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Summer Love Raspberry Vodka

Review: Summer Love Raspberry Vodka    (84/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on March 11, 2018

This past fall at the Rocky Mountain Food and Wine Show I met, Mike Stanfield, Founder of Starr Distilling Co. based in Calgary Alberta. He was presenting his new Summer Love Vodka flavours, Raspberry and Peach. We struck up a conversation about the burgeoning Micro distilling industry in Alberta, and I wanted to know his story.

Mike told me that his venture started as a hobby making Limoncello and Coffee Liqueurs in his basement to share with friends. His repertoire expanded to making fruit infusions and letting them sit for months to absorb flavor and color. Mike said that he never intended to make spirits commercially, he just enjoyed serving his creations at dinner parties sending his friends home a little happier than when they arrived.

It turned out that his friends (and their friends) really liked his creations, especially the taste of flavoured spirits made with real natural ingredients.  So … encouraged by the positive feedback, Mike and his wife decided to give it a shot. They each came from families with strong manufacturing backgrounds and they liked the idea of doing their own thing. So Mike went distilling school, came home, bought a Christian Carl still, and began looking at leasing property in downtown Calgary for his small distillery. That’s when Mike realized that the economics of his business plan wouldn’t fly.

However, the urge to produce his own products commercially was strong, so Mike took another route and set out to find a third-party distillery who would produce his recipes to his specifications. He eventually found SRL Global Distillers and a business relationship was forged. They currently produce his Summer Love Raspberry and Spiced Pear Vodkas which he is marketing in Alberta. The base vodka for these spirits is distilled 5 times and filtered to be a neutral spirit. Real fruit from British Colombia is used to create his flavours.

Summer Love Raspberry Vodka is produced using more than a pound of real raspberries in every bottle! It features the both the tart and the sweet flavour of fresh-picked British Columbia raspberries. The spirit is bottled at 30% alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 4.5/5

The labels for Summer Love Vodka are made by Dean Stanton, a well-known Calgary artist who just happens to Mike’s next door neighbor. The label he created is a celebration of the Summer Love Brand and meant to be an extension of Mike’s passion for the outdoors, for camping, for gatherings with friends at the lake, and of course a celebration of the bounty that the fields and orchards produce. It is designed to be colorful, light-hearted, playful and fun.

I like both the bottle and the label which have brought a little sunshine into this cold Alberta winter (maybe that’s why I feel a thaw coming).

In the Glass 8.5/10

When poured into my glencairn the Summer Love Raspberry Vodka immediately throws up the rich scent of fresh raspberry juice. The aroma is quite nice especially as there does not appear to a large amount of sweetness alongside. The temptation here is to get out a bowl of vanilla ice cream and drizzle some of the tart raspberry vodka on top. (I resist temptation for now.)

As I continue to inspect the breezes above my glass, I take notice that there appears to be no alcohol astringency in the air. This speaks to the quality of the base vodka. Sometimes, spirits are flavoured to cover over a weak underlying spirit. In the case of Sumner Love, it appears that Mike and the SRL Global Distillery instead, began the process with a good vodka.

In the Mouth 50/60

Mike promised me the tart and the sweet flavour of fresh-picked British Columbia raspberries. I am happy to say that the flavour I encountered when I took my first sip was exactly as described. If any sugar has been added to sweeten the flavour, that sweetness has been added judiciously which makes this about as good a representation of real raspberry fruit as I have tasted in a flavoured spirit.

This makes me want to mix cocktails, and I begin immediately grabbing a few limes and some cranberry juice to mix up a nice Cosmopolitan-style cocktail. Raspberry works great with a large variety of citrus fruits and with other berries so the mixing potential of the Raspberry Vodka is almost endless. Since it does not carry a large amount of sweetness, the home bartender has wide latitude to mix his bar drinks to suit almost any palate. One thing to note though, raspberries carry a very strong flavour and Starr Distilling brings the full force of that flavour into their Raspberry Vodka. This means that a little goes a long way (see below).

In the Throat 12.5/15

When sipped on it own the raspberry finish is quite tart. I do not notice any astringency or heat from the underlying vodka. That this flavoured vodka is bottled at 30 % could be accounting for some of this relative smoothness; but my thoughts are that the base vodka chosen must be a good clean spirit.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

Fresh Raspberries from British Columbia and a good clean base vodka is a nice combination for a flavoured spirit. Starr Distilling has hit the mark with their Raspberry Flavoured Vodka. Not only is the spirit full of outstanding fresh raspberry flavour, it is easy to pair this flavoured vodka with a variety of other spirits and other fruits and berries making it not only tasty but versatile as well. Frankly the spirit is a winner!


Suggested Recipe:

Cran-Raspberry Cosmopolitan

1 oz Premium Vodka
1/2 oz Summer Love Raspberry Vodka
1/2 oz Bols Triple Sec
1/2 oz Cranberry juice
1/2 oz Lime juice
1/4 oz Simple Syrup (1:1 Ratio)

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

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!



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)

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