Review: Lock, Stock, & Barrel 16 Year Old Straight Rye Whiskey / by Jason Hambrey

LS&B 16.jpg
16 Years; Virgin Charred Oak
100% Unmalted Rye
Distiller Alberta (Calgary, Alberta)

This, a 3000 case release, was let loose in April 2016 - a 16 year old, 107 proof, 100% rye from the most renowned rye distiller on the planet - not something you see every day! It was double pot distilled, aged in new charred oak, and passed on to R.J. Cooper and Son (who also bring us St. Germaine elderflower liquer) who released a 13 year old 3 years ago. The press doesn't say it is from Canada but that it is“aged in cold weather” ! Ha! Terrifically presented, with a great string opener for the seal.

Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

The nose is terrifically spicy and fruity, with interesting and complex spice – brown cardamom, rancio – and lots of oak and caramel. Orange peel, toffee, dried apricot, cacao, nutmeg, clove, with a slightly medicinal character. Slightly creamy, blackberry, and with time – more grain notes – rye, oatmeal, soba noodles….just brilliant. It’s more open and a notch above the 13 year old (also terrific) with a lot more complexity immediately apparent on the nose.

The palate is, unsurprisingly, oaky and big, with tons of arugula but tempered by spice and dried fruit alongside caramel, custard, cumin, blackberry, blueberry, and dried peach. Incredible and developing finish full of vegetal and spicy notes, yet still holding onto some custard and creamy notes. The finish also has some amarula, spinach, clove, and canned peach. And we have our friend arugula. Wow. It’s a lot brighter and more fruity than it’s slightly more spice and grain-centric darker younger sibling, the 13 year old.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation). This is my favourite Canadian whisky of all time, and in my top 2 favourite whiskies I’ve ever tasted alongside Compass Box Flaming Heart.

Value: High, but only if you like big, complex ryes as much as I do - this is the best of those that I’ve tasted. It’s an expensive bottle, so it has to be in your niche to value it as highly as I do, despite the high price (about $200 CAD).