All you need to know about Quebec amarettos

With more and more Quebec products appearing on SAQ shelves, it’s impossible to taste everything. So, one article at a time, I’ve decided to explore the world of each spirit from a local angle to help you make an informed and conscious choice. This time, I’ve chosen to explore the universe of Quebec amarettos.

Sarah Apéro
by Sarah Apéro
All you need to know about Quebec amarettos


According to legends, amaretto was invented in Saronno, a small town in Lombardy, Italy, towards the end of the 16th century. It is from this same legend that the Disaronno Originale spirit takes its name. Traditionally, the spirit was made with neutral alcohol, bitter almonds, sugar and sometimes herbs or spices to flavor the liqueur.

Although the most famous and traditional versions still come from Italy, many producers around the world have developed their own versions of this bitter almond liqueur.

There are no official categories for amaretto, as there are for some other alcoholic beverages. However, amarettos can be differentiated according to their characteristics, origin or production method.

The classic amaretto sour is appreciated for its simplicity and balance of flavors. For many, it’s even considered the best way to enjoy amaretto liqueur. Personally, I prefer it on ice, but I also think it should be compatible with the famous cocktail.

On a more local note, here’s an exhaustive list of all the local amarettos I’ve had the chance to taste and my impressions. I should mention that, unfortunately, none of the wonderful amarettos I was lucky enough to discover is 100% Origine Québec.

To put you in context, I did this blind tasting with 3 of my best buddies. We tasted each amaretto straight and in amaretto sour. Here are our conclusions:

1. Equinoxe Amaretto

I’d never tasted Nomades spirits before, but I was really impressed by their products. The company travels from distillery to distillery to make their products. Outsourcing allows them to focus on exploring methods and processes.

The liqueur is 27% alc./vol. and can be bought at 37.25$ at SAQ. There is almond in it, but also Morello cherry, Quebec-grown cranberry, cinnamon and coffee. The berries add a surprising acidity that marries perfectly with the sweet liqueur. We really enjoyed it, especially on the rocks.


2. Valentine Amaretto

Alpha Tango, a Val-d’Or distillery, is renowned for its bold, original flavor blends. The father-son duo clearly delivers.

The liqueur is 25% alc./vol. and costs 33$. It’s truly one of a kind, as it’s infused with cocoa and hibiscus flower. Personally, I prefer Valentine on the rocks or in another cocktail than as an amaretto sour. It reminds us a lot of the famous Black Forest cake.


3. Monalisa Amaretto

Formerly Maison des Futailles, Mondia Alliance or Kruger Vins et Spiritueux, Station 22 has been selecting, bottling and marketing products for 100 years. It is the same company that distributes Sortilège and Barista liqueurs.

The liqueur is 23% alc./vol., costs 36.75$ and its 1.14L jumbo format is much appreciated. Slightly sweeter than Disaronno, it’s really appreciated as an amaretto sour. In straight form, it was the favorite of one of my companions.


4. O’Dwyer Dartmouth Amaretto

O’Dwyer, a Gaspé distillery, is named after the Irish settlers who found refuge in Gaspésie during the great Irish potato famine of 1845-1849.

The liqueur is 24% alc./vol. and is available at 35.50$ at SAQ. It is flavored with lichen and raspberry. There are notes of caramel, butterscotch and butter candy. It’s like no other amaretto you’ve ever tasted, completely unique. We all preferred it on the rocks rather than as an amaretto sour, because of its rich notes.


5. Cherry River Amaretto & Black cherries

The Cherry River distillery is located in Magog, and I strongly suggest you pay them a visit to sample their many products.

The 26% alc./vol. liqueur is delicious as an amaretto sour, but reaches perfection when Cherry River ginger beer is added. Subtle notes of menthol and butter candy. You can buy it at the SAQ for 39.50$.

6. Monsieur Cocktail Noa Amaretto

I hadn’t told anyone that our tasting would include a non-alcoholic amaretto. My buddies didn’t notice at first sip, but they found it rather light and lacking in texture. In my opinion, it’s clearly a success. In fact, I strongly suggest you try my recipe for a cranberry amaretto sour. You can buy the bottle for 29.95$ on Monsieur Cocktail’s online boutique.

7. Vent du Nord Quirel Amaretto

The Vent du Nord distillery creates spirit recipes inspired by Quebec’s North Shore.

This amaretto is 24% alc./vol. and costs 26.35$. It’s called “Quirel” because it’s made with roasted hazelnuts. In all honesty, it wasn’t our favorite amaretto, as it gives off strong hints of alcohol. Personally, I prefer to drink it in a café comique with a little hazelnut syrup.


8. Miele

Les Spiritueux Iberville is a Montreal-based company that wants to offer Quebecers Italian-Quebec spirits, i.e. products inspired by Italy with Quebec ingredients.

The liqueur is 28% alc./vol. and is available at the SAQ at a price of 33$. The Miele is sweetened with local honey and is really delicious.


9. Miele Cream

I’ll never get over it. This creamy version of amaretto is absolutely sensational. Miele Crème is 18% alc./vol. It’s been harder to find on SAQ shelves lately, so don’t be impervious if you spot it and get yourself a bottle. This is clearly one of my favorite Quebec creams. It retails for 36$ but is out of stock on SAQ siteweb.


10. Avril

The liqueur is 26% alc./vol. The 750ml bottle is 36.75$ at SAQ. This is probably one of the first Quebec amarettos, a classic that everyone loves. It’s flavored with forest walnuts, apricot walnuts, maple syrup, coconut and balsam myrtle. Avril Amaretto is said to be nut-free, as allergens are completely eliminated during the distillation process, so it is considered suitable for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.


11. Amoretto di Wabasso

Amoretto was created by the Wabasso distillery, opened in 2017 in Trois-Rivières in honor of the Wabasso Cotton Company, a very important factory in the history of textiles in Quebec. Wabasso means “snow-white rabbit” in the language of the Ojibwe, a First Nations people.

The liqueur is 26% alc./vol. and costs 35$ at SAQ. It is very syrupy and smooth. Although very much focused on marzipan, it also reveals powerful notes of dark chocolate and candied orange. As an amaretto sour, Amoretto was the favorite of half our my test subject group!


I hope my article has convinced you to buy your next amaretto on the shelves of the Quebec section of the SAQ, because there are so many possibilities, each more original than the last. There really is something for everyone.