vodka will give you a slight alcohol burn on the finish. This one doesn’t have any… only a peppery aftertaste. It was a bit akin to trying good tequila after decades of bottom shelf crap. It has become my pocket vodka ever since.

Dry Vermouth (white)
Dolin Vermouth Blanc de Chambery

I’m not a big vermouth fan but this one seems to do the job

Sweet vermouth (red)

I used to buy Dolin but it doesn’t seem available. The SAQ selection seems really thin (just 3 brands? where did it all go?) so I wouldn’t know. I’d stay away from the czech one though. Would probably choose Martini with a heavy hearth if I had to.

Fortified wine (white)
Lillet blanc

I just have to mention Lillet here. Its such a precious enjoyable little thing. Great on its own or even better as a cobbler (see for the recipe).

Mixing Bourbon - long drink
Jim Beam Black

The black label is only 2$ more expensive than the white label and is aged 6 years. Well worth the increase in price if you ask me. One of the less expensive bourbon at the SAQ. Great value

Mixing Bourbon - short drink
Buffalo Trace Kentucky Bourbon

If I want something a bit more premium than Jim Beam to mix (lets say I’m making an old fashioned), I’ll likely choose Buffalo Trace. Interesting tidbit: they are the same guys who produce the famed Old Rip Van Winkle bourbon.

Sipping Bourbon
Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage Kentucky Bourbon

My favorite dram of bourbon, hands down, is still Evan Williams Single Barrel. Very sweet, good body, good width and lenght, great caramel and vanilla tones… I’ve still yet to find a bourbon I appreciate more in Quebec.

Canadian Club 100% Rye

I’m still new to 100% Rye whiskey. Our american friends have a lot of great choices (I’m thinking of Sazerac and Van Rittenhouse, who I still have yet to find) but the canadian market have been pretty bare as of late. Canadian Whiskeys can always be called " Rye whiskey" 100% Rye they are not.

I’m still flabbergasted at how much I appreciate the entry level Canadian Club 100% rye whiskey. My manhattan tasted… magical with it. It suddenly made so much sense. I swore to find a bottle of Sazerac or Van Rittenhouse if I went back to the states. I still have to try the Knob Creek Rye

Mixing Whiskey
Crown Royal

If I need a cheap whiskey to mix (lets say in a whiskey sour), Crown Royal is my whiskey of choice. At 28.95$, its a good value for the money.

Irish Whiskey
Bushmills Malt 10 years

Jameson shots are pretty frequent in Irish pubs. I dislike Jameson but I do enjoy Bushmills very much. The 10 years is 14$ more expensive than the entry level but I think its worth it especially since you’ll probably be sipping it. If you’re thinking shots, go with the white label at 32$.

Cragganmore 12 years Highland Scotch Single Malt

I’m still pretty new in the scotch game (it can be a pretty expensive habit). Not surprisingly, like more newcomers, I tend to prefer Speyside Scotch as I’m not a big fan of peat or smoke. I enjoy “Jason’s Scotch Whisky Reviews” narrative style (see and he rated Cragganmore 12 years pretty high. I must say I enjoyed it very much.

My next buy is probably the classic Glenmorangie Original 10 years, which is appreciated by a lot of my whiskey loving friends. My friends who enjoy islay are absolutely bonkers on Lagavulin 16 years but at 118.75$ a bottle, its an expensive proposition.

Mixing Gin
Tanqueray Rangpur

I used to be a big fan of Bombay Sapphire. Then Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray released non premium gins with alternative aromatics (Bombay Sapphire East and Tanqueray Rangpur respectively). I did a comparative tasting and I prefer Tanqueray Rangpur’s mix of aromatics in my gin tonics (that’s where I use most of my mixing gins)

Sipping Gin
Victoria Gin

I’ve yet to find a gin I prefer to Victoria Gin and I’ve tried many. My preferred way of enjoying it is in a gimlet with Rose’s Lime Cordial (1 part gin, 3/4 part cordial, on the rocks… no need to shake, just build it in a whiskey tumbler and stir)

Sauza Hornitos Plata

I haven’t tried a lot of tequila. I usually try to find the cheapest 100% agave white tequila for my cocktails.

Orange liqueur

Triple sec, Cointreau and Orance curacao are all part of the same family. The main difference between meagher’s triple sec and the brand name cointreau that triple sec uses orange flavorings to impart its orange flavour while cointreau uses genuine orange peels. The difference in price sets is 12$. I tend to prefer having Cointreau in my bar because in my mind its a superior product.

