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Manitou Orange and Sumac Liqueur

Review: Manitou Orange and Sumac Liqueur   87.5/100
Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on January 05, 2016

Legend Distilling is a small craft distillery in the heart of B.C. Okanagan Wine Country. Owner’s Dawn and Doug Lennie moved to Naramata 11 years ago and witnessed the progression of the wine business happening all around them. They were already running their own businesses, but had a dream of working together to build a new company they could share. Whiskey was always been a passion of Doug’s and he had also been watching what was going on with craft distilling in the US. Both Dawn and he decided that spirits would be a great business to bring to the community as a compliment to all the great wines available around them. For Dawn and Doug, offering something new in the area was key. This included their unique location along the Naramata Bench, as other distilleries were being located in more industrial areas.

Although the distillery has only been open about a year and a half , they have been very busy producing a Vodka, two Gins, a specialty Coffee Liqueur, and an Orange Liqueur. A special effort is made to use as many locally produced ingredients as possible.

The orange liqueur produced by Legend Distilling arrives with a bit of a twist in its flavour profile. As well as being orange flavoured the spirit also carries the flavour of the locally foraged wild Sumac berries. The orange liqueur is bottled at 30 % alcohol by volume and sold in the squat 375 ml bottle shown below:

manituo-sam_2927In The Bottle 4.5/5

At Legend Distilling, a special effort is made to use as many locally produced ingredients as possible, and in conjunction with the Vancouver-based branding company, Also Known As Design Studio, Dawn and Doug have creating unique branded spirits with bottle designs that feature direct links to the local economy and to the local legends that surround the distillery.

The squat 375 ml bottle is sealed with a synthetic cork and links the Manituo to local legend via the back label. According to that back label, legend has it that the Village of Naramata was christened during a séance when the spirit of a great Sioux Indian Chief (after entering the body of the local Postmaster’s wife) spoke of his own wife Nar – ra – mat – ta which of course led to the naming of the village.

Manitou Orange and Sumac Liqueur is linked to the legend of the Great Sioux Chief through the spirit of Manitou. (Manitou is the spiritual force as understood by the Algonquian tribes of Aboriginal Americans.)

In the Glass 8.5/10

Manitou Orange and Sumac Liqueur has a light rusty orange colour in the glass and when that glass is tilted and twirled, thickened leglets form indicating a light degree of sweetness (which is not unexpected) accompanies the orange and sumac flavour. The aroma from the glass is scented by oranges and tangerines with perhaps a light undercurrent of lemon citrus. Perhaps it is that tangerine and lemon quality which represents the sumac berry.

I quite like the aroma which seems to be inviting me to steal a quick sip.

In the Mouth 52.5/60

The sip I steal reinforces the appeal of the spirit. While the orange/tangerine quality is firm and appealing, there is also a lightly bitter/acidic undercurrent which balances the sweetness beautifully allowing me to sip the liqueur without ice to great enjoyment. There is also a light earthy quality reminiscent of angelica root which seems to elevate the spirit.

I was curious as to how the flavour would translate in some of my favourite cocktails, and so I mixed one of my favourite gin cocktails, Lady of the Empire, with the Manitou Liqueur and Legend Distilling’s, Doctor’s Orders Gin (see review here). The result was nice, and I was emboldened to try the liqueur not only in gin based cocktails, but also in a Tequila based Picador as well (see recipe below). Then when my wife asked me for a suitable orange liqueur to use as the base for an Orange Basting Sauce (for our roast duck this Christmas), I suggested she use the Manitou Orange and Sumac Liqueur. The entire family was very pleased with the flavour of the sauce. The twist of Sumac Berry compliments the orange liqueur beautifully.

In the Throat 13/15

As indicated above, the light bitterness which accompanies the sweet orange flavour balances the Orange liqueur making it a wonderful sipping spirit with no cloying aftertaste. Yumm!

The Afterburn  9/10

Manitou Orange and Sumac Liqueur has become one of my favourite orange liqueurs. Not only does the spirit give my cocktails an interesting (and yummy) twist, it is one of the few orange liqueurs I can sip without ice. This is perhaps the crown jewel of the young Naramata distillery.

If you wish to have some comparison reviews of other Orange Liqueurs you may click here.


Suggested Recipe


2 oz Silver Tequila
1 oz Manitou Orange and Sumac Liqueur
1 oz fresh squeezed Lemon Juice
Lemon Slice (optional)

Add the three ingredients to your metal shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Double strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with a slice of lemon (optional)

Enjoy Responsibly!

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!


My Reviews contain a rating or score out of 100, and these scores can be interpreted using the following scale:

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 spirit.  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 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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