Review: Twelve Barrels Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

12B (2).jpg
A mix of corn, wheat, and rye whiskies
Producer Twelve Barrels (Napanee, ON)

This whisky has an interesting story, but, moreso, perhaps, an interesting founder. Cole Miller, the founder of Twelve Barrels, has grown up with a knack and passion for beverages, secretly fermenting wine under his bed growing up, distilling some sub-par beer attempts, and blending his various productions all the way through his university years in his dorm room. He's launched his brand with this entry level whisky, hitting shelves in the LCBO and beyond come spring 2017. Investors often talk of investing in people - rather than initial products necessarily. I like this whisky, but, having met Cole, there are more exciting things to come as the company progresses. For now, this whisky is blended from sourced whisky from a few different distilleries.

The blend will be released in limited quantities (1000 bottles) come Canada Day. The new batch is different than the pre-release batch for which a number of reviews are out - such as Blair's review, Davin's review, or the Dragon's Den episode featuring the brand. I think the new stuff is better. The rye content of the whisky is high (almost 40%), and it really shines through.

Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

The nose is full of youthful, powerful straight rye – brown sugar, icing sugar, geraniums, clove, cinnamon, cedar, spinach, arugula (a touch), banana, and some roasted mixed grain, pine, candied orange peel, and the lightest touch of wheat. With time, slightly earthy notes come – like that of a creek in the woods, alongside corn husks. The palate plays so nicely off the rye – sweet, spicy, and balanced, with rye coming in at first – sharp, vegetal and floral before fading slowly to orange, pine, and light dried corn husks. Significantly more integrated and together than the first batch – more restrained, and longer lasting. The rye is brilliant at the end, and it is lightly drying- sharp spice and grain come in nicely at the end, with great vegetal and floral notes. Ever so lightly bitter on the end, and some dill. The finish develops, grows in flavor, and dries out as it builds. Brilliant!

This is an exciting addition to moderately priced whisky – one of the lighter and more rye forward Canadian blends in this price range. It is becoming one of my favorite non-premium Canadian sourced blends. Moreish, which is good.

The whisky is similar to before, which I like, but it appears to have grown up a little. It is a bit more calmed down, less hectic, and slightly less fruit forward.

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

Value: High. For $35, this is one of the better buys.