SHARP & BEARFACE
While the global world of whisky is steeped in tradition, there are certain freedoms that come from being based out of “newer” regions that dabble in the craft. Scottish and Irish producers in particular are often bound by their respective heritage, whereas newer entrants to the category — British Columbia-based BEARFACE being a perfect example — have proven themselves free to rewrite the rulebook in many respects. Case in point, the brand’s inaugural launch in its brand-new Wilderness Series: the Matsutake Release 01.
To some, arguably not that many of you, the Matsutake mushroom is a rare and desirable form of fungii. Known for its charming flavour and aroma, the Matsutake (from Japanese “pine mushroom”) only grows in a small number of locations around the globe, can only be harvested once a year, and is extremely sensitive to changes in climate. What’s more, it’s also become the third most expensive mushroom on the planet, falling just behind the Himalayan Yartsa Gunbu and European White Truffle. Exclusivity aside, both its flavour profile and its growing region in British Columbia’s Monashee mountains — located roughly half way between Kamloops and Banff — made it the perfect addition to this limited edition whisky.
This first release is the beginning of something quite special from BEARFACE, and a journey that we’re eager to follow. The Matsutake Release 01 will be hitting shelves this spring, but due to the nature of its production it will only be on shelves for a limited time. Subsequent releases from the Wilderness Series will continue to drive home the brand’s connection to the wilds of British Columbia, using more exceptional foraged ingredients found in the Monashee mountains. “The BEARFACE Wilderness Series is another example of how we connect with nature and the elements to create whiskies that are wilder and more adventurous than anything else out there”, notes the brand’s Master Blender, Andres Faustinelli. “Here in Bear Country, we have the inspiration, and we have the freedom to make wild ideas happen. This is whisky the world wishes it could make, but only Canada can”.
If we take the scarcity and value of the Matsutake out of the equation for a moment, the use of this mushroom in the ageing process of this whisky still makes a fair amount of sense. It has natural and earthy flavours — including notes of pine, cinnamon, and just a touch of bitterness. This added character is a welcome addition to a traditional whisky profile, both on its own, and when it comes to mixing the Bearface Wilderness Series Matsutake into cocktails. Mushrooms have made sporadic appearances in creative cocktails, especially in the competition scene. BEARFACE has already created a handful of specialty cocktails with this limited whisky, including this interesting take on the Mai Tai. We’ve included the recipe below.
Though fresh to market, the BEARFACE Wilderness Series Matsutake Release 01 is already receiving high praise. The 2022 Canadian Whisky Awards presented the BEARFACE release with a Silver Medal for Best Corn Whisky. This bodes well for the new release, as it comes on the heels of the brand’s double Gold win at the 2021 edition of the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Whether neat, on the rocks, or mixed, the Matsutake Release 01 is worthy of a spot in your bar, and at $49.95, we don’t expect it to last on store shelves for long when it arrives in liquor stores across the country (in all provinces except Quebec). It’s presently available in Ontario, and will make its way across other Canadian provinces in April of 2022.
Matsutake Mai Tai Recipe
- 2oz BEARFACE Matsutake Whisky
- 1/4oz Orgeat
- 1/4oz Sugar syrup
- 1/2oz Cointreau
- 3/4oz Fresh lemon juice
- 3 Dashes Angostura bitters
- Add all ingredients to mixing glass filled with ice and stir, giving around 30ml dilution.
- Strain into new glass with fresh ice.
- Garnish with fresh pine (squeeze pine for aroma).