Review: Gibson's Sterling Canadian Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

Distiller Valleyfield (Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec)

Gibson’s Sterling was first crafted at a time when Gibson’s whiskies were in high demand – the 12 year old version had much more demand than supply, so Gibson’s wanted to produce something to provide customers with the product they desired without having to wait a full 12 years for new whisky to be produced. Gibson’s sterling was the result, blended from some younger whiskies than in the 12 year old versions (and some considerably older ones too) and its popularity resulted in the continuing production of this whisky.

Review (2013)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

  • Bottling Code: N/A

Nose: fruity rye! I always get a breeze of white/green gooseberries as I pour this one. The nose comes off a bit buttery and creamy with some dry rye bitterness as well which doesn’t do it any favours. There is some light vanilla in the background, along with some light oakiness, maple, and light brown sugar. There’s also a fair bit of graininess to it – there are smells reminiscent of some of the grainy vodkas. As I spend some more time with the nose the bitterness fades slightly and is replaced by a bit of sweetness and molasses. Not a great one, but ok – the bitterness is a bit too much and is out of place.

Taste: It’s light and reasonably sweet with some rye, maple, and clove amid a lemon-like citrusy backdrop along with some very gentle oak. The mouthfeel is quite nice on this one and it feels juicy with the citrus and berry notes. There is a touch of bitterness in line with the nose but it isn’t as bad on the palate as the nose. Some spices come out on the end – clove and cinnamon – but the cinnamon doesn’t quite carry the spiciness of fresh cinnamon but has more the influence of cinnamon in pumpkin bread or the like. I get a lot of rum notes and am reminded a lot of Bacardi 8 year old as I sip this one. However, it is fairly easy-going and lacks complexity. It’s also reasonably dry, which doesn’t surprise me after the nose.

Finish: The spices start off the finish before some molasses and woodiness, which is slightly sweet and is pleasant. There’s some fruity rye which carries on for a decent bit afterward. It has medium length, but I was pleasantly surprised by it.

Conclusion: Reasonably pleasant, although the bitterness and nose could be improved and the taste is a little too laid-back. A decent value whisky, and, apart from a few off-key bits, it is quite pleasant.

Value: Average for $28.

Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Coconut, maple, baking spices, black tea, jasmine, juniper, green wood and light vanilla sweetness come through on a light, easy, whisky with a thread of spice. Quite tropical. An easy sipper - it’s light, easy and structured, with enough mouthfeel, spice, and tannins to make you continue to want more.

Value: Average for $29.