Chic Choc comes from the Mi’kmaq word sigsôg, meaning either ‘crags’ or ‘rocky mountains’. The spelling has changed numerous times as languages have evolved. It’s the name of a thin 95 km Quebec mountain range that has 25 summits, between 3000-4160 feet. These are the northern mounts of the Appalachian Range and are home to Eastern Canada’s ski culture – evidently used to conjure a certain vibe for the prospective taster of the spiced rum.
The rum comes from the same company that produced the intriguing Ungava Gin, which also features an indigenous blend of Nordic botanicals. The premise of the gin was to use botanicals sourced from the Ungava Peninsula, the northernmost point of Quebec. Company President, Charles Crawford, wanted the theme to be solidly pre-colonial, saying it contained, “Nothing planted by Europeans.”
Following a similar trajectory, the spices in the rum are all sourced from the Nordic Chic Choc alpine range in Quebec. They are the purported findings of some mysterious explorer. Famously unreliable liquor lore aside, the Nordic spice blend is listed, as follows.
The Spices that flavor Chic Choc
Pepper Green Alder – Which can be used as a musky black pepper flavor.,
Pine Forest Spikenard – Noted for its resin fresh eucalyptus and green cardamom flavor.
Witherod Berries – The ripe berries are very sweet and are commonly used to make syrup, or brandy, in Quebec. ,
Lovage Root – A flowering plant in the same family as carrots, parsley, and dill. It looks something like celery with leaves resembling cilantro. It is a sweet herb that is used in medicine as an aquaretic.
Sweet Gale Seeds – Derived from Myrica Gale, aka “Bog Myrtle’. Gale foliage has a sweet resinous scent that’s a traditional insect repellent. A traditional component of Royal Wedding bouquets it is also used in perfumery. A traditional condiment. Before the use of hops in beer to flavor and preserve, there was the widespread use of Gruit herbs. Gale seeds were in these Gruit blends.
Wild Angelica – Used as a vegetable until the 20th century. The plant has many medicinal uses, including the prevention of scurvy. Considered the third most important botanical in the production of gin (Beefeater uses both the herb and the seed) and as an ingredient in Chartreuse! It has an earthy flavor.
Flavor of Chic Choc, a review
The nose has faint hints of the rum base. Slight hints of caramel and musty cola, which is likely the tandem of the Angelica and Lovage.
Appearance can be easily altered with flavored rums so lets say: Appealing!
Taste: Complex, densely layered and pleasant. There’s a fair amount of lingering heat. The resin notes of the Spikenard and peppery texture of the Green Alder are very present. The botanicals hug the mouth and resonate.
Verdict: It’s a fun spirit to play with in Tiki drinks and in winter cocktail menus. I recommend trying it in a Spice, Corn & Oil.
Spice, Corn & Oil
1 oz Bacardi 8 Year (or the like)
1 oz Chic Choc Spiced Rum
1/2 oz Falernum
1/3 oz fresh lime, to taste
3 heavy dashes Ms. Better’s Batch 42 Aromatic Bitters (or the like)
Add ingredients to stirring vessel. Stir with ice and strain over fresh ice. Garnish with lime.
Personally, I prefer the heavier stirred version of a Corn & Oil, in all its spiciness. If you want a tall refreshingly shaken version check out the Standby’s Corn & Oil.