Cheers to Local: Newfoundland Distillery Co Has Launched Rhubarb Vodka & Gunpowder Wild Rose Rum

The "Gunpowder" alluded to in the spirit's title might turn a few heads, so as a bit of an educational moment or refresher, Peter Wilkins of the distillery explains, " In the navy, rum was always ‘proofed’ before the sailors were given their daily ration. To do this, the purser would put some gunpowder in the rum and light it. If it flared up, the rum was as it should be, and the sailors would know they were getting their proper measure."

Barely a year old now, Newfoundland Distillery Co. has won a few noteworthy awards, and as of this month, launched 2 vodkas, 2 gins, a rum, and an aquavit (a somewhat rare and unique spirit ofNordic origin).

Given their dedication to date of featuring local products, or perhaps better worded, capitalizing on our wild bounty like seaweed and juniper (for their seaweed gin) or bakeapples and savoury (for their other gin) it’s no surprise their two new products use local ingredients like wild roses, rhubarb, and Newfoundland’s renowned honey.

In fact, the NL Distillery Co. has the claim to fame of making the first spirit ever produced in Newfoundland that was fully grown and legally distilled in the province.

The New Rum: Gunpowder & Wild Rose Rum

The “Gunpowder” alluded to in the spirit’s title might turn a few heads, so as a bit of an educational moment or refresher, Peter Wilkins of the distillery explains, ” In the navy, rum was always ‘proofed’ before the sailors were given their daily ration. To do this, the purser would put some gunpowder in the rum and light it. If it flared up, the rum was as it should be, and the sailors would know they were getting their proper measure.”

He says “we have taken this idea, and balanced it with the hint of roses to make a unique amber rum that satisfies those looking for a traditional rum, and, those looking for more subtle flavours with complex undertones.”

To achieve that gunpowder taste, they use sea salt from the Newfoundland Salt Company, locally harvested kelp (as a natural source of sulphur), and some charred birch for the carbon flavours, which contrast with the floral notes of wild Newfoundland roses.

“This makes for a unique rum, that opens up with the gunpowder flavours,” Wilkins says, “before the mellower tones of the aged rum, with hints of vanilla come into play, followed by the aromatic scents of wild Newfoundland roses.”

The New Vodka: Rhubarb Vodka

The Newfoundland Distillery Co. launched in May of 2017 with a vodka; one made of 100% barley, which gives it a little more body than most vodkas. It won silver at the 2018 Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition.

Their new vodka is infused with a local legend: rhubarb.  “It has the freshness and bite of just-picked rhubarb,” Wilkins says, “which is tempered with a dash of Bee Better honey from Grand Falls … [it] is ideal to drink on its own, or as a flavourful twist in vodka based cocktails, especially in citrus ones.” It would definitely make for an interesting vodka martini.

This spring, Newfoundland Distillery Co.’s Seaweed Gin won a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirit Competition, and their Cloudberry Gin won a Silver Medal. Sounds like these two new spirits are bound to possess and delight the palates of future judges in future competitions as well.

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