Loon Liquor Co. of Northfield has spent considerable effort over the last few years perfecting a lineup of liqueurs. Their coffee liqueur is well known to The Growler staff as what re-endeared us to White Russians. Their blueberry liqueur has the purest, most clarion fruit flavor of any berry spirit we’ve tasted. And their elderflower liqueur makes St-Germain taste sickly sweet in comparison—instead, it’s full of grassy, hay, and pollen notes behind a mild floral sweetness.
Lately, the certified-organic distillery has embarked on a new Experimental Series, producing limited runs of a few specialty distillates. They hope to use it as a proving ground for some wider releases—like a rhum agricole made from evaporated cane juice and blackstrap molasses that they hope can capture a bit of the Bacardi crowd in the Cannon River valley.
This holiday season’s entry to the Experimental Series is a little more niche, but fans of aquavit especially should take notice. The Christmas Spirit #1 (35% ABV) is a spice liqueur that wraps a bundle of baking spice flavor with some woodsy notes as well as two gifts from the Magi—Frankincense and myrrh. (Yes, we asked—gold is both flavorless and expensive, so it didn’t make the blend.)
The result is potent and fragrant—they were aiming for an Alpine-style liqueur, like Zirbenz or a Genepy, with holiday flavors leading the way. You get spruce and juniper flavors on the nose, leading into clove, star anise, ginger, and allspice mingling on the sip, and a quick stint in oak mellows out the finish.
We have to imagine that the addition of frankincense and myrrh were more for the novelty of the idea rather than their flavor compounds, but the spirit does strike a resinous, balmy profile to which they both contribute.
This liqueur is a prime candidate for a hot toddy or to spike a warm apple cider. Add a little brown sugar and orange rind, and it’d make a swell Christmas old fashioned. They only made 40 cases of Christmas Spirit—look for it at the Northfield distillery and the municipal liquor store in town. In the metro area, try Stinson Wine, Beer, and Spirits, Zipps Liquors, or Lake Wine & Spirits.
And stay tuned for the next entry in Loon Liquor Co.’s Experimental Series: an aquavit, arriving by year’s end.