As a valuable public service, we crack open spirits from B.C. to Bahrain and beyond, then give you a highly opinionated, pocket flask–sized review.
Today’s free pour
Sons of Vancouver Cigarettes on a Leather Jacket
“The release of Cigarettes was an idea long in the making, founded on the vision of overproof Canadian whiskies that didn’t taste like maple syrup. A blend of 3-to-5-year-old whiskies, 90 percent rye, 5 percent wheat, and 5 percent barley used in peated malt barrels. Crème brûlée nose with signature rye spice everywhere, fruity tobacco mid-finishing with oak, pine, and soot.”
Sometimes you stick the landing so perfectly the first time the question becomes “Where do we go from here?” Sons of Vancouver small-batch distillers James Lester and Richard Kraus have built a sterling reputation on the backs of their insanely popular Amaretto and straight-outta-Tiki-Town Craft Blue Curacao. While they might be new to the whisky game with this first attempt, they’re obviously fast learners. Cigarettes on a Leather Jacket rolled up at this year’s Canadian Artisan Spirits Competition, and promptly waltzed away with gold.
Let’s talk for a second about the name on the bottle. While your favourite surgeon general will strongly disagree, cigarettes have always had an undeniable cool factor. Dispute this all you want, but not until you’ve seen Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction. Or James Dean sitting on the hood of his Porsche 550 Spyder with a Chesterfield. Or Grace Kelly getting ready to light up while playing Peeping Tom in Rear Window. Or Princess Margaret smoking her brains out while free-pouring the scotch in The Crown. As for leather jackets, whether you’re talking Marlon Brando, the Ramones, or Joan Jett, the look is best described with one word: badass.
Turning our attention to what's inside the bottle, Cigarettes on a Leather Jacket is smoother than George Clooney on a red carpet, with an aroma as gorgeous as Royal Doncaster Butterscotch. Tastewise, expect vanilla-laced honeydew melon, ripe passionfruit, and spicy rye accented by whispers of old-world oak and soft smoke. Jesus Christ—pass the Marlboros, next stop heaven.
Okay the first question is “Why?” As in “why would you add anything—thyme-infused lemon juice, ginger-spiced simple syrup, or hand-crafted blackened cedar bitters—to Cigarettes on a Leather Jacket when it’s perfect on its own—either neat or on ice. All bottles were spoken for before the whisky left the casks, so if you’ve been lucky enough to get your hands on one, you’ll want to make it last. Last how long? Well, as the label on the bottle sagely offers, Cigarettes is “The whisky you want your friends to drink when you’re dead.”
If you must embrace your inner cocktail nerd however, let Cigarettes on a Leather Jacket take its rightful place at centre stage with a classic Manhattan.
2 ounces Cigarettes on a Leather Jacket
1 ounce sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters
Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass until well chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and then garnish with a brandied cherry.