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Shadow in the Lake Vodka

Review: Shadow in the Lake Vodka    (80.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Published August 03, 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 for 14 short months, they have been very busy producing a Vodka, two Gins, a specialty Coffee Liqueur, and an Orange Liqueur (with a twist). A special effort is made to use as many locally produced ingredients as possible.

The Distillery’s flagship Vodka  Shadow In the Lake Vodka which pays homage to the legendary beast Ogopogo. The spirit is produced from 100 % wheat grain grown in the South Peace area of British Columbia which is ground on site at the distillery. It is produced one batch at a time using the distillery’s 3000 litre mash tun and 600 litre hybrid pot still which has one 4 plate column and one 16 plate column attached.

Shadow in the Lake Vodka is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume, and sold in the stunning bottle design shown below:
Shadow In The Lake Vodka

The First Impression  9.5/10

As indicated above, the Distillery’s flagship Vodka  Shadow In the Lake Vodka which pays homage to the legendary beast Ogopogo. The frosted bottle shows a stylized image of the mythical lake monster which wraps itself around the entire bottle. This bottle design was created by Dawn and Doug Lemmie in conjunction with the Vancouver-based branding company, Also Known As Design Studio. The aim was to create a stunning bottle which featured a direct links to the local economy and to the local legends that surround the distillery. In my opinion the design succeeds wildly

The First Sip  16/20

When I was tasting the Shadow in the Lake Vodka for the first time, it was in a tasting flight with two other vodka spirits I had chosen for my friends (the Rum Chums) and I to sample together as part of a Vodka Tasting. All of the spirits were produced by small Canadian Micro Distillers and each of them was chilled in my freezer for several hours and then served cold (at about 2 degrees Celsius) in small shot glasses.

The Shadow in the Lake Vodka was slightly thickened at that cold temperature, and when I brought my shot glass to my nose I noticed the spirit a light vegetal aroma creeping out of the glass. There was also a very light grainy spiciness and a pleasant mint-like scent rising into the breezes.

The first sip brought froward a flavour which reminded me of mushy bananas. I could also taste a light alcohol spiciness and a mild grassy mint-like flavour. As the spirit warmed, the vegetal tone of the spirit become more apparent and a light metallic bitterness crept into the flavour profile.

Taking a Shot  16/20

When each of us at the tasting took a full swallow, there was a general consensus that the spirit was smoother than we expected. When served cold, there was no noticeable burn and even when the spirit had warmed and we took a second shot, only a minor burn was apparent which was more like a mild warmth and spiciness.

After swallowing however, there was a mild metallic bitterness in the aftertaste which detracted from our enjoyment. As the spirit warms this metallic bitterness is intensified. The light vegetal flavour which was noticed when we sipped also became much more noticeable. Around the table, there was a general consensus that the spirit was suitable for shots when served cold.

Out for Dinner  14/20

I served a  lightly salty home-made pepper pot soup, some smoked sausage, small pieces of sour dough bread, pickles and lightly salted crackers with Edam and Cheddar cheese slices. It was a decent selection of food to sample while tasting vodka. A good vodka will usually bring the spicy and salty flavours of the food more into focus helping you to enjoy them.  A great vodka will cleanse the palate between bites allowing you to enjoy all of the foods more thoroughly.

Unfortunately, the mild vegetal quality within the flavour of this vodka seemed to have a mixed effect upon our palates as we sampled the selection of foods. For myself, the spirit did not cause any of the foods to be enjoyed less; however, I cannot say that the food was enhanced either. A few of my guests felt that the vegetal quality of the Vodka detracted from their enjoyment particularly with the bread and cheese snacks. Unfortunately, it would be difficult to recommend a food pairing for the Shadow in the Lake Vodka.

Cocktail Hour (25/30)

I made several cocktails with the Shadow in the Lake Vodka both at the tasting and afterwards in the days following. The Cosmopolitan I made at the tasting was very good. It was pleasingly tart and refreshing; everyone seemed quite satisfied with there serving. This gave me the confidence to make a Vodka Martini afterwards. The vegetal quality of the vodka played well with vermouth, and the result was that wet martinis were much preferred over dry. Overall I felt the Shadow in the Lake Vodka was a very satisfactory cocktail spirit and I would not hesitate to serve it again.


Final Score 80.5/100

Acceptable when served neat or as a shooting spirit, however, it is much more suitable for cocktails!

If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Vodka Reviews.


Suggested Cocktail

Cosmo SAM_2700Cosmopolitan

2 oz Shadow in the Lake Vodka
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz Cranberry juice
3/4 oz Lime juice
1/4 oz Lemon juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Orange Peel

Add the first six Ingredients into a cocktail Shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain the cocktail into a chilled glass
Garnish with Orange Peel

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!


The Final Score is out of 100 and 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 Vodka. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again for cocktails only.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this Vodka in shots, although cocktails are still preferable.
85-89 Excellent! Shots or cocktails!
90-94 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 – 80 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
81 – 89 Silver Medal (Recommended for shots and mixing cocktails)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly Recommended for Vodka Shots and Sublime Cocktails)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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