Canadian Whisky

Review: Summer Breeze Pastis (North of 7 Distillery) by Jason Hambrey

Image copyright by North of 7 Distillery. Used with Permission.

Image copyright by North of 7 Distillery. Used with Permission.

ABV
45.5%
Aging
None
Recipe
N/A
Distiller North Of 7 (Ottawa, Ontario)

Micro-distilleries often produce some rather unique, tailored products - and here is a new one from Ottawa, a pastis., which is a licorice flavoured whisky commonly consumed in France with water. Like absinthe, you typically get a “louche” which is a cloudy appearance when you add water due to substances which are soluble in alcohol but not water (and as you add water, there is less alchol to dissolve the substances - hence the precipitation and cloudy appearance.

My experience with pastis is limited to the few major brands which make it over to Canada, so I was eager to see this as I haven’t explored much of the spirit - and because the quality surprised me.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

The nose, of course, is full of star anise - but what I love about this is the complexity of the other elements surrounding it - grapefruit, cinnamon, clove - these fit in so well with the star anise. Without adding any water, the entire nose is intense and powerful - and quite attractive.

The palate follows the nose, but there is a really nice spicy influence balanced with the sweet anise and the sharp citrus. I am by no means a pastis connoisseur, but this is a significant step up from Ricard! The balance of the spices and citrus with the star anise is just perfect. Long, spicy finish. It’s good with water, but also quite nice at the 45.5%.

If you add water, you get a nice louche, but it isn’t the green character rather you have a more natural spicy brown.

Assessment: Highly recommended - if you like licorice. If you don’t, you won’t like this…


Review: North of 7 Canadian Whisky (Four Grain) by Jason Hambrey

Image copyright by North of 7 Distillery. Used with Permission.

Image copyright by North of 7 Distillery. Used with Permission.

ABV
45%
Aging
3 Years; Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
51% Corn, 26% Wheat, 12% Rye, 12% Barley
Distiller North Of 7 (Ottawa, Ontario)

An Ottawa whisky (I am an Ottawa native, so I'm interested!) - made in a bourbon profile - made largely from corn, matured in New Oak, and using a four grain mash bill. North of 7 was perhaps the last craft distillery to get a contract with Independent Stave Company - the renowned maker of barrels for renowned Kentucky Distillers like Buffalo Trace, Jim Beam, and Heaven Hill. Because of the whisky boom, they won't take any more clients! All that to say, North of 7 has some pretty good casks...


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Cask 1

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

The nose has a nice grainy base with lots of caramel and a grassiness reminiscent of spicy pot still Iriish whisky. Vanilla, anise, methol, sharp new oak, corn husks, butterscotch, cucumber, and lots of grain notes – wheat flour, nutty grain, polenta, and light grainy earthiness. Surprisingly wheaty – cream of wheat comes through quite clearly. The youth of the nose is present, with a bit of rawness on the otherwise pleasant and grain-forward nose. The palate is corn and oak forward, with a light caramel rumble before a spicy and grain-laden finish. The anise is present throughout, and the spicy finish is lightly creamy with butterscotch – for good effect. They emphasize their casks, from Independent Stave Company (who also supply Buffalo Trace, Heaven Hill, and most of the other successful distilleries in Kentucky) – and for good reason. These casks will treat this whisky well, given a few more years.

Based on the mash bill and how it is matured, you might be expecting a bourbon. It’s reminiscent of the style – but it’s not. Either it is simply not warm enough in Ottawa, or it needs more time – but that is of no matter. A thoroughly enjoyable whisky, this, and shows lots of potential as the years will add on.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average (based on $60)


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Cask 2

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Centred on grainy notes, reminiscent of spicy mixed grain porridge, yet still with quite a bit of orchard fruit – peach and pear. Wheat really comes out. Tangy, too – the light bits of menthol, pineapple, and oak that play in nicely. Maltesers, milk chocolate, vegetal cacao, and a touch of green cardamom too. The oak and the grain are both so rich with this one – nice…

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average (based on $60)


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Cask 3

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

This now has more prominent notes suggesting wheated bourbon, which I didn’t get in the previous cask. Corn, vanilla, confectioner’s sugar, grape, light floral rye, clove, pear, toasted hazlenuts, blanched almonds, green tea, and a grainy, porridge-like character. There’s a sharp yeasty note too.  It really has come on – it makes me quite interested to know what this will taste like at 6+ yrs. The palate is lightly sweet, with a toffee backdrop with the grainy notes, coconut, and ripe banana on top. The finish has prune, cacao, lots of nuts, clove, and other baking spice. Lightly earthy, too, on the finish – nice touch.

