Review: Wild Oak Canadian Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

~3.5 yrs; Charred New Oak
51% Corn, 30% Rye, 19% Wheat & Peated Barley
Distiller 66 Gilead (Bloomfield, Ontario)

This whisky is made by 66 Gilead, a craft distiller in Prince Edward County, one of the major winemaking areas in Ontario. This whisky is made in a “bourbon-style” – it is matured in new charred oak casks, from a recipe of 51% corn.

Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2014

Nose: A load of apple and cucumber on the nose; the youth of the whisky is evident on the nose, though oak is also present. It is a bit oily with a light spicy and grassy bite – overall, though, the nose is quite light and clean. There’s a touch of light earthiness to it as well, and some baked spice cake notes too. The fruitiness is incredibly bright, with a bit of a corn backdrop – it doesn’t really remind me much of bourbon -though it does have some of those dried apricot notes- almost more like a really fruity malt matured in a bourbon cask. The cucumber, though, is very interesting – I haven’t come across much like that in whisky.

Taste: Intense fruit at first before a bit of corn hits, and the palate dies off for a while with feel but not a lot of taste before the grains come back with some white pepper. Interesting how much grain I can taste here relative to the fruit, compared to the nose which was just crammed full of fruit. It’s sweet, but it’s balanced well by the spice. There’s also a bit of oiliness and smoke which combined reminds me a bit of bacon fat.

Finish: Good development into the finish, with a fruity and grainy interplay. Some spices come through, and a touch of smoke from the charred wood. Apple is still there in bulk, as well as the cucumber, and the length is quite good, with some more earthy and woody and ashy notes emerging over time, and it’s a bit dry. It’s not full of complexity, but the feel of the finish is quite nice.

I like that it’s bottled at 47%, I think at lower strength the flavour might not be enough for me. I like the interplay of everything going on, and I don’t mind the “youthfulness” – by this I mean some of the oily-like flavours which get broken down over time in oak – but I think a bit more age would do this one well. Also just because this is “bourbon-style”  – don’t expect a stereotypical bourbon.

Score: 78/100

Value: 35/100 (based on $69)

Review (2015; Blind)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2015

A light nose consisting of cucumber, apple, pine and hay. On the palate, barrel char comes through to the slightly sour, punchy, and spicy spirit. The smoky notes from the char fit in well and ramp up the intrigue and integration of this whisky. The finish endures as the oak takes and holds the lead.

Score: 75/100

Value: 34/100 (based on $69)