Review: Acerum Brun (Maple Spirit; Distillerie Shefford) / by Jason Hambrey

Shefford Acerum 2.jpg
Oak Barrels
Distilled from Maple Sap Concentrate
Distiller Distillerie Shefford (Shefford, Quebec)

Acerum (latin for maple trees) is a product which is very geographically distinct - in fact, Quebec is perhaps the only place in the world currently making spirits from maple sap. Quebec is the powerhouse of maple syrup production - in fact, this province alone accounts for around 70 percent of the world’s production of maple syrup. So, it makes sense that it be distilled as a representation of the place. The spirit has a legal definition - it needs to be made solely from Quebec maple sap, fermented, distilled, and bottled at a Quebec distillery, and be at least 35% ABV. I’ve been waiting to try one for a while.

Of course, when one thinks of maple syrup, it’s hard to separate away the sweetness, which is removed in fermentation. So, spirits like this are fascinating. There are only a few distilleries producing Acerum (so far), including Distillerie Shefford, Distillerie du St. Laurent, and Domaine Acer. Distillerie Shefford was the first to make acerum, as far as I understnad.

Review (2020)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2019

Maybe I should have gotten the white stuff to get a better sense of the spirit, but I prefer brown spirits, so..

The nose has a little oak, pear, clove, brown sugar, vanilla, and some leafy notes (like houseplants). The palate has caramel chocolate, oak, a light sweetness, and dark dried fruits leading to a finish which starts with cinnamon, clove, and fades very cleanly to vanilla syrup – at first. With additional sips layers are added to the finish – cinnamon, oak, flaked coconut, even oats.

 At first pass, I didn’t think there was maple – but, indeed, it shines on the finish. It isn’t sweet (other than a light sweetness from the oak), but this is similar to the finish of maple syrup itself once the sweetness has faded away. The mingling of maple and oak on the finish is quite nice.

But – the minerals! This is perhaps the unique point on this one. The finish is full of mineral notes (think mineral water), and this is very unique. This is my favourite part.

Not overly complex at this stage. It definitely has the characteristics of a young spirit with a bit of roughness – in fact, if I tasted this blind, I would probably assume this is young whisky without a lot of grain character. One of the most enjoyable spirits I’ve tasted recently (but not necessarily one of the “best”) – this, to me, reveals the faults of just going after high ratings.

Assessment: Highly Recommended, on the basis of uniqueness, which can be harder to find these days. Taste-wise, as they say: “neither here nor there”.

Value: To what do I compare this to? This type of spirit (unlike many “rare” spirits) is quite uncommon, indeed “rare”. $50/500 ml.