There are still a few harsh notes which I expect to get ironed out as it gets older – but this is coming along well! These also lift off as the bottle is open a bit.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average (based on $60)


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Cask 6

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Dried tarragon! Interesting that on this pass of the North of 7 whiskies there are more dried herbs coming out.  Oak, milk chocolate, vanilla, pineapple juice, caramel, macadamia, dried mint, freshly sawn pine, hazlenuts, fennel seed, toffee, and lemon. There’s corn, too....it might sound a bit diverse but it’s integrated together well. A nice nose! Perhaps the best I’ve had yet from the distillery. There is one note which I don’t quite know what to do with – a slightly sour, almost yoghurt like quality. It’s quite savoury, and I can’t tell if I like or dislike it.

The palate is full of mixed cereal, fresh oak, and sharp spices on the herbal side like fennel. Oak is present, but isn’t at the center – it seems to contribute quite a bit of structure and tannins, though. Dried fruits too – the usual suspects – apricot, peach, pineapple. It has a light-medium creaminess. The finish is drying and tannic, with spices, dried fruit, hazlenuts, and a spicy character like the feel of cayenne.

Better than the batch above but not quite enough yet to bump it another point. Its youth still shows through, and as this mellows out more I imagine it’s not far off an upgrade...

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average (based on $60)


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Cask 8DB

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

This one’s quite a bit different – it’s the four grain recipe but it’s been matured for 6 months in new oak. If the standard north of 7 is like hazlenuts or almonds, this is like decadent pecan in terms of nutty richness. Rich oak (think oaky bourbon), pine cones, celery seed, and toasted fennel seed. The usual complexity is very much so masked by oak. North of 7 makes whisky in the bourbon style, but it doesn’t taste like bourbon – the oakiness of this is approaching bourbon, but it is still quite grain (other than corn) centric.

The palate is oaky and tannic. Mixed porridge, dried apricot, rich fresh oak, light wood smoke, pencil shavings, and a bigger oaky creaminess. The oak is a bit too much here, with the tannins and a slight astringency taking it past a point of balance, but just a bit. Drying spices taking the finish, accompanying white grape, dried apricot,

The oak is the centre, here, and no sufficient counterbalance is offered – and the rich grainy character from the distillery is lost. That being said, I like the extra oak and probably a bit less time in the second barrel would have done a trick.

I actually like to mix this one with barrel 6 to tone down some of the oak. I like a ratio of 25% barrel 8 to 75% barrel 6. I find the mix better than either on its own!

Value: Low. All their other casks are better, and this is a bit much for this unless you really like oak!


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Cask 5

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

It’s coming up on 5 years of age now, and this is delicious!

Lovely dried fruits have come out, and it is very much a corn forward whisky with a balance of grain, berry notes, brown sugar, toffee, honey, and oak. The oak is beautifully integrated. It also grows quite nicely with time in the glass.

The palate is sumptuous, and this makes it very easy to drink. Again, there is a nice bright, berry-like fruitiness which contrasts with the corn and oak which grows through the palate. There is a really nice earthiness which is present through the whisky too – brilliant. It really seems to have come of age. The finish is sweet, easy, with oak, grain, a touch of toasted fennel, wet hay, and dark toffee. It has rounded out quite nicely and gained a lot of depth compared to my most recent batches.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). One of the best Canadian whiskies I’ve tried this year from a small distiller, and the best I’ve had from North of 7. . It’s perhaps a little too easy to drink…

Value: High. It’s very rare for a small distiller to break into this category, but this in my opinion is a great whisky for $60.


Review: North of 7 Rye Canadian Whisky (North of 7 Distillery) by Jason Hambrey

Photo provided by North of 7 Distillery.

Photo provided by North of 7 Distillery.

ABV
45%
Aging
3 Years; Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
100% Rye (95% Unmalted, 5% Malted)
Distiller North Of 7 (Ottawa, Ontario)

This is North of 7’s rye whisky, matured in new oak. One of the owners, Jody, was telling me that the whisky tasted terrible a few months short of three years and has drastically improved (to which I attest) as it gets to a number of months beyond three years. It is a combination of 95% unmalted rye, with 5% malted rye - matured in nice casks sourced from Independent Stave Company in Kentucky/Missouri.

