Sons of Vancouver

Review: Sons of Vancouver "Cigarettes on a Leather Jacket" Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Sons of Vancouver Whisky 1.jpg
ABV
56.7%
Aging
3-5 yrs; ex-peated malt casks
Recipe
90% BC rye, 5% BC wheat, 5% BC malted barley
Distiller Sons of Vancouver (Vancouver, BC)

This whisky was made from a 5 year old rye whisky and three year old wheat and malt whiskies, all matured in an ex-Westland peated malt barrel. The distillery uses a rum yeast to ferment the rye, since the characteristics of the yeast play well off the grassiness in the rye .

The grains are all from northern BC. There are more whisky releases on the way - probably one release this year and five the next - some of them will be pretty unique (in a good way - some exciting ideas there).


Review (2021)

  • Batch: Release #1

  • Bottling Date: 2021

  • Bottling Code: N/A

The nose is quite spicy, in a similar way, in fact, to some of the classic spicy/dusty Canadian whiskies which are quite rye-influenced. It surprised me at first – it’s a note/profile that I don’t find often (if ever) with small producers. But, beyond that – what can I say- “cigarettes on a leather jacket” is appropriate! It’s lightly smoky and ashy, with leather, dried apricot, apple juice a light nuttiness, clove, orange peel, coconut, and dry earth.

The whisky comes to life on the palate – starting with smoke (odd, since whiskies often end in smoke), mixed dried fruit, before jumping into some distinct “Westland” notes with that vibrant fruitiness and jasmine that is in their malt. The finish closes with a good dose of “dustiness”, baking spice, clove, and orange peel.

I quite like the spiciness, and the cask influence is terrific. One of the better Vancouver whiskies I’ve had.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). At the upper end of this category. Quite good.

Value: N/A. It is sold out and used variable pricing as part of a crowdfunded campaign


Review: Sons of Vancouver Blue Curacao by Jason Hambrey

Sons of Vancouver Blue Curacao 2.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
Wheat base and botanicals
Distiller Sons of Vancouver (Vancouver, BC)

Sons of Vancouver makes their blue curacao by first macerating bitter orange peel, cinnamon, and mace in a wheat spirit that it is made in house. Then, the maceration is vacuum distilled at room temperature - vacuum distillation avoids any boiling and preserves the delicate and bright flavour notes. Then, the distillate is blended with brandy, sugar orange oil, and blue colouring.

James Lester, one of the founders, describes it as the best product that they make at the distillery- quite a statement after their impressive amarettos and whiskies.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2021

  • Bottling Code: N/A

The nose, unsurprisingly is all about orange, but it’s a very bright and floral orange rather than some of the heavier or fake orange notes you often get in orange liquers. This is a completely different category than those. There is a heavy backing of spice – it reminds you of those spicy citrus teas. The mace comes out and it is brilliant. It is lightly sweet and bitter, and the spice presents a pleasant backing to the spirit.

Perhaps the best way to appreciate this spirit is by way of comparison. Compared to Cointreau – perhaps the most popular orange liquer for high-class cocktails – it’s a bit like comparing marmalade to a fresh orange. Cointreau is heavy, slightly cloying, and full of heavy orange. This is bright, floral, spicy, and slightly bitter. It has just as much orange, but has much more finesse and intrigue.

How about compared to Grand Marnier? Grand Marnier is in a bit of a different category since it has a heavy presence of aged spirit and cognac notes, but, again, it’s a much heavier and sweeter spirit. It has a very different, building finish from the cognac – but the sons of Vancouver curacao remains very bright, with a direct spicy influence and more complexity with the spices.

Excellent stuff. Mixes incredibly, too.

Highly Recommended.


