Carmel Craft Cannabis Strain Review By Samantha Sebo at Budders Cannabis Dispensary in Toronto.Hello spliff sisters and bong brothers! I hope that you’re all well, elevated, and soaking in the summer’s sunshine. It’s Sam here, your sativa smoking & strain seeking budtender. I am overjoyed to share my rundown of local craft cannabis grower: Carmel. This Health Canada approved licensed producer (Carmel Pharms circa 2019) is located in the beautiful countryside of south-central Ontario township, Oro-Medonte. They offer local legacy products in a legal pouch. So, without further adieu, here is my honest-to-goodness stoner standpoint on Carmel.
Carmel is trying to compete against all the other LP’s by putting out some of the most fire products that the recreational market has seen. It started for them in 2005 with the first plants grown and bag sold. They’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, just ensure that the rims are spinning with BLING. Their facilities, consisting of a 20,000 square foot greenhouse and a 13,500 square foot processing facility, are adjacent to Lake Simcoe on about 150 acres of land.The water used during their plants’ growth cycle is pulled from the natural artesian well right below them. I’m stoked about this next level smoke because it reminds me of my hometown,Sutton, and all the time I’ve spent on Simcoe. Their sativa strain, Animal Face, is ideal for a paddle board adventure or tossing the frisbee around with your buds!
I like to support small businesses and provincially crafted products as much as possible. Shopping mindfully allows me to feel confident that the money I spend is cycled back into our local economy and community. The Cannabis world is unfolding very similarly to the beer world. Craft beer brewers are now gaining market share with tastier products and I hope that the same trend will follow suit in the Cannabis industry. Carmel is independently owned and operated, growing products with pride in Oro Medonte. Most of their major competitors are based out of province (Qwest, BLKMKT, OGEN available for purchase at Budders Cannabis store near you).
They also recycle the water that they use throughout the growth cycle to reduce waste. Not to mention in the last year they’ve grown from 12 to 40 employees. This makes Carmel a great LP buy for the mindful Ontario cannabis connoisseur. Feel good, smoke loud, feel good. Rinse, wash, repeat.
One of the reasons that I applaud Carmel is that they are passionately working towards the improvement of the legal cannabis industry. Their growth formula follows a quality over quantity mindset and is grown in small batches. Their nugs shine because of the driven and knowledgeable team behind them. They have 15 years worth of genetics between their two grow masters and have done enough pheno-hunting to hone in on some slappin’ strains. The team has collectively spent 30 years building rapport with North America’s premium breeders. Carmel’s team seems to be full of passionate, kindhearted people (two brothers, a father of 3, and a processing manager that’s been working alongside the master grower for years).
SIDEBAR: Pheno-hunting, Who?
Pheno-hunting is the process of selecting the best phenotype of a strain for mass production. It’s also the secret to ensuring that the best genes are passed from generation to generation. When a female and male cannabis plant are bred to create a new strain, the female produces many seeds, all of which are phenotypes.
Each phenotype will express a unique combo of traits from their parents. A cannabis breeder will grow several plants and then select the most desirable one based on exceptional qualities such as resin production, potency, weight, aroma and flavour.
Growers will sift through germinated seeds to select plants with desirable traits of colour, smell, cannabinoid content as well as growth characteristics.
Some of these growth characteristics are: resistance to pests, overall height, total flowering time and average yields.
This process potentially takes months or even years. Phenotypes have to be grown from seed, harvested, buds dried & then cured to determine quality. Once the best of the best is selected it will get cloned to get exact copies of it preserving its genetics. Those clones will then be mass produced for sale.
For example: “out of all of the Berry G seeds planted, #33 is my favourite. Let’s call it Berry G #33”
- Growth structure: The plant’s height, weight, build, density, and root strength
- Hardiness: The plant’s reaction to temperatures, dependence on water, resistance to mold and pests, overall strength, peak maturity
- Terpene profile: The aroma coming from each flower
- Appearance: Is that bud beautiful?
- Trichomes: lanky & small or short-stalked & fat
Their products have massive bag appeal. Whole flower half quarters are packaged in a bright 70’s retro-vibe orange and nitrogen flushed pouch. This extra step is supposed to ensure a terpene ‘pop’ upon opening.
A lot of bagged buds on the market I find SO annoyingly difficult to get into. Carmel’s resealable pouches are easier to open because of their “place thumb here” directive and thumb hold. Carmel is the first LP to offer a “what’s inside” section, on the back of the bag. I find it to be a nice transparent touch. It offers information such as: breeder, lineage, expected appearance, aromas, flavours, and terpene profile.
