Review: Royal Canadian Small Batch Canadian Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

Producer Sazerac

This whisky is produced by Sazerac, a large drinks company who are known for innovation and own distilleries like Buffalo Trace and Barton 1792 Distillery (producers of 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Bourbon, Very Old Barton, and more). This bottling, along with Caribou Crossing Single Barrel Canadian Whisky, are produced under the supervision of Drew Mayville, the Master Blender at Sazerac. Mayville originally came from Canada, a Waterloo grad who worked at Schenley for a large number of years before moving over to Sazerac. This whisky has been crafted, along with Caribou Crossing, from a very large purchase of Canadian whisky barrels bought a few years ago .

Sazerac was one of the first companies to look to buy whisky that has been distilled and matured in Canada, and then export to the States for bottling and blending. This is a growing trend, with ultra-premium products such as Masterson’s (rye, barley, and wheat whisky), Whistlepig, and new products such as Lock, Stock, and Barrel. As the whisky boom increases, particularly the rye boom, Canada has been noticed as one of the only places with reserve rye whisky in stock, particularly older rye. Though many of the companies, like Masterson’s, which import Canadian rye, craft it toward more of an American style (with bolder flavours and more wood influence), this whisky stands a bit between the softer and subtle style of many Canadian whiskies and the big bold American ryes.

Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Nose: Light and pleasant, with vanilla, light oak influences, pleasant fruity notes of sweet plum, fresh and canned peaches, yellow apple, distinct notes of cherry juice, light bourbon aromas, red grape skins, and some very light ruby port notes as well…along with some grassiness akin to that found in irish pot still whiskey. It’s light, but subtle, and well put together.

Taste: It follows the nose, with light sweetness and fruitiness. There’s light apple, prunes – but not quite as intense as prunes – more like boiled or stewed prunes, with vanilla, very light oaky bourbon notes, light cherry, raisins, and more hints of ruby port. It is nicely balanced, light, and subtle, much like the nose…

Finish: The palate dries out a bit, and there are hints of spice, but the flavour is a bit absent other than some light sweet vanilla with some vague fruitiness – largely in the form of light apples. The body and feel of the finish (i.e. other than flavour and complexity), however, are quite decent.

Score: 82/100

Value: 68/100 (based on $40)

Review (2015; Blind)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2015

Granny smith apples in a glass - it's almost hard to get around them! Yet, it’s a bit creamy, too, giving almost a sense of an apple crisp with cream or custard. Behind, there's some oak, spice, and some candied fruit and some threads of smoke. The apples lift off after some time...with some underlying complexity which is quite nice including some spices which almost give the feel of a diluted home-made bitter (licorice, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns). On the palate, some lovely oak fits in the background with some underlying spice and dried berries. Interesting to compare with the tasting notes above- it’s the same, and in many senses these tasting notes convey the same thing in a similar way, though there are some differences – for sure.

Score: 83/100

Value: 71/100 (based on $40)