All the grain, notably, is from Against the Grain farms, a neat local farm which works extensively with heirloom varieties.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 1 (Barrel 10)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

This noses like a sharp rye – frankly, I’m surprised, given the age and that it's the first rye product from the distillery. Loads of sharp floral and spice notes, alongside cola, toffee, vanilla, charred wood, and grassy spice. Lilac, baking bread, fennel, mint – it is remarkable that they have managed to attain such a sharp rye character and yet such a broad grain characteristic, in the same whisky. There’s one or two off notes – but it gets better in the glass.

 The palate brings in more grain character and some milk chocolate, but still carries the sharp spices in tow. The finish is grain-driven, but also carrying fruit. Without some of the off-notes, this would creep up a bit higher.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average (based on $60)


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Barrel 18

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Sharp, woody, spicy aromas on the nose. Very appealing, particularly if you like rye. There is some really nice dried fruit here – currants, prunes – and also some red pepper jelly, white pepper, cedar, pine, and toasted multigrain bread. The woody, piney characteristic is very nice.

The palate is sharp and spicy, with a nice character which is quite reminiscent of oat. A really nice woody edge, to all of it. The grainy character in North of 7 is so central, and I quite like it. The finish is slightly dry, with more oats, sweet oak, clove, and some woody cinnamon. Nice!

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). This one has come together better than the other batches I’ve tried. It’s quite good – although I would still be interested to see it with a bit more age on it, and a higher ABV.

Value: Average, but we are nearly at the high value category here.


Review: Shelter Point Single Cask Quail's Gate Foch Reserve Finish by Jason Hambrey

Shelter+Point+Foch+Finish+2.jpg
ABV
46%
Aging
Finished in Quail's Gate Foch Reserve Wine Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Shelter Point (Vancouver Island, British Columbia)

Marechal Foch is not a common wine for the table, but they grow quite a bit of it in BC. It is originally a hybrid grape variety originating in France, but it often has a really intense characteristic. It’s grown in Loire, in France, but you see it more often in North America and there are a number of BC producers. I’ve had a few foch wines, and I often have thought that they might make good whisky casks. Well, here we are!

This was a limited single cask bottling, with only 228 bottles produced from the barrel and released in 2019.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Single Cask Release No. 2

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

At the nose – we have what is very much a shelter point single malt.  I do like what the wine casks do to the spirit. Brown sugar, blackberries, currants, black cherries – but also some dried peach, baking spice, and dried ginger. A nice dried cherry note, too. Relatively bright for a finished shelter point, with a softer fruit and oak character. It softens with time. The palate is full of fruit- almost “juicy” but also has toffee, dried ginger, brown sugar and a bit of wine tannins. Baking spice builds into the finish. Lots of spices on the palate.

It’s good both without water and with a drop or two. It softens and opens up, but loses a bit of its (nice) edge with water so it’s a tradeoff.

I can’t resist but compare to the double barreled with the pinot noir cask, which is a bit richer, darker and denser (not always a good thing). This is quite a bit lighter in colour. I find the double barreled oakier, spicier, and bigger with more of a dried fruit characteristic. This single barrel focuses more on lighter fruit – stone fruit and berries. Oddly enough, I would have thought the casks – pinot noir and foch, would have given the whiskies the opposite of the characteristics that they achieved.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). this is very nice, and a nice example of what a single barrel can do.

Value: Average. A pretty good price for a pretty good whisky, competing against all whiskies. If single malts are your thing, this is a better than average value buy in my opinion.


Review: Two Brewers Classic Yukon Single Malt Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Two Brewers, photographed by Michal Kostal.

Image courtesy of Two Brewers, photographed by Michal Kostal.

ABV
46%-58%
Aging
7-8 yrs
Recipe
100% Malted Barley - mostly pale malt
Distiller Two Brewers (Whitehorse, Yukon)

Two Brewers is an interesting distillery because they started (as in the name) in brewing, so they had expertise in that important flavor generating part of the whisky making process. Their whiskies are about 7-8 years old, very mature for a micro distillery compared to most which are releasing their product as soon it is legal to do so, after three years. They also run with four different streams of single malt - "classic", "peated", "special finishes" and "innovative" whiskies. Each release has about 800-1600 bottles per release, and they use different malted and roasted grains along with varying fermentation techniques and a mix of barrels to get the sort of flavors they want. It's about time for a taste!


