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Last Mountain Prairie Cherry Whisky

Review: Last Mountain Prairie Cherry Whisky   (74/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on April 1, 2018

The Last Mountain Distillery is part of a small wave of Micro-Distillers which have began to appear on the Canadian landscape over the last few years. These are small ‘mom and pop’ operations which make their spirits in small batches usually only a barrel or two at a time. This particular distillery is located in Lumsden, Saskatchewan, and it is owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Colin and Meredith Schmidt.

Colin Schmidt took a rather round about road into the distilling business as his original dream was to play pro hockey. He was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in 1992 and signed his first pro contract in 1996. Unfortunately Colin’s pro hockey experience was brief, cut off by a few shoulder injuries after a brief stint with the big club playing what Colin referred to as “left bench”.

Fortunately for us, Colin had aspirations beyond a hockey career, which included starting up his own small distillery. It was a few years later, after Colin left hockey behind, that he and his wife, Meredith began to look for business opportunities in Saskatchewan and the idea of starting up their own micro-distillery still appealed strongly to both of them. To make a long story short, in August of 2010, the ambitions and hard work of Colin and Meredith paid off when they opened Saskatchewan’s first micro-distillery, in Lumsden, Saskatchewan, called the Last Mountain Distillery.

Last Mountain Prairie Cherry Whisky was launched in December 2014. It is produced by barrel aging the Last Mountain Wheat Whisky with organic sour cherries from Over The Hill Orchards in Lumsden Saskatchewan, and then lightly sweetened the spirit using organic sugar cane. The spirit is bottled at 38.1 % abv.

In the Bottle 4/5

Last Mountain bottles Prairie Cherry Whisky in the tall long-necked bottle shown to the left. I like the synthetic cork topper, which adds a bit of ambiance to the presentation. The front label is nice; I particularly like the photo of the real Saskatchewan Prairie Cherries (also called Dwarf sour cherries, or Prunus Cerasus L.) which highlights the expected flavour. The back label gives us some nice information about the spirit and the truthful boast that the Last Mountain Distillery is Saskatchewan’s First Micro-distillery.

In the Glass 7.5/10

The cherry flavoured spirit displays itself with a nice red tone which, when I tasted the spirit in a blind format, I likened to the colour of cherry kool-aid. When I tilted my glass and gave it a slow twirl I saw fat droplets forming which to me indicated that perhaps more than just a light touch of sugar cane was used to sweeten the whisky.

When I took some time to sniff the breezes above the glass, I was perhaps a little surprised. The cherry scents were somewhat obscured by the firm scents and smells of alcohol and whisky. In fact, when I tested the spirit blind, I made the comment that I could decipher that some sort of fruit was used to flavour the spirit, but I thought that the firm grain spice and sweet sugar syrup sufficiently covered over the fruit such that I was having a hard time identifying the underlying flavour.

When accessing the spirit for this review (when I knew what it was) I found I could more readily identify some light cherry scents within the firm whisky spice, but I still felt the cherry could have been featured more prominently.

In The Mouth  44/60

When I took my first sip, I found the spirit did not demonstrate as much sweetness as the nose had indicated. The cherry flavour however, wasn’t what I expected. I was expecting the flavour of a nice ripe BC Cherry, whereas the Saskatchewan Prairie Cherry appears to have a somewhat different flavour. (The Saskatchewan Prairie Cherry were developed at the University of Saskatchewan to be suitably hardy for the cold Saskatchewan prairie winters. Although they are not necessarily sour as the name indicates, they do have a different taste characteristic than the BC Cherry.) I also felt that the underlying whisky seemed to be taking center stage with the flavour of the Saskatchewan Prairie Cherry playing a secondary role. Firm grain and alcohol spices are at the forefront which bring impressions of cloves, citrus peel, nutmeg and grain spice forward. The cherry flavour is light with a very slight fermented taste akin to the taste of fresh cranberry juice. (I suspect that light sourness that reminds me of cranberries is a normal part of the Prairie Cherry flavour profile.)

I added ice to my glass, and this seemed to temper the grain and alcohol spice which allowed me to enjoy the cherry flavour more, having said that, for myself the cherry flavoured whisky will almost certainly be a mixer (see recipe below).

In The Throat 11/15

The finish is rough as alcohol and firm spice are apparent in the finish. I do encounter some light cherry-like flavours as well as some cooling menthol in the finish. Unfortunately the combination reminds me somewhat of cough syrup. The flavoured whisky is better over ice where the cherry flavour seems to find more expression.

The Afterburn  7.5/10

I just have to admit that I don’t really dig this Prairie Cherry Flavoured Whisky from Last Mountain. And I might be alone in my opinion, as all indications are that this spirit is extremely popular every Christmas (see here) and has even won National Awards for its excellence (see here). I think that the strong flavour of the underlying whisky was for myself, a deterrent to my enjoyment of the Prairie Cherry flavour.

As indicated I might be alone in that opinion. It wouldn’t be the first time, and it probably won’t be the last.

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

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Suggested Recipe:

Cherry Whisky Cosmo

1 1/2 oz Last Mountain Prairie Cherry Whisky
1/2 oz Bols Triple Sec
1/2 oz Cranberry juice
1/2 oz Lime juice
1/4 oz Simple Syrup (1:1 Ratio)
Ice

Add the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain the cocktail into a chilled glass

Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more of my cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

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As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

 

 

 

 

 

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