Last Mountain Hand Crafted Vodka
Review: Last Mountain Hand Crafted Vodka (90/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on November 1, 2012
Colin Schmidt was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in 1992. After being drafted, he spent four years playing College Hockey and then signed his first pro contract in 1996. Colin’s pro experience was brief, cut off by a few shoulder injuries after a short spell of what Colin referred to as “playing left bench.” Fortunately, as far as we are concerned, Colin’s story did not end there.
A few years later, Colin, who was working in the mortgage industry, and his wife, Meredith, whose background was in banking, began to look for their own business opportunities in Saskatchewan. Colin had a friend who had started up a micro-distillery in Colorado, and the idea to begin a similar operation in Saskatchewan was very appealing to them. In August of 2010, Colin and Meredith’s hard work and perseverance paid off when they opened Saskatchewan’s first micro-distillery, in Lumsden, Saskatchewan, called the Last Mountain Distillery.
At this time the only commercial spirit produced by the distillery is Last Mountain Hand Crafted Vodka (Colin and Meredith are planning to release their first batch of whisky in November). The hand-crafted vodka is produced one batch at a time under the care and supervision of the Distillers, Colin and Meredith Schmidt. The Vodka is triple distilled and filtered three times through stone carbon before it is brought to 40% ABV and bottled. Each bottle is uniquely identified by batch and bottle number authenticating the brand as a hand crafted vodka. Colin arranged for me to receive a bottle from batch number 12 and asked me to provide a review. I set up a gathering with my friends, and we sampled the Vodka blind in a tasting with three other Vodkas I had recently acquired. This review represents my thoughts with respect to Lumsden’s own Last Mountain Vodka.
The First Impression 9/10
Last Mountain Vodka arrives in an tall, elegant slender bottle (see below left). These tall bottles seem to be popping up all over nowadays, and I have been forced to adjust my liquor shelves to accommodate their growing numbers. Each of the Last Mountain bottles is identified with a unique batch number and bottle number. The sample bottle I received was from Batch number 12 and is identified as bottle number 23 from that batch. Finally, the bottle is sealed with a nice tight synthetic cork. The only drawback to the presentation is lack of ‘pop’ in the label. Its not that the label is unattractive or anything like that, it just doesn’t stand out quite as well next to some of those other bottles I have on my shelf. Given that this is a brand new Vodka from a brand new micro-distiller I am more than satisfied.
The First Sip 18/20
I had invited three other persons to taste the Last Mountain Vodka with me as part of a flight of four Vodkas which were enjoyed on a Sunday Evening in Late September. I served each Vodka blind such that only I knew what we were tasting. (The spirits were chilled to about 1 degree Celsius before we began.) When I poured out the samples of Last Mountain Vodka into each shot glass for my guests, we discovered the vodka displayed a pleasing light citrus (lemon and lime) aroma and a clean mouth-feel that was very appealing. I noticed a mild rye-like spiciness in my mouth, and when I sipped the spirit those lemon and lime sensations seemed to grow as the vodka sat on my tongue. Even at room temperature, the vodka did not get harsh when sipped. This was a very nice beginning!
Taking a Shot 17.5/20
The first full swallow (shot) of the Last Mountain Vodka was very nice. The spirit imparted a spicy but gentle ‘pop’ in the back of my mouth with warm citrus flavours that went down smoothly. The clean mouth-feel continues to impress all of my guests (and myself), and pleasant aftertastes of lemon and lime are all that remain after the swallow.
The only drawback, (and I want to make it clear that this is a very minor point) is that a very light burn creeps into the throat when taking a full-sized swallow. This burn does not get uncomfortable, and it does not increase at warm serving temperatures. It seems to have more to do with a grainy spiciness of the vodka, than it has to do with any harshness of the spirit.
Out for Dinner 18/20
When one sips a nice crisp clean Vodka, they will notice that it tends to cleanse the palate between bites of food making the mouth more receptive to the food experience which comes after. My friends and I had an assortment of smoked sausages, a platter of cut bread and spinach dip, some bite sized veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, and celery), and some pieces of pizza which we served with the vodka. The idea is to take a bite of food, follow it with a swallow of Vodka and then take another bite of food. Then we decide if the food tastes better when paired with Vodka. In the case of the Last Mountain Vodka everything was tasting great. There were no bitter aftertaste nor any metallic flavours translating to either the food or the vodka. The food tasted fresh and delicious, and the Vodka continued to taste clean and nice.
Last Mountain Hand Crafted Vodka is a really nice mixing Vodka. The crisp clean taste of the Last Mountain worked very well in each of the cocktails I tried. The Cosmopolitan I served my friends was tart and lightly sweet with the flavours of the fruit really jumping in the drink. The Vodka also mixed well in the other Vodka cocktails I made during subsequent tasting sessions (the Rustic Breeze, the Vodka Daiquiri, and the Vodka Darby). I could have chosen any of these cocktails to feature with the Last Mountain Vodka but instead I went out on a limb with my own creations, the Mountain Raspberry Cocktail and the Mountain Raspberry Punch (see recipes below).
Final Score 90/100
Excellent for Sipping, for Shots and for Cocktails
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Vodka Reviews.
Mountain Raspberry Cocktail
1 1/2 oz Last Mountain Vodka
3/4 oz Grapefruit Juice
3/4 oz Cranberry Juice
1 Tbsp Raspberry Syrup
a twist of lime
Pour the Vodka the juice and the raspberry syrup into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain and pour into a chilled cocktail glass
Complete by expressing the juice from a slice lemon peel on top of the cocktail
It is very easy to turn this recipe into Mountain Raspberry Punch
Mountain Raspberry Punch
2 oz Last Mountain Vodka
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
1 oz Cranberry Juice
1/4 oz Lime juice
1/2 oz Raspberry Syrup
Build in a Large Tumbler and Enjoy!
As usual you may (loosely) interpret my score 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 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)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly Recommended for Vodka Shots and Sublime Cocktails)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)