Review (2016)

  • Batch: Release 01

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

A Yukon-only release. Earthy, and lightly smoky, with apple, pineapple, pepper – the earthy and smoky elements of the nose lifts off with time leaving heavy fruit and porridge behind. The palate continues on with some very interesting elements – vegetal notes, yet still holding on to tingling spice and earthy grain. Nicely done!

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 06

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

The nose is incredible. Remarkable fruity – loads of ripe yellow apple, ripe pear, pineapple, guava, custard – and yet full of underlying spicy bready notes. There’s a bit of sharp grassy spice and some unripe green pear, as well as hard banana candies. It’s quite complex and very well integrated. It doesn’t nose or taste immature at all. The palate is gorgeous – it has some vanilla but finishes with some rich, dark, roasted malt. Great underlying grain and earth, too. The finish, then, maintains all the fruit but is loaded with roasted malt notes and light spice and oak. Figs, too. Brilliant!

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High. This is just good enough to scrape into a high value category, even at $100.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: 10, 58%

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Our first cask strength two brewers!

This is what you might expect – a solid two brewers classic single malt, but with a much bigger paintbrush. Apple juice, apricot jam, tropical fruits, and all the beautiful grainy notes. It smells much like a bourbon cask – creamy, herbal, and lightly oaky. On the palate – it’s awesome. Big, creamy, with tropical fruits balanced by oaky spice, rich grain notes, and sharp spice. The finish comes out even bigger at cask strength, as might be expected. Lots of tropical fruits on the finish, too.

Not necessarily a better spirit than previous batches of the „classic” single malt, but it really gets carried through nicely at cask strength. It retains all the key notes, but adds some – the oaky spice and vanilla and caramel are front and center here, while they play a backburner at lower strengths. Well done – very well done.

As usual, the upped ABV reallly does well on the finish. I need to find a bottle of this....

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. Really good whisky, but at $130 it starts to compete against other possibilities in that range.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Release 13

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

What a nose! This is loaded with caramel and vanilla, but still offset with light stone fruit, pineapple, banana, vanilla, and oak. The palate is creamy, rich, and with a very nice kick of spicy greens (arugula, watercress) before a drying finish which remains slightly sweet and fruity. Earthiness grows on the finish, still being offset by a bright fruitiness and spice. Compared to other batches, I find this has a huge degree of caramel and toffee, and a light elegance to it.

I loved batch 10, which was really big – this is perhaps a bit broader and richer, but not bigger.

Is this the best single malt in North America? Perhaps…

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. Really good whisky, but at $100 it starts to compete against other possibilities in the $100 range.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Release 16

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Sharp, grassy notes lead the nose, which is a bit closed at first. The nose is quite spicy and herbal, but it opens up with peach, dried apricot, and over-ripe plum. There is a slightly smoky oak aspect to it, and it becomes quite buttery as it sits. As much as I like the uniqueness in all of the Two Brewers “streams” I think the classic remains my favourite. It is just so wonderfully balanced between distillate and cask. The palate starts out sweet, with stone fruit, vanilla, and butterscotch growing before a herbal finish with baking spices and light wood tannins.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $100 - really high quality stuff at a moderate price point.


Review: Two Brewers Special Finishes Yukon Single Malt Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Two Brewers, photographed by Michal Kostal.

Image courtesy of Two Brewers, photographed by Michal Kostal.

ABV
43-46%
Aging
7-8 yrs in first cask, finished for about a year in finishing cask
Recipe
100% Malted Barley - mostly pale malt
Distiller Two Brewers (Whitehorse, Yukon)

The abv above is because the first release was 46%, the second was 43%. Here we have the terrific Two Brewers single malt - but this time finished in a variety of different casks, depending on the release - they say they hope no two releases will be the same. It is worth noting that the finishing period here is longer than typical - most barrel finishes are quite short (more like an "infusion") as most of the liquid remaining in the finishing barrel is absorbed in 90 days or so. The amount of liquid soaked into a finishing barrel is significant - barrels have gallons of soaked liquid in them once they are finished maturation. Thus, most distilleries aren't doing a whole lot more in finishing than adding in another ingredient, in a way that passes as legal because it's soaked into a barrel. However, a longer finish means also that you get a bit of maturation from a second, different, barrel, which means it really is more of a finish. This year long period of finishing means we get to see some of the effect of that.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Release 02

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

Distilled in 2009 and finished in PX sherry barrels, 46% ABV.

