Chic Choc Spiced Rum
Review: Chic Choc Spiced Rum (82.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
February 24, 2017
Chic Choc Spiced Rum was developed by Quebec based, Domaine Pinnacle to be the first-ever spiced rum produced with indigenous spices from the Chic-Choc Mountain region in northern Quebec. The spirit is made from blend of rums aged for 3 to 8 years and infused a unique mix of Quebec Nordic spices. These six indigenous plants grow naturally in Quebec’s Chic-Choc mountains on the Gaspé peninsula and include Peppery Green Alder, Pine Forest Spikenard, Witherod Berries, Lovage Root, Wild Angelica and Sweet Gale (aka Bog Myrtle). There may be other spices in the mix which compliment the nordic spices, however theme of the rum is natural flavours in a rum blended and spiced to be lightly sweet and lightly spicy.
Recently, Corby Spirit and Wine Limited acquired the spirit based assets of Domaine Pinnacle which included both the Ungava Gin brand (reviewed here) and Chic Choc Spiced Rum. Corby created the new subsidiary company, Ungava Spirits Co. Ltd., as a means to purchase the Domaine Pinnacle spirits assets. The new company (Ungava Spirits) continues operate from their location in Cowansville, Quebec.
Chic Choc Spiced Rum is bottled at 42.1 % alcohol by volume.
In the Bottle 4/5
Chic-Choc Spiced Rum arrives in the tall long-necked bottle shown to the left. The label had me puzzled with the picture of the mountain climber on the back of a Grizzly bear, so I did a little research and found the company that designed the graphic (Polygraphe).
In describing the label concept on their website, the company makes the following statement:
Chic Choc is a new spiced rum from Quebec crafted by the Domaine Pinnacle. The identity is based on an adventurer legend, his great love, a fierce beast, spices and rum. We thought of a story, wrote it and dressed-up the bottle. This elixir is homage to adventurous souls across the globe who enjoy exploring off the beaten path.
I am disappointed that the graphic and story seem to have no real connection with the Chic-Choc Mountains where the indigenous spices used to produce the rum are grown. Having said that, the Grizzly Bear logo will draw the eye of the consumer bringing attention to the brand. I do wish the bottle were sealed with a better cap however. Those flimsy metallic screwcaps seem to easily lose their seal after being opened and closed only a few times.
In the Glass 8/10
The rum has a bright coppery-bronze colour in the glass and when I tilted my glass and gave it a light twirl I saw a well-defined crest at the top of the film, which only reluctantly gave up medium-sized legs. Both the colour and the reluctant legs indicate to me the presence of some sweetened caramel which is typical of the spiced rum category.
The nose is quite interesting, as I notice some typical notes of brown sugar and molasses with hints of vanilla and cinnamon, but alongside those typical scents are a few different sensory impressions of green willow and alder bush, sharp tree sap akin to the inside of poplar bark, and light notes of black licorice. I let the glass breathe and begin to notice orange peel and peppery clove-like wisps in the air. Fine oak spice and alpine scents of spruce boughs and pine needles seem to be hinted at as well. The rum promises to be quite different from the typical vanilla spiced spirit.
In the Mouth 50/60
There is a peppery spiciness which runs though the spirit which fortunately is tempered by a light sweetness of caramel toffee and dark brown sugar. I taste vanilla and baking spices (cloves, cinnamon,and nutmeg) but I also taste a firm piny element which is reminiscent of those spruce boughs and pine needles I recognized in the breezes above the glass. Capping off my flavour impressions is an intense flavour dark licorice and menthol (think sen sen candy drops) which gives the rum a sort of breath mint feel.
I poured a little of the rum over some ice in a rocks glass and found that the cold ice was a great compliment for the spiced rum as it held the peppery spices in check making sipping easier. Then I added cola and found the spiced rum and cola mixed drink affable, although perhaps a touch too sweet. Doing the same with ginger-ale yielded a nice Mule-style tall drink which appealed more strongly to me. I settled upon a sour cocktail (see below) which not only was somewhat adventuresome (in keeping with the theme of the rum) but was also quite delicious.
In the Throat 12/15
Although I would describe the spiced rum as light-bodied the added sweetness and the peppery spices give the spirit a longer finish than a typical light-bodied spirit would have. It is in the exit that the dark licorice and menthol-like impression of sen sen candies is felt the strongest.
The Afterburn 8.5/10
Typical Spiced rums like Captain Morgan’s feature vanilla enhanced flavour walkways which are predictable and easy to navigate. The trail blazed Chic Choc Spiced Rum ia a much more daring path. While some of the flavourway is certainly paved with vanilla and caramel, the indigenous Nordic spices of the Chic-choc Mountains of Quebec provide some interesting twists and turns during the spiced rum journey. I suspect this rum will not be for everyone; but I also suspect that their will be many who will enjoy the walk on the wilder side of spiced rum.
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.
Here is an adventuresome (and delicious) cocktail which captures the spirit of Chic Choc Spiced Rum.
The Mountain Climber
1 1/2 oz Chic Choc Spiced Rum
1/2 oz Bols Triple Sec
3/8 oz Lemon Juice
3/8 oz Lime Juice
dash Sugar Syrup (to taste)
Add the first five ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a thin coil of orange peel and a small lump of ice
Please Enjoy Responsibly!
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!
You may (loosely) interpret the scores 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 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)