Review: Lord Calvert Canadian Whisky (1970s/1980s) / by Jason Hambrey

Lord Calvert Canadian 2.jpg
3 years+
Distillers LaSalle (LaSalle, Quebec)

Lord Calvert was a brand, originally American (and now, once again, in American hands). It began as a blend of unaged American whiskies, sold by Maryland distillers – called Lord Calvert whiskey. The mighty Canadian Seagram acquired the brand in 1934 along with the distillery, immediately improving the blend by adding aged Canadian whisky to improve the flavour until aged American stocks could be built up. The brand went through various iterations, with American blends and Lord Calvert Canadian, a 100% Canadian whisky blend in 1964. The brand is owned today by Beam Suntory, but this bottle is from the Seagram’s LaSalle distillery before the brand was acquired by Beam.

Seagram’s had an interesting model for their whiskies – they let their top brands – 7 Crown, VO, Lord Calvert, etc., compete directly against one another, each with their own individual management, sales, and distributions teams. Talk about the guy at the head of it all!

Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: AE760F

  • Bottling Date: 1970s/1980s

The nose is classically Canadian, though we don’t see the style much anymore in any of the higher shelf brands. Perhaps the most famous example of a brand today in the style would be Seagram’s VO. Dusty, woody, spicy, and slightly oily and sweet. Maple, brown sugar, light corn, and some dusty, earthy aromas. Very nice oaky notes, and interesting „aged” notes like a mix of flours that has been sitting in the cupboard for a few years. Sour mixed dried fruit notes, too – mainly currants, but apricots and prunes too.

The palate is sweet, with maple and oak softly surrounding corn and nutmeg. Lightly peppery, which lends a nice edge to the whiskey along with the dried citrus peel and pith. Grassy, oaky, spices come on the finish, along with orange and grapefruit. With water, it continues to open up – even though it is a light whisky there is a good bit of flavour build in. It is ever so slightly bitter, but I like it.

I do like this style of whisky, though I’m not in the mood to drink it often – but, from time to time, I am. I like it because modern Canadian whisky is so different (in large part), especially if you are mixing. The light, dry, sweet style is a terrific base for softer cocktails – though I don’t see too many cocktail bars using them these days.

Value: N/A. It’s not awesome stuff, but it’s not terrible - regardless, the vintage stuff tastes different than the modern stuff (which is still available) and you can’t buy the vintage stuff except at auction, so there isn’t a price tag associated with it.