This LP (licensed producer) recently dropped Animal Face in pre-rolls and they totally slap! They are phenomenally packaged in an amber, reusable, glass doob tube & cork lid! A bit of a bummer, mind you, that the tube is packaged in an orange pouch as well. I would like to challenge Carmel to rethink their half quarter packaging’s sustainability. Might I suggest a flashy recyclable glass container? Perhaps pop a boveda in? Now that would razzle & dazzle me!
Carmel’s Growth Formula:
My fellow budtender Cory would say, “they really take the time to put TLC (tender, love, and care) into their products.” As previously mentioned, this really shines through with their growth methods. Carmel’s grow rooms have the capability of full artificial lighting (like a perfectly sunny day every day) but also are able to use natural light during the plants’ growth cycle which collects full-spectrum lighting.
Artificial lights try to mimic full-spectrum lighting but cannot truly achieve it. That’s why Carmel supplies their plants with the best of both worlds for strain specific lighting. They also hang dry their plants for 10 to 14 days and keep their environment at 60°F with 60% humidity which allows for a slow, cool, drying process. Best believe that they also hand trim their nugs. In my opinion, hand-trimmed weed should be the industry standard because LPs should want to showcase the sparkling and shimmering trichomes on their zaza.It’s clear that Carmel appreciates the importance of properly curing their ‘juana because they take almost a month to finish the process. They cold cure for a minimum of 14 days in food grade barrels that are burped daily. Burping the curing barrels simply means opening and closing the lid repeatedly ensuring that the flower equalizes. Not rushing the process, in my opinion, is one of the main factors that differentiates reggie from the good good! Curing is key because it eliminates byproducts from your cannabis, protects it from bacteria, and enhances the flavour by securing the delicate bouquet of terpenes. Carmel allows enough time for moisture to be slowly removed from their buds under controlled environmental conditions to hit the sweet spot of a final moisture content of 11-14%. Also, they don’t irradiate!
Strain Review:In my opinion, all of Carmel’s strains pack a PUNCH. They provide the premium quality products to match the higher end price tag. They’re definitely a smoke that I would recommend giving a go! Personally, my favourite is Animal Face because I love a tasty, strong sativa. I thoroughly enjoyed the Mac 1 as a changeup from my regular smoke. It definitely hit me like a true hybrid -- munchies included! Garlic Breath’s flavour profile is luxurious and exactly what I want when I smoke an indica. I have yet to try Drew’s Dark Helmet but have heard the hype! It’s definitely a strain on my “to try” list. All of the strains have massive bag appeal, offering large nugs. My one qualm with Carmel’s strains is their consistency in THC levels. I’ve noticed that when they drop a new product to market it is released at a very potent, impressive THC level. As the buzz around the product decreases, it appears that the THC levels follow suit. I’m not sure if this is just a coincidence or my bad luck. Regardless, it’s certainly something that I’m keeping an eye on.
Whether you’re just chilling on the couch & munching out, or cutting the grass, or passing a doob round with the boys I think that Carmel has a strain for you. I shared some of the product with my fellow budtenders at Budders to get their input as well. The team at Budders all agree that these strains have a great nose, taste, and remind us of a “highschool” high. Carmel’s top shelf cannabis is certainly worth a try!
ANIMAL FACE (Face Off OG x Animal Mints) Sativa Dom. THC: 22-28%
Carmels’ logo, the “OK” hand gesture (commonly seen as a way to indicate that all is well) couldn't be more spot-on. All is “A-Okay” when I smoke some of their Animal Face. It's a 5 Star Sativa selected out of 100 different phenos, specifically for its unique flavours of: lemon, walnut, cake and pine. Other aromas include diesel and lemon pine sol. It certainly does have a sweet, citrusy fuel flavour which is my personal favourite. It provided me with elevation, euphoria, and then a nice coast back to reality. Animal Face is a powerful strain well suited for those with a heightened tolerance. Ashley (fellow spliff slinger at Budders and soulful singer) experienced a warm, uplifting, comfortable high. I would describe it as a clean sativa high. It’s a great daytime smoke, especially before a workout. The bud is resinous, mossy green intertwined with bright orange hairs. It was Bred by Seed Junky Genetics, California and draws from some of the most famous California genetics. It offers an impressive terpene content (3.51%) consisting of Myrcene, Limonene, and Farnesene and often presents as a 80% sativa & 20% indica mix.
Animal Face is known for giving a full mind and body ‘tingling’ high. I suggest eating a mango 45 minutes before an Animal Face session. It will allow the THC to absorb into your body quicker and the high will last longer. An even better suggestion is to try pairing a Mango Pineapple XMG (available for purchase at budders) with this Myrcene packed strain. I often find flavour can differ when an LP offers their strain in multiple formats. This is not the case with Camel’s. This phenomenal pheno-hunted cannabis is offered in 3.5g and pre-rolls and one I’ll certainly be going back to!
