The “QC” categories
In order to bring some transparency to the eyes of their consumers and partly because of a request from producers since some time ago, the SAQ has launched three categories for Quebec products.
Here are the names of these categories and their official significance:
- “Origine Québec” (products made by Quebec artisans and with homegrown ingredients)
- “Prepared in Quebec” (products designed or distilled in Quebec with homegrown Quebec ingredients and also ingredients from around the world)
- “Bottled in Quebec” (products assembled and bottled by a local company)
Although this provides us with detail, it still remains somewhat vague and especially in the eyes of professionals. Here is a little clarification.
To begin with, the classification is made on sole and absolute discretion by the producers. They classify their different products under one of the three labels and this allows the consumer to acquire a better idea of what they are purchasing.
“Origine Quebec” requires producers to source the vast majority of their ingredients from Quebec directly. This represents producing a spirit with a base alcohol made from grain to bottle by the distillery itself. The ingredients used in the production of the spirit in question must if all possible come directly from Quebec, unless it is not available (in quality, in quantity…).
“Prepared in Quebec” represents a spirit distilled or redistilled at least once at the distillery. It is therefore a place of production with its own still. There may be local Quebec ingredients as well as imported. The big difference comes mainly from the use of a neutral base alcohol bought in bulk from Greenfield Global. The difference will be relevant depending on the alembic, the temperature of preparation chosen, the chosen ingredients, the aromatics, the yeasts used, the concentrates, etc. for the type of spirit to be produced.
“Bottled in Quebec” is based mostly on brands that occasionally subcontract the distillation to micro-distilleries, but often to more industrial distilleries to produce volume at low cost. However, some can also choose to purchase a finished spirit and customize it by adding ingredients, completing maceration, or aging the product. Generally, they are mass products designed by marketing companies at the lowest possible cost to either achieve volume with an aggressive retail price, or to produce attractive profits by selling within the price points of the other two categories. To determine their strategy, your best bet is to visit the distillery directly if possible!
Bringing transparency and conscious shopping to individual consumers is one of the main reasons why DistilleriesCanada was created. This site is not intended to debate or criticize the taste of spirits. There are definitely several sources on the web for this kind of information. You will always find something that suits your taste and your budget. Because the consumer’s wants are unlimited, they will decide whether or not to rely on a certain product.
I hope this article will help you make the right choice. Cheers !