Originally appeared in The Grapevine: September 18th – October 3rd, 2014
Although I think I should be famous by now…or at least, RootLocal should be famous, the most common response to “I write RootLocal” is “Root what?” or “um, that’s nice.” Not so, with this week’s vendor. I approached Ironworks Distillery and was greeted by the lovely Amber with warm enthusiasm.
Ironworks makes an impressive array of alcoholic beverages. In fact, I would actually call it a dizzying array as I am not generally one to partake in spirits. Nonetheless, I was game to try and Amber is not only friendly and engaging, but she is also incredibly conversant in all things Ironworks.
One of the most interesting products Ironworks makes is their Pear Eau de Vie. I first “heard tell” of this inspired creation a couple of years ago. My parents live in Woodville and they are neighbours to the farmers (Boates) who grow the pears for this creative fruit brandy. They were the talk of the town as folk had seen bottles hanging from the trees! Ironworks comes and installs bottles on the wee pear fruitlet and lets it hang there until the pear is fully ripened, at which time the bottles are removed and the spirits begin to flow. Amber tells me that last year some 300 bottles were placed and there were 100 bottles of Pear Eau de Vie at the end of the entire process. She told me they are harvested before hurricane season. I did not even know we had a hurricane season, but then neither did Arthur.
The amazing part of the Pear Eau de Vie, though, is not the story or the presentation: it is the taste. I had one small mouthful of it two weeks ago and I can still recall the flavour precisely, I kid you not. It is fiery and smooth, clear and full, specific to the back of the throat and juicy to the entire mouth. It’s like the pear has transcended its pear-ness and become the very essence of pear at the same time. I may need to buy a bottle of this nectar and have a mouthful every two weeks, just to remind myself of the joy of pear.
For a great article and photo series on what this process looks like, visit the Chronicle Herald.
And now I’ve devoted two paragraphs (pear-agraphs?) to rhapsodizing about a swig of one offering, and I’ve not yet told you what I took home to sample!
Lest you are afraid of spirits, like me, Ironworks provides cunning little bottles available in trios. At first I was afraid I would have to choose 3 options from the aforementioned dizzying array, but Amber informed me that there were 3 groupings: a rum package, a brandy package, and an Apéritifspackage. Given that I’m a very junior consumer of spirits, Amber recommended the Apéritifs.
This lovely trio contained one blueberry, one raspberry, and one cranberry liqueur. I cannot even tell you which I liked the best. All I know is I am not a fan of fruit wines, and I am not crazy about fruit-infused beers. These are not either of those. I do not like sweet alcohol. These are not sweet. There is just enough sweet in the cranberry to take the tartness down to a drinkable level. They are all complex and wonderful and absolutely delightful to imbibe. They are very much meant to be savoured…and they’re spectacular drizzled over vanilla ice-cream. Like so:
So the moral of the story is: do not be scared like me. Go see Amber at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market and she will give you a sample that will blow your mind. Then take some home and enjoy it all over again. My brother also tells me the distillery offers a spectacular tour. Their website is glossy and informative: http://www.ironworksdistillery.com/ And I ran out of space to tell you about how crazy they are about sourcing every single thing as locally as possible.