Haven’t tried Ferrand Dry Curacao ( although I’m pretty curious. About the same price as Cointreau.

Please note that grand marnier is in the same family but it uses cognac as its base liqueur before flavoring so its not a clear alternative to triple sec/cointreau in cocktails.

Amaro Nonino

There are a metric ton of different Amaro at the SAQ but I was so happy to find Nonino, reputed as being one of the best for the paper plane cocktails (see: I haven’t been let wrong!

Italian liquors

A great italian aperitif that taste like sweet, slighly bitter oranges. If you haven’t tried Aperol Spritz you must! Very easy recipe: 3 parts procecco, 2 parts aperol, 1 part soda! On the rocks or straight in a wine glass!

Italian Bitters
Nardini Bitters
Presently unavailable

I was lucky enough to fall on a bottle of Nardini at a SAQ selection one day and was really happy with my purchase. A great alternative to campari.

Yes, I do those SAQ searches since I often look for obscure things and my closest SAQ is a tiny one. Glad I am not going bonkers about the Noilly Prat… I wish I had a car and could zip down to the LCBO, perhaps we will rent one for a weekend this winter and I will do that.

Wow, CaptCrunch! Another extensive list. I will reply in kind when I have a spare hour or so (as in, next year :slight_smile: )

You HAVE TO try that Ferrand Dry Cucaçao. I got it because I am making the “Pegu” cocktail and also did some research into what the differences are. Apparently Grand Marnier is cognac based, Curaçao is brandy based and Cointreau/Triple sec are neutral spirit based. The Pegu calls for Curaçao and I had a knee jerk “blech” reaction thinking of blue curaçao. When I checked out the SAQ website and saw the bottle, I decided to try some out immediately ( I am a graphic designer and hence a sucker for pretty labels). It is not only nice in the Pegu, but amazing as a “sipping” orange liqueur. In fact, I try not to leave it on the counter lest I be tempted into sipping at all hours.

My main complaint is that the bloody lid doesn’t screw closed properly- it just keeps turning in circles. Normally not a problem, but I have been going to friends places to try out the Pegu on them and don’t always keep the bottle completely upright, so it is getting a bit sticky.

Cool! I’ll put it in my notes!

To be honest, I’ll have to refill my whiskey/bourbon cupboard first as I bought a bottle of mole bitters to do a mole old fashioned and I liked it so much I think I drank all the whiskey left in my house (there wasn’t a lot left, I don’t drink a ton and I usually invite people for cocktails).

BTW, if you like to make cocktails my favorite youtube barmen are Chris McMillan ( ) and Robert Hess ( )

As you can see, there is no Noilly Prat in Ontario either. I wonder if I’d like Lillet? I’m not one for cocktails - fairly orthodox wino - but it could be interesting if it is macerated with intriguing ingredients.

There are three SAQs a short walk from my house (no, that is NOT why I moved here :wink: ) the new one at the Jean-Talon Market is quite large and pleasant, and of course there is the SAQ Sélection Beaubien. The small Petite-Italie branch is still open (lease) and they are using it as a semi “SAQ Express” with longer opening hours, though it is not branded as an Express. I might also shop at the two near Parc and Laurier - the Laurier W. one and the smaller Parc/Fairmount one, because I have several friends around there and even in the winter when I don’t ride my bike, I walk to PA almost every week because of the low prices and interesting grocery items.

I used to go to Ottawa for work more often than now - perhaps that will start up again - and while the LCBO at Rideau Centre is tiny, it is a short walk to the huge one at the corner of Rideau and King Edward.

By the way, there are very few comments on most boards about the National Capital Region, whether Ottawa or Gatineau on the Québec side. Ottawa is quite a size city now, but there is little on any site’s Ontario board outside the GTA.

Lillet is a pretty pleasant summer drink. It has hints of candied orange and is a bit more on the sugary side for a white fortified wine. I rarely drink it straight since I usually keep it to make lillet cobblers (I’m not a porto or sherry guy) but if I had to drink a fortified wine Lillet might be it. It is 85% semillion blanc from bordeau and 15% blend of macerated liqueurs produced on site (a mix of orange liqueurs and quinine liqueurs). Its then aged a bit.

The only reason why I don’t know if you are going to like it is that it is a bit sugary and I remember you not being so crazy about sugar in wines. It has 87g/L so its technically between an auslese and icewine.

