All you need to know about Quebec white vermouths

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 considered choice. Being a big fan of dirty martinis, I chose to explore the world of white vermouths.

Sarah Apéro
by Sarah Apéro
All you need to know about Quebec white vermouths


Vermouth comes from the German word “Wermut”, meaning “absinthe”, a bitter plant often used in the production process. White vermouth is made from white wine, generally dry and light, to which various herbs, spices, flowers, citrus peel and sometimes even fruit are added. The origin of vermouth is still debated, but it has long been used in the creation of classic cocktails such as the Martini, Manhattan, Negroni and Spritz.

A few years ago, on a trip to Spain, I was surprised to learn that Spaniards consumed vermouth “straight” for aperitifs.

I was recently asked if all Quebec vermouths are made with apples, so I decided to dig around and find out more. It’s possible that some Quebec white vermouth producers incorporate apples or apple derivatives into their recipes to bring specific flavors or to highlight local ingredients. However, it’s not true to say that all Quebec white vermouths are made from apples. The diversity of producers and manufacturing approaches means that there can be a wide variety of recipes and ingredients used in white vermouths produced in Quebec.


A little pro tip: I recently learned that we should keep our bottles of vermouth in the fridge once they’ve been opened. It’s a fortified wine that can oxidize, since the low alcohol content means it’s not as stable as a 40% alc./vol. spirit.

1.  Rouge Gorge white from Domaine Lafrance

It contains over 100 herbs and spices, including wormwood, savory, elderflower, fennel, gentian root and raspberry leaf. Unlike other vermouths, this one is made from white cider, not wine, then fortified with apple brandy. That’s why Rouge Gorge is known as an apple vermouth.

I found the apple, absinthe and boreal spices to be very present, and really loved the gentle balance of all the ingredients. It’s a unique and complex vermouth, but perhaps a little less boilerplate.

It is available at the SAQ for 22.95$ for 750ml. The white Rouge Gorge from Domaine Lafrance is 100% Origine Québec.


2.  Kayak white vermouth

It is made from 19 hand-picked, 100% natural plants indigenous to Quebec. Kayak white vermouth is inspired by the traditional approach to dry vermouth. It was created in response to Quebecers’ growing interest in mixology and artisanal spirits.

Personally, I found it to have light notes of lemon and herbs.

It is available at the SAQ for 21$ for 750ml. Kayak white vermouth is Bottled in Québec.


3.  Lab Val Caudalies sweet vermouth

This is a sweet, fresh, complex amber vermouth made from wine. The balance between its fruity sweetness and spiciness blends perfectly with the liveliness of the wine. It contains many herbs, including the wormwood plant.

Rather amber-colored, I found it fruity and very bitter.

It is available at the SAQ for 25.95$ for 500ml and is 100% Origine Québec.


4.  Dry Vermouth Lab Val Caudalies

This one has a lively herbaceous bitterness and is made from premium white wine. It reveals notes of spice, fruit and olive, making it the perfect ingredient for a dirty martini.

Personally, I found it more herbal and less bitter than the sweet version of the same product, with an extra touch of acidity.

It is available at the SAQ for 26.65$ for 500ml and is 100% Origine Québec.


In conclusion, if you want to make yourself a dirty martini, I suggest Kayak White Vermouth or Lab Val Caudalies Dry Vermouth, with a slight preference for the latter. If you prefer negronis or spritzes, I suggest Lab Val Caudalies Sweet Vermouth. And finally, if you want to drink it on the rocks or as a tonic, I strongly suggest you try Domaine Lafrance’s Rouge Gorge blanc.

If you’re feeling dirty and daring, I suggest you try our recipe for dirty martini blanc with blue cheese.