Review: Sons of Vancouver No. 82 Barrel-Aged Amaretto by Jason Hambrey

Sons of Vancouver Barrel Aged Amaretto 1.jpg
ABV
26%
Aging
Refill ex-sherry and ex-bourbon
Recipe
Wheat spirit, brandy, vanilla, apricot kernels, honey and demerera sugar
Distiller Sons of Vancouver (Vancouver, BC)

This is released once a year, around Christmas - it is the Amaretto from Sons of Vancouver that is aged in a mixture of Ex-2Bar Bourbon barrels and Ex-Westland casks, finished in a used oloroso sherry cask.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2021

  • Bottling Code: N/A

This is similar to the regular Sons of Vancouver amaretto with the stone fruit, jam, vanilla, and light floral notes – but it is altogether different with the cask character. There is a rich, intense sherry note that surrounds the almond notes with all sorts of savoury and nutty characters. The body is richer with more of a custard-type character. The tannins from the oak add a lot of great structure. The end, once again, is almond and cherry but tannins amp up the structure and there are waves of creamy toffee, baking spice, and brown sugar.

Very Highly Recommended. This one really shows the potential depth that liquers can have.


Review: Sons of Vancouver No. 82 Amaretto by Jason Hambrey

Sons of Vancouver Amaretto 2.jpg
ABV
26%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
Wheat spirit, brandy, vanilla, apricot kernels, honey and demerera sugar
Distiller Sons of Vancouver (Vancouver, BC)

Every micro-distillery has a challenge managing cash flow while waiting for the aged spirits (like whisky) to come of age. While many distilleries put a concerted effort on gin or other white spirits, Sons of Vancouver went a different route. Why try to be THE gin or vodka distillery when there are so many different options of products to make? In their words: “we aren’t just another ‘gin distillery’ and we hope people will remember us for that.”

This amaretto is a bit different from the typical commercial ones that you see. The distillery make their own extracts from apricot kernels and vanilla beans. The distillery uses a lower ABV when making the extracts so that the flavours are more stone fruit-forward rather than marzipan-forward. The extracts are then blended with demerera sugar and blackberry honey and added to whole apricots to infuse for two weeks. Finally, a light touch of orange oil is added to finish things off.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2021

  • Bottling Code: N/A

This stuff is a world apart from your typical intense almond/cherry notes you often find in amaretto. Stone fruit, vanilla, and light floral notes are all here. It’s full of rich stone fruit notes – in the fresh sense but also with a jammy character. The palate has a rich sweetness to it (while being less sweet than your typical amaretto) and a fresh vanilla character with lots of fruity depth and light touches of spice. Toward the end of the finish, there is a nice flourish of almond and cherry.

Excellent stuff. One of the best Canadian-made liquers I’ve had. Amaretto sours are also great with this.

Highly Recommended.


Review: Westland Amaretto Cask American Single Malt Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

ABV
50%
Aging
Amaretto Cask
Recipe
100% Malted Barley (5 malts)
Distiller Westland (Seattle, Washington)

I got a sample of this while I was at the distillery and was astounded. I tasted lots at the distillery, but this was my favourite, and I would never have thought it would work so well. The Amaretto comes from the Sons of Vancouver distillery.

Bottled non-chill filtered and without caramel colouring.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Cask N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: N/A

What a nose! Lightly smoky, with dried cherries, charred oak, pencil shavings, chili, and a slight almost rubbery note. I really like this stuff – it’s a fascinating nose – unique and not at all what I was expecing, which was a whisky that was loaded with almond. I discovered after the fact that this is in part due to the fact that Sons of Vancouver’s amaretto isn’t loaded with almond – it’s made with apricots, bourbon vanilla beans, orange peel, and demerrera and blackberry honey. The palate follows from the nose, with a light dry-ness to it and some very nice smoke integrated in, along with a growing earthiness. This is fantastic! The finish has cherries, apricot, oak, spice, and candied orange. The smoke/earthiness that is integrated in so well to the fruit (quite rare) is so intriguing and works so beautifully – this is one of my favourite whiskies tasted this year. The smoke battling the apricot on the eventual end of the whisky is amazing.

The finish is nice, but not long enough – and it is, perhaps, a touch too sweet – but I expect this could easily be eased with a bit of blending.

I would buy a few of these, and there aren’t many whiskies in the world which I’ll commit to like that.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: N/A