My local SAQ closed a while ago (near charlevoix metro) I have to either go to marché atwater or to verdun (marché atwater, of course, is a SAQ selection so it has a MUCH better range of products). I also go often at the Atwater metro so sometimes frequent the SAQ selection at the FORUM. I’ll go to the SAQ selection near McGill metro (les ailes) if I want to find a particularly rare spirit (that’s where I’ll start looking for obscure stuff like Punt E Mes if it ever gets in Quebec.)

Yes, if I were to drink a bit of Lillet I’d definitely cut it with fizzy water as I tend to avoid concentrated sugar in general (soft teeth). Yes, of course I know alcohol metabolizes as sugar; that is one of the reasons not to drink too much. I do like some dry sherries, though I find they can be too harsh.

The closing of the Pointe St-Charles SAQ was infuriating. It had been there for many years, and was closed just as food businesses were starting to take off in that neighbourhood and there were more residents who’d want something beyond supermarket beer or wine. It was not running at a loss either. Very poor longterm business decision, and put the lie to their claims of sustainability, which would certainly include consumers in urban areas being able to walk to an outlet.

The outlet you are talking about (very high-end) is actually an SAQ Signature. The closest Sélection to it is the one on boulevard de Maisonneuve a bit farther east.

Last time I drank Lillet I had fino sherry (unaged sherry) and I can confirm Lillet is a lot less harsh than sherry (I think regular sherry might even be harsher since it tends to be even more oaky).

Lillet with a bit of perrier sounds like a great match! I might even try a lillet spitz one day with 3 parts crémant de bourgogne (you’re insane if you think I’m mixing champagne in a cocktail), 2 parts lillet and 1 part Perrier! Maybe add a dash or two of orange bitter to the whole stuff?

Yep, its a shame they closed the SAQ. Real disrespectful if you ask me. Centre street is getting a bit better than it was but there are still ways to go. With Saint-Henri, La Petite Bourgogne and Verdun becoming popular there is a definite wave of gentrification in PSC. If Griffintown takes off we’ll be like the village of Asterix in the middle of Hipster central.

Sorry, I often (often!) mistake signature and sélection!

Don’t be sorry. Someone on another forum was after me for being too literal about “westernization”. I spend all day picking at words in several languages, so it is an effort to be sloppy and normal!

The Point has a lot of social housing, so it will never be 100% gentrified. Personally, I think that is a good thing - a friend lives in an HLM for seniors there and is actually able to enjoy her retirement after a life working in non-profits. But close to a métro station and with solid, historic housing, it will obviously change quite a bit in coming years.

I was also a bit surprised about how sweet the Lillet was, especially since everyone seems to be bandying the name about as if it is THE only vermouth option of the season. It made a perfectly fine martini, but when I had it on ice I found it obnoxiously cloying. It kind of reminded me of all the characteristics that made me avoid white wine for the majority of my adult life (until I summoned up the courage to give it another try and discovered that there are some nice dry ones out there). I am hoping it will use itself up quickly so I can try a bottle of Dolin. In fact, that is my main complaint about vermouths, because they have a limited shelf life it is difficult to try them out since you aren’t going to have several open bottles lying around diminishing in quality. It is difficult to remember a drink you had while ago vs the drink currently in your hand. Perhaps when I get close to the bottom I will buy the Dolin so that I can do direct taste tests…

My most recent rum purchase was the Flor de Caña 7 year, $34.50 for 750 ml
It mixed nicely in drinks that were predominantly rum and not much else. I was originally meant to find a blackstrap rum for corn and oils, but none are available at the SAQ. There were lots of dark spiced rums but I was worried that they might conflict with the spices in my falernum, so I gave them the miss. I was very pleased with this bottle, and disappointed that it wasn’t there when I went back. I got the Ron Barcelo instead ($29.90) and will report back.

I also bought a bottle of Bulleit bourbon ($36.25) to infuse with figs to make “figgy boulevardiers”. It replaces one that my partner’s cousin gave us (4 roses) that I had heard good things about but was rather disappointed in. Although for something I found so disappointing,the bottle was gone in a flash. Half became fig infused bourbon (and was a smashing success), some became coffee-chocolate-pecan bitters and the rest is infusing itself with nutmeg on the counter as we speak.

