Review: Stalk & Barrel Single Malt Canadian Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

Stalk & Barrel SM.jpg
Ex-bourbon casks
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Still Waters (Concord, Ontario)

This single malt was the first whisky produced out of Still Waters distillery in Concord, and each batch is released as a single cask whisky at either 46% or cask strength (usually around 62%). So far, as Still Waters is still quite young, most of their whiskies have been between 3 and 4 years old at this point. The whiskies bear that age pretty well, tasting older than that. Before this whisky, Ontario was not producing a single malt that consumers could buy.

Overall I have found, as I’ve sat more with Stalk & Barrel Single Malt and tasted more of it, that it has grown on me and I will enjoy my bottles all the way. I like the slight spiciness, with the light malt and the oily, buttery character – but overall this isn’t my favourite style of malt. It is really neat to taste from different casks and discern out the differences

Review (2014)

  • Batch: Cask 8

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2013

This cask was filled June 1, 2010 and bottled October 3, 2013 (3.3 yrs) at 46%.

Nose: The nose is definitely a bit more tamed (though it’s never that wild, I suppose) in a lower strength. This one carries some good nuttiness of roasted cashews, and the fruit is very candied – like banana laffy taffy and apple skittles. There is a slight bit of vanilla in the background – it is, perhaps, the best balanced nose of the lot. Vanilla comes out with a bit more force as it sits, and this sweetens it, but as it continues to sit I just notice more and more nuttiness. Along with the cashews previously mentioned, there is also nuttiness to it like ground raw almonds (so you know I’m not totally making this up…at Christmastime I tend to make my own marzipan, but I leave the skins on, and this smells like the mashed almonds), and pastry from pie that is getting brown. apple starburst.

Taste: Fairly sharp, and a bit sweeter than let on from the nose. It has moderate “grip”, which I would attribute to it’s acidity and slight spicy undertone (though it’s not huge). A bit of bourbon appears at the end of the palate, with some grape, but it does seem a bit “untamed” to me- and young. Wood does some wonderful work to break down some bits that seem “oily” to me in new make spirit – and I think I would like a bit more time in wood for this one. After tasting with the cask strength expressions, though, it seems a bit watery…a few tastings into this I also found an intriguing cucumber note in this, which sort of lead into the green beans on the finish, as you’ll soon read.

Finish: Some oak, with some caramel-accented malt coming through as well, and a bit of clove and some earthiness emerges out of nowhere! A bit oily, but of the kind I don’t like too much. It can seem a bit dense, too, with the spices – as if woody without specific woods coming forth. There’s also some green beans in the finish, oddly enough, in the finish, which I have found on repeated tastings.

I would actually be interested to see how this one would fare in a sherry cask. A bit less vanilla would I think less bring out the floral nature, but some more raisin and spice notes typically arising in sherry casks might compliment the nuttiness and fruit in this spirit. However, I do wish for a bit more flavour in this spirit – at times it’s a bit simple.

Value: Average, at $70.

Review (2015; Blind)

  • Batch: Cask 52

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2015

This cask was filled May 23, 2012 and bottled sometime in 2015 at 46%.

Hay, apples, vanilla and loads of marzipan