Very green, and interesting - unripe pear, unripe banana, unripe mango, black pepper, soy sauce, and some sweet grain. The palate brings in lots of pineapple, yellow ripe apple, and a decent strength leading into orchard fruit and light smoke on the finish.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. Starts to compete with other $100 whiskies, which has quite a few of the best drams in the world.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Release 04

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

Blended and finished in a bourbon barrel. 1440 bottles, at 43%.

The nose is vibrant and fruity with exotic fruit – guava, soursop – with some mint, vanilla, dried peach, sweet potato, and malt-driven beer notes. The palate has a sweet, malty core on top, middle fruit notes with peach and apple – all with an earthy, nutty edge to it. The end of the palate and finish is very vegetal – arugula and spice, reminding me quite a bit of rye. The finish is clean, spicy, and creamy with light earthy smoke, peach, almonds, and dried papaya.

This whisky is one with great texture, movement, and complexity – I highly recommend.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. Starts to compete with other $100 whiskies, which has quite a few of the best drams in the world.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Release 09

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Finished in European PX barrels.

The nose is full of dried fruits – but more „standard” fruits for a single malt – raisins, prunes, dried apricots. Very sherry driven, with dried orange peel, sherry spices, and oxidized wine playing key parts in the nose. We also have rich grain, in the two brewers style, but it is subdued. Horseradish, too!

The palate is a bit less dominated by sherry, with a strong malty core and a classic spicy, grainy finish. It is still loaded with dried fruit – though the tropical fruits come through, too. The finish has rancio, dried fruit, and a sharp herbal characteristic – thyme and basil. And the herbal grain character comes through, too – I love it.

This is a nice whisky, but I think the cask dominates too much – the fruity, complex and tropical character of two brewers is taken over by a sherry cask which loads the experience with dried fruits, spices, and rancio – still very good, but I don’t think the best pairing for Two Brewers.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. Starts to compete with other $100 whiskies, which has quite a few of the best drams in the world.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Release 15

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

Another sherry barrel finish. The nose starts with the typical bright fruit, notably peach this time, sharp grainy aromas, cinnamon, and rich and sweet stone-fruit wine notes. It has almost a dessert-like quality to it, but, oddly enough, it fits in really well into some of the earthy notes on the nose. The palate is rich, with oak coming in but offset against the grain and herbal notes. The finish has arugula, baking spice, and sherry.

I think this is probably my favourite of the sherry finishes to date. The nose, I find, is just about perfect and has a nice delicate balance between the components.

Very Highly Recommended (19% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, as above.


Review: Hochstadter's Vatted Straight Rye Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Photo courtesy of Hochstadter’s Whiskey.

Photo courtesy of Hochstadter’s Whiskey.

ABV
50%
Aging
4-15 Yrs; Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
Various
Distiller Various

Now here is something rather interesting! This is a mixture of 4-15 year old straight rye whiskies from Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Indiana, and Alberta. It’s quite rare to see mixtures of vatted straight ryes from different distilleries - this is the only one that comes to mind. Moreover, this is another Canadian-American blend which is rare, but present in some premium examples like Little Book. I love the Hochstadter’s 16 year old, and the Lock,Stock and Barrel whiskies all from Cooper Spirits - so I have high expectations here.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

A gorgeous nose, with a lot of depth. Oak, caramel, a farmy grain character, dried fruit, a light medicinal characteristic, orange, baking spice, and dark potting soil. Amazing! It really blends together well the traditional styles of American and Canadian rye. The palate is slightly sweet, but rich and juicy with loads of spices, oak, citrus, and dried fruit. There is a really nice tannic structures on the palate, and a slight touch of acidity – making this very drinkable. The finish has some pomegranate, oak, clove, and cherry. Oak dominates at the end, with rich woody and vanilla notes.

The empty glass is glorious. Loads of spices, dried fruit, but it’s still slightly yeasty and farmy in a good way.

