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First Sips Of Odd Society’s Award-Winning, Barrel-Aged Bittersweet Vermouth

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by Shaun Layton | East Van’s excellent Odd Society Spirits is best known for its craft gins, vodkas and award-winning Creme de Cassis. The distillery’s bittersweet vermouth – on the market for two years now – is popular with local bartenders and quickly found homes on many backbars across the city. Based on viognier grapes sourced from Naramata, the fortified wine is spiked with 25 botanicals – among them orange, arbutus bark, cherry bark and wormwood – making it great for mixing (think Negronis, Manhattans, Blood & Sands, etc). It has a good balance of bitter and sweet, and it won’t overpower its counterparts. At $22 for 375ml, it’s also something of a steal.

But did you know they did a barrel aged version, too?

True story: about a year after putting the heel of a batch of bittersweet vermouth into a once-use bourbon barrel, Odd Society owner Gordon Glanz stumbled on the half-forgotten treasure and sent some to the New York Wine and Spirits Competition. That was earlier this year. The last thing he expected was for the 120 bottle experiment to win Double Gold, which it just did in August.

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The barrel-aged version a much more mature, sophisticated sip. The bourbon barrel (char level three) has imparted a silky mouthfeel and a much rounder overall palate impression. The time in the barrel has smoothed the rough edges and teased out pleasant vanilla and caramel flavours.

After recently drinking a lot of vermouth in Spain, I would drink this one as the Spaniards would: with a couple of rocks, a slice of orange and maybe an olive if you’re hungry! If mixing, make sure the base spirit can stand up to the vermouth (think Rittenhouse 100 rye or a high proof gin like Tanqueray 10). Don’t overcomplicate this one; keep it simple, and let the ingredients speak for themselves.

Get down to the distillery to pick up a bottle, as there are only a 120 or so, and they will all go fast. A 375ml bottle is $28. You can get it while its hot starting October 21.

Odd Society Spirits is open Thu-Sun at 1725 Powell St. | 604-559-6745 | www.oddsocietyspirits.com

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