Review: Pike Creek 22 Year Old Finished in PX Sherry Casks by Jason Hambrey

ABV
45%
Aging
22 Years; Finished in PX Sherry Casks
Recipe
Double Distilled Corn Whisky & Rye Whisky
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

We get an old Pike Creek this year that is finished in Pedro-Ximinez (PX) sherry casks, which are impregnated with leftover PX wine - a sweet wine made from dried PX grapes that is fortified with brandy. The last three Pike Creek special releases have been wine finishes - Oloroso, Cabernet Sauvignon, and now PX. What is next - Brandy? I’d take a look at that if they did it…

On another note, I think this is the oldest pike creek so far.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L21138EW2247

  • Bottling Date: 2021

Lots of fruit on the nose! Rich dried fruit – raisins, prunes – but also stewed plums which are complemented by spice and light oak. The spice is quite rich on this one. It has lots of aged whisky notes. The fruit notes from the pedro ximinez (PX) sherry are quite dominant, but the aged whisky apple/blueberry notes actually fit in quite well. On the palate, it’s quite sweet – this sweetness builds to a syrupy finish that has a nice kick of tannin and dry spices. The finish remains sweet – it is a bit cloying. Over time (as the finish is quite long) it fades and there is a really nice, slightly dry and oaky finish. Surprisingly, the fruit doesn’t come out on this one.

It's very different than the 21 year old oloroso pike creek, which was my favourite pike creek. That one had all sorts of subtle synergies between the sherry and the whisky, and it really revealed to me that oloroso sherry can work really well with old light Canadian whisky – which I doubted before the fact. But, I don’t think PX is up to the same task…

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). Sub-par for these aged Pike Creek whiskies, but it still portrays some interesting components. And, if the slight sweetness doesn’t bother you, this could be up your alley with the kick of fruity notes.

Value: Low at $90.


Review: Lot No. 40 Rye Explorations Peated Quarter Cask by Jason Hambrey

ABV
55.5%
Aging
Virgin Charred Oak; Peated Quarter Cask
Recipe
100% Rye
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

We’ve seen a few distillers in Canada experiment with using peated quarter casks, notably Shelter Point - but, to the best of my knowledge, they’ve all been done using malted or unmalted barley as the base. Here you have two of the largest components of flavourful whisky, married: pot still, 100% rye whisky and peat.

After initially aging in new oak, it is finished for 17 years in first-fill peated single malt casks.

This is one of Wiser’s special releases this year, edition 1 of the “rye explorations” expression after a few successful years of cask-strength lot no. 40.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: Release No. 1

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2021

There is so much going on with the nose. On top – spice notes and a real kick of earthy, smoky peat. But then you also have bold, fruity, spicy, and floral rye underneath. The nice black tea notes of Lot 40 come through nicely. The rye is big and brash – it isn’t rounded out. This continues on the palate – smoke on top, rich fruity rye in the middle, and peaty earthy notes underneath. It’s a whole mishmash of flavours exploding in the mouth, but it doesn’t feel very organized or balanced. The earthy peat notes combined with the rye notes gives something somewhat reminiscent of a tequila – it doesn’t taste like one, but it has some of the same interplay between different flavour groupings.

This isn’t up my alley – but it is among the most unique Canadian whiskies (or whiskies in fact) that I’ve tasted. But, to me, peat and rye here aren’t a great marriage. I’d welcome more experimentation that has more to do with other factors than barrel finishing. While I understand finishing is a pretty easy way to do something different, it just isn’t that interesting most of the time. And, that’s something of the territory of the pike creek brand. I’d be all over some yeast, grain, fermentation, or maturation experiments that didn’t involve a finishing cask.

Value: Low at $90.


Review: Appleton Estate Signature Jamaican Rum by Jason Hambrey

Appleton Estate Reserve 2.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
From Molasses
Distiller Appleton Estate (Nassau Valley, Jamaica)

This is the lowest end of Appleton Estate’s line of rums, which I quite like. This one is great in cocktails, which is my general use for it, but why not give it a review?


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2020

 The nose here is woody, full of molasses, fresh tropical fruit, over ripe banana, sharp baking spices, grapefruit zest, hard strawberry candies, and more brown sugar. Oozing with complexity, and it has a subtle layer of funky intrigue which I like. The youth comes out, slightly, but it’s quite minor.

The palate continues – lightly sweet, full of brown sugar, molasses, coconut, baking spice, oak, and tropical fruit, more on the dried side this time. The finish is lightly sweet, with vanilla, molasses, baking spice, and light oaky tannins.

This is very easy, and it makes complete sense why so many bartenders use it in premium cocktails. It has lots of complexity while also not being too intense in any one of them.

I definitely prefer the 12, but I would have no problem taking one of these either. With the way whisky prices are going, it’s nice to have some spirit options on the table that deliver powerfully for the cost. This is one of those (as is the 12 year old).


Review: El Dorado Port Mourant 2006 Single Still Demerera Rum by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
12 Years Old
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller El Dorado (Guyana)

Another single still rum from El Dorado, this time from the wooden Port Mourant pot still. The stills were originally at the Port Mourant estate, which was founded in 1732 before moved to Uitvlught and then to El Dorado’s diamond estate. The still itself is likely between 200 and 250 years old, and it resembles a squat barrel with a copper alembic and lyne arm coming out the top. The stills are a set of two - the first feeds directly into the second still, and then a rectifying column.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: Distilled in 2006

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

What a wonderful rum! Instantly I can tell that this will be one of my favourite spirits of the year. A rich rubbery character, brilliant spices, olives, orange peel, fresh tropical fruit (jackfruit, soursop), banana leaves, clove, cinnamon, dried hibiscus flower, cacao, raspberry, banana….loads and loads of complexity and it works together so well. The palate is rich and introduces a rich savoury character, and you can still pick out so many flavours on the nose. There is a lot of texture to the palate and there is the lightest tanginess which just enhances all the flavour. The finish is rich, long, and spicy with all kinds of stuff – stale cola, cinnamon, caramel, soursop, intense rum ester notes, light sulphur, molasses, oak, and wet earth.

Assessment: Very Highly Recommended.


Review: El Dorado Enmore 2006 Single Still Demerera Rum by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
12 Years Old
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller El Dorado (Guyana)

El Dorado in Guyana uses three distinct stills to produce their rums, and from time to time they release rums which are made from a single still and show off the character of the individual still. This one is made from the Enmore still, which is a wooden continuous still (the last of its kind that is working). It is similar in design, if not identical, to the original coffey still designed by Aeneas Coffey in 1832. The Enmore still is the last surviving still from the old Enmore Estate, which was founded in the 1880s.

As for the wood used, it is greenheart - one of the hardest woods which was also used, famously, to coat the hull’s of Shakleton’s “Endurance” and Amundsen’s “Fran” to help them resist the crushing impact of Antarctic ice.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: Distilled in 2006

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

The rum is sweet on the nose, with a rich confectionary character – vanilla, icing sugar, raffaello candies – but also contrasted with a rich oak character and plenty of wet earth. It is somewhat remiscent of the 12 year old but it is purer, cleaner, and brighter. The palate is what we expect when we think El Dorado – rich, full flavoured, sweet, and spicy. There is a rich vegetal character to it – very nice, indeed, with light bourbon notes, sugarcane (actually!), and spice cake. It doesn’t nearly have the levels of sweetness that the 12 does, but it still has quite a sweet character.

Assessment: Highly Recommended.