This is terrific! If I lived in a place where I could buy this, it would be my everyday rye.

Very Highly Recommended (19% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very high. It’s not often that you can find something this good for prices like this.


Review: Ploughman's Rye Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Ploughman%27s+Rye.jpg
ABV
43%
Aging
First fill ex-bourbon and sherry hogsheads; 3-4 years old
Recipe
100% Alberta Malted Barley
Distiller Eau Claire (Turner Valley, Alberta)

Eau Claire recently released a very nice single malt whisky - one of my favourites in Canada - so (of course) I was curious how the rye would turn out. This is horse farmed, notably - a distillery that really has done seed to glass. Neat. A limited edition.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: 01

  • Bottling Date: 2019

  • Bottling Code: N/A

Off the bat, I’m reminded how much I do really like rye, and off the bat this has nods similar to Eau Claire’s very nice single malt. Quite fruity – cherries, plums, dried cherries, dried blueberries – but also nice spice notes – fennel, clove, nutmeg, star anise – and spruce tips, fresh spinach, vanilla, oak. The palate is oaky, with loads of almond. We also have steel cut oats, toasted grain, and a really nice set of orchard fruit and stewed stone fruit. The finish is nicely spicy, with oak, mixed baking spices, toasted clove, mixed grain oatmeal, apricot crumble, cacao, and pear.

It does taste young, but this is very good as is. I’m really looking forward to future releases. I’m quite excited about what Eau Claire is doing.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average.


Review: Crown Royal Noble Collection French Oak Cask Finished Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Thanks to Crown Royal for the image.

Thanks to Crown Royal for the image.

ABV
40%
Aging
Finished for six months in Virgin French Oak Casks
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Gimli (Gimli, Manitoba)

Here is another Crown Royal finish - another crown royal which has been finished in a French oak cask - but this is no cognac or wine cask, rather, it’s a virgin French oak cask which lends a very different character. The release is once again focused on the US market and isn’t available in Canada where it is produced.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: 2019 Noble Collectoin

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

French oak, indeed! Toasted and rich oak seems to dominate the nose, but, of course, as a crown royal we have lots of layers: a nice thread of floral and vegetal rye, light creaminess, dill, and confectionary notes are present also. A lot more oak than typical for a Crown – but it isn’t a rich bourbon oak, much more like the new oak finishes which are increasingly common in Canadian and Scotch Whisky.

The palate has a nice kick of spicy oak, and grain underneath. Tannins, vanilla, butterscotch, toasted fennel, green cardamom, and clove are all in the mix. The finish is sweet, herbal, and lightly tannic – lots of baking spices, white pepper, prune, and grapefruit pith.

Very different than the wine barrel finish, which, although French oak also, is a lot softer and fruitier. The wine finish is also a bit deeper and more complex, with a fairly big wine character. I know the palate is going towards oak, but this one seems to be at the loss of some of the complexity of the spirit. It’s similar to what Wiser’s has been doing with their Pike Creek 21 YO last year, or seasoned oak.

Quite enjoyable. I’m glad that the noble collection continues to provide a diverse set of releases.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. Around $80 CAD isn’t great for this, but it’s still a decent whisky for the price when compared against the whisky category as a whole.


Review: Glynnevan Double Barreled Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Glynnevan+Double+Barreled+2.jpg
ABV
43%
Aging
Two casks
Recipe
N/A
Producer Authentic Seacoast (Guysborough, NS)

This whisky is sourced from the prairies and is partially matured at the Authentic Seacoast distillery in Guysborough, Nova Scotia.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

The nose follows suit of a traditional younger Canadian whisky that has had a decent amount of oak extraction - pine, caramel, maple, burnt wood, brown sugar, toasted wood, raisins, cinnamon, intense woodiness, maple, and butter. The taste follows suit from the nose, but I also get some white chocolate and a growing piney wood character with tannins slowly building. The finish has a burst of vanilla, fading tannins, and some bitterness.

The balance isn’t great - it’s very woody and big, but lacks subtlety and doesn’t integrate the spirit characters in with the heavy barrel flavours. I like it with a touch of water.

Value: Low to Average. At $47, it’s not a bad price against whisky as a whole – but in the Canadian category you can do better. It’s still sourced distillate, which is slim pickings generally – I’m quite interested to see what their own distillate will be like.