Review: Masterson's 12 Year Old Straight Wheat Canadian Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

12 yrs; Charred Virgin Oak
100% Wheat
Distiller Alberta (Calgary, AB)

Masterson’s entered the market with an absolutely fantastic rye whisk(e)y, and has since released two other products – a straight wheat whisky and a barley whisky. All of the products are sourced out of Canada, again showing off some of the fantastic whiskies in Canada which often get lost into blends. This whisky is 12 years old, bottled at 50% ABV, and, from the looks of it, doesn’t have any added colouring. As a straight whisky, it is aged in brand new charred oak barrels. It also, I might note, is 100% wheat – not something you find in whisky very often. This whisky is a limited release and will not be a regular product. We know it is produced in Canada, and my guess would be Alberta distillery (surprisingly, not Highwood) - but that is a guess and nothing more.

Review (2014)

  • Batch: 1

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Nose: Quite a dense, woody nose. Light vanilla comes through, some light cola notes, molasses, daisies, lavender, cacao, light oaky earthiness, maple, and a bit of a spirity-chemical feel at times. With time, it opens up a bit and the vanilla comes out with more force. And with that, there is lots of wheat present too – though on some nosings there’s enough else going on that I barely noticed it at all.

Taste: Again, quite dense and woody, with a surprising amount of sweetness and gentle spice. Licorice root, cloves, maple, molasses, and dried cranberries are all in the mix. There is bitterness from the oak present, but it is controlled enough that it isn’t too much – though I imagine it wouldn’t take much more to make this less enjoyable. It fades into a buttery controlled finish full of surprising flavour. With some added water, the body seems to thicken and it has a bit more of an oily feel to it.

Finish: Creamy and buttery, with some very nice light vanilla, cacao, licorice root, wheat, maple, and caramel. It isn’t initially very oaky, but the tannins from the oak are present. After all the woodiness, I am surprised to find something so deep, creamy and controlled at the end of the whisky. It’s a bit oily, and lingers for some time, with the wheat and dry oak eventually taking complete hold of the taste.

I expected to taste a lot more wheat in this, and it is surprisingly light for 50% – I imagine it would be too bland at a lower proof. In profile, it reminds me, surprisingly, of a lot of the 100% corn whiskies coming out of Highwood like the century reserve or ninety products. Likely the best known wheat whiskey in the world is Bernheim (only 51% wheat), but it is of an entirely different profile than this. Bernheim, clearly, has influence from heavily charred oak - this, it would seem, did not have much char on the wood. Also, I find often that finishes are not the stars of the show for me – but in this case, it is.

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

Value: Low.