Damn. I would never ever recommend lillet as an alternative to vermouth. The aromatics element are not the same at all. There is a good reason vespers and martinis are two very different cocktails. :smile:

Thanks for the feedback for Flor de Cana. Like I said, I’m a bit weary on rum. For blackstrap, I’m pretty fortunate to have snagged a bottle of Cruzan. I’m still bewildered they don’t carry Gosling’s. I mean… isn’t it the standard for blackstrap? Right now the only option we have is a spiced blackstrap rum (Kraken)? Sure, lets carry 50 variations of overpriced aged golden rhum but lets completely ignore a specific category of rum.

I wasn’t impressed by Bulleit. I don’t remember seeing 4 roses here, which is a shame.

BTW, I did a Coronado Luau Special with blackstrap and preferred it to the original. You might want to try that if you are lucky enough to get your hands on a bottle.

Coronado Luau Special
Wow! Makes about a pint
3 ounces orange juice
2 ounces fresh lemon juice
1 ounce simple sugar (2 parts sugar for 1 part water... I used all orgeat syrup)
1 ounce dark jamaican...

Here’s a lillet cocktail you might find pleasant?

Cheeky Negroni
1 ounce gin
1 ounce Lillet
1 oucne Aperol
Mix in a whiskey glass filled with ice

I once had a large quantity of falernum and looked for recipes to try. Here’s what I found that looked interesting:

The crafty and elusive elk
1 oz Blanco tequila, Lunazul Blanco
1⁄2 oz Mezcal, Sombra
1⁄2 oz Falernum, Velvet Falernum
1⁄2 oz Maraschino Liqueur, Luxardo
3⁄4 oz Lime juice
2 ds Orange...

Corn n Oil
2 oz Virgin Islands Rum, Cruzan Blackstrap
1⁄4 oz Falernum
1⁄4 oz Lime juice
2 ds Bitters, Angostura (optional)
Instructions: Build on ice and stir.
(From Kindredcocktails)

Golden Gate Swizzle
1 1/2oz Fernet Branca
1oz Lemon
1/4oz John D. Taylor

Ninth Ward Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces Bulleit Bourbon 
1/2 ounce St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur 
3/4 ounce Fee Brothers Falernum syrup 
3/4 ounce lime juice 
2 dashes Peychaud

Tradewind variant with Falernum
1 1/2 ounces 10 Cane Rum
1 tablespoon Pimm’s
1 teaspoon Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1 tablespoon Fee Brothers Falernum
1 teaspoon vanilla-infused simple syrup

My favorite was the tradewind variant. I didn’t like the corn and oil much.

Karela, there are many good dry whites. Of course you know that perception of “dryness” relates as much to acidity as to residual sugar. Nowadays the SAQ site lists the residual sugar level of each wine, and they are starting to do it in-store, as the LCBO has done for quite a while.

One of my close friends can’t drink red wine (migraine - she can’t eat blue cheeses either) so I had to learn more about whites.

Just bought a Canadian Club 100% rye. I was looking for Alberta Premium rye but this was the only rye I found.

Love it. Its a steal at 26$

Was just on line at the SAQ checking out prices for Chartreuse Jaune. And they don’t have any! I realize it might not be the hottest selling item in the store, but to simply not carry it at all? It is a rather well known liqueur, after all.

I read that the taste is similar to Strega, but further searches of the SAQ website show that they only carry Strega CREAM.

Will have to a) write another strongly worded letter to the SAQ letting them know their selection leaves a bit to be desired and b) put it on my shopping list for the next time I am out of province.

Planeta Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2014


I’ve been very busy these last few days and I’m rewarding myself with a nice red. As you might know already, I prefer white wines but I love the wines made by Planeta and they had a new one I haven’t tried yet and it piqued my interest. For those who don’t know, Planeta is a wine producer from Sicilly. Cerasulolo di Vittoria is the only DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) in Sicily and is made from 60% Nero d’avola and 40 Frapatto. It is 23.95$ at the SAQ. See:

You can also access the producer’s webpage here:

This wine is strange. The attack is very present, a lot of fruit, berries, citrus, a certain tartness, acidity and youth. Its very front loaded and dies in the middle of the mouth, which is pretty empty. The finish comes back as sandalwood, with a lot of tannin that grips the mouth and, unfortunately, leaves a bit of cardboard as an afterthought.

I appreciate the wine’s story but I would not buy it again. It is too front loaded, lacks balance and the finish is mostly a negative experience (I enjoyed the sandalwood but its the only thing I liked). The cardboard and green finish is not appreciated.