MAC 1 (Alien Cookies x Miracle 15, S1) Hybrid THC: 20-26%
Flavour, flavour, flavour! If you’re looking for a tasty treat to roll up in a joint, this is the strain for you! The nose on this MAC 1 is very pungent, highlighted by a tangy-sweet & nutty earth aroma. Think “citrus ZING” or a sweet & sour fuel. The aroma reminds me of an orange creamsicle! The other tasting notes that Carmel offers are lemon pine-sol and gas. Cory and I both agree that this MAC 1 provides more flavour than the citizen’s stash’s MAC1 (available for purchase at Budders). There are quite a few Mac 1 strains on the market right now, and I would say that this takes the cake! It was exactly the high Brett (the newest budtender on our team) and I were looking for. Bailey, fellow cannabis connoisseur, said that it was a perfectly “balanced buzz”. It reminded us of a similar high to the first few times we smoked cannabis. Bailey, felloI suggest pairing 3.5g of Mac 1 with Collective Projects’ Blood Orange Yuzu & Vanilla Sparkling Juice.
MAC (Alien Cookies F2 #7 x Miracle 15) is a strain that was first bred by Capulator in 2016. MAC is a balanced hybrid created through crossing Jaws’ alien cookie with his Miracle 15 Male. He later made some of his MAC seeds available and MAC 1 was eventually born out of his remaining seeds (first pheno, hence 1). MAC 1 is an S1 of a clone only MAC 1, which they pheno hunted across a variety of other MAC 1 seeds as well as Capulator’s original MAC. Carmel’s nugs are light mossy greens, purple lavender notes and oh, so, shiny! It has an impressive THC content (I tried it at 20% THC & less than 0.07% CBD). It also packs a punch because of its high terpene portfolio (4.26%) consisting of terpinolene, caryophyllene, and farnese.
GARLIC BREATH (GMO x Mendo Breath) Indica Dom. THC: 18-24%If you’re taking a night in, to roll & cuddle up this is the strain for you. Throw some netflix on and smoke some Garlic Breath. When Cory (fellow budtender at Budders Acton) tried Garlic Breath he really enjoyed the experience. He said that it hit heavy but not to the point of a full couch locked experience! Think: dank, “original buzz” kind of vibe. The Breeder is Thug Pug from Michigan and they chose the name for this strain based off of the name on the seed pack. Garlic Breath’s 3.5g nugs are blingy, light green with orange hairs throughout. The aroma and flavour portfolio is crushed garlic, coffee and tobacco. Cory and I really liked the earthy tones paired with a sweet flavour (almost like a vanilla coffee taste). When I sparked up Garlic Breath (THC 21.94%) in my pipe, I was amazed by the rich and earthy flavour notes paired with the instant relaxed buzz. The half quad I picked up offered large buds. I have held onto a beautiful 2g nug to bust up on a special occasion because it’s just so beautiful! This strain offers a smooth, heavy cigar like exhale and is very enjoyable to smoke. It also has a high terpene level (3.97%) consisting primarily of limonene, caryophyllene, pinene and myrcene. I can’t wait for Garlic Breath to hit the market in pre-rolls!
DREW’S DARK HELMET (GSC & JAWA PIE) Indica Dom. THC: 17-23%
I have yet to try Drew’s Dark Helmet, but it’s on my list! This strain created a ton of buzz when it first hit the recreational market and made a name for Carmel in craft cannabis. The rare genetic is named after their master grower who developed it, Drew. This master grower has two decades of experience and has access to 300 different genetics in the seed vault. Drew’s Dark Helmet was bred by Ocean Grown Seeds and was created by crossing form cut GSC & JAWA PIE. This bud should be a dense half quad with purple marbling & orange pistils. It’s another Carmel strain packed full of flavour. It offers notes of jet fuel, lime, and sugar cookies. I’ve heard that the smoke is thick and the high is more relaxed. The strain’s dominant terpenes are myrcene, caryophyllene, and pinene. The pre-rolls are coming soon!
S.W.E.D Summary:I can’t wait to see the rare breeds & limited grows that Carmel brings to the table next! As a cannabis enthusiast, I believe in the legacy of their product. I think that we’re extremely fortunate as Canadians to live in a country with legalized Cannabis. We need more LPs like Carmel to push the envelope and challenge Ontario industry standards.
T.D.L.R: The weed was so good that (like the true stoner I am) this article was a wee bit delayed. Whoever said stoners are “procrastinators” are horribly mistaken, because we just love in depth research *cough cough* especially when it calls for smoking weed! I’m honoured to be able to write this article & thank you for taking the time to read -- lessons and blessings!