Review: North of 7 Rye Canadian Whisky (North of 7 Distillery) / by Jason Hambrey

North of 7 Rye 1.jpg
ABV
45%
Aging
3 Years; Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
100% Rye (95% Unmalted, 5% Malted)
Distiller North Of 7 (Ottawa, Ontario)

This is North of 7’s rye whisky, matured in new oak. One of the owners, Jody, was telling me that the whisky tasted terrible a few months short of three years and has drastically improved (to which I attest) as it gets to a number of months beyond three years. It is a combination of 95% unmalted rye, with 5% malted rye - matured in nice casks sourced from Independent Stave Company in Kentucky/Missouri.

All the grain, notably, is from Against the Grain farms, a neat local farm which works extensively with heirloom varieties.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 1 (Barrel 10)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

This noses like a sharp rye – frankly, I’m surprised, given the age and that it's the first rye product from the distillery. Loads of sharp floral and spice notes, alongside cola, toffee, vanilla, charred wood, and grassy spice. Lilac, baking bread, fennel, mint – it is remarkable that they have managed to attain such a sharp rye character and yet such a broad grain characteristic, in the same whisky. There’s one or two off notes – but it gets better in the glass.

 The palate brings in more grain character and some milk chocolate, but still carries the sharp spices in tow. The finish is grain-driven, but also carrying fruit. Without some of the off-notes, this would creep up a bit higher.

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

Value: Average (based on $60)


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Barrel 18

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Sharp, woody, spicy aromas on the nose. Very appealing, particularly if you like rye. There is some really nice dried fruit here – currants, prunes – and also some red pepper jelly, white pepper, cedar, pine, and toasted multigrain bread. The woody, piney characteristic is very nice.

The palate is sharp and spicy, with a nice character which is quite reminiscent of oat. A really nice woody edge, to all of it. The grainy character in North of 7 is so central, and I quite like it. The finish is slightly dry, with more oats, sweet oak, clove, and some woody cinnamon. Nice!

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). This one has come together better than the other batches I’ve tried. It’s quite good – although I would still be interested to see it with a bit more age on it, and a higher ABV.

Value: Average, but we are nearly at the high value category here.


Review (2020)

  • Batch: Cask 28

  • Bottling Code:  N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2020

5 years old now! It certainly has come along. I recently tasted this in an online virtual tasting. We did a word cloud – there wasn’t too much time so it didn’t get populated in too much detail, but here are your crowdsourced tasting notes:

N7 Word Cloud.png

I think the results were pretty spot on. This whisky also, I would note, evolves very well in the glass as it sits. Even after about 2 hours you have a very different whisky – the sharpness softens, the cask comes to life, and the richness of the rye and pepper is still there, but softened – very much like a big, tannic red wine. With younger whiskies, often, if it sits out it’ll improve.

On the nose - sharp wood, pepper, caramel, oak, black pepper, baking spices, and a bit of pear roll into a rich, intense palate where the sharpness of the rye intensely battles the oak for control. The finish is rich, spicy, and herbacous. Even at 5 years now, I still think this isn’t quite there – but it’s the best rye I’ve had yet from North of 7. Their whisky continues to get better.

Highly Recommended (49% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, but we are nearly at the high value category here.