Review: Hiram Walker Special Old Rye Canadian Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: 040814A2135634

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Nose: It’s bold. Rye dominates, with flavours of light rye bread and lots of spice – clear cut cinnamon and a bit of clove. There’s a touch of fruitiness – apples and a touch of orange which seems to lend itself to some slight acidity. There’s some toasted oak as well, andI also get some hints of cola and toffee as well. The nose develops, and opens up, and sure enough bourbon and oak notes start to appear. A slight sour bitterness comes in too, which is interesting, but not really an element which I think helps with the nose. The spices are wonderful, I have to say, and it is a brilliant development as it sits.

Taste: This one goes down easy! It’s quite a fascinating mix – it’s a bit sour, with lots of spices but not much heat in the mouth, and then some nice oak and brilliant spices to finish off the taste. It has very nice balance and a perfect amount of sweetness for easy sipping. There’s also some dry and grassy rye in there, carried by some caramel. It has some rye bread notes as well, but light rye rather than dark rye. There’s some great oaky vanilla as well, with some bourbon notes, and I notice them more as I sip more.

Finish: Slightly drying finish, with some caramel, a touch of slightly bitter oak (but not too much), a touch of apple, some dark chocolate, some light rye, and then waves and waves of cinnamon and pepper. The tannins pucker up the mouth a bit, which is something I always enjoy in a finish. The cinnamon and spice are brilliant, and the finish is quite long.

I really like the way the spice is incorporated and its bold character. And the price...It’s sad, but perhaps true, that this whisky might be more well known if it were better packaged and cost more.

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

Value: High for $26.

Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

I always enjoy coming back to this one.

Buttery, nutty, candied – lots of chewy toffee, caramel, oak, malt loaf, raisins, with an oily and buttery base. The palate is full of flavor, with lots of bread and spicecake notes. The finish has toffee, with big and drying spice notes.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). It’s one of those classically Canadian styles that has continued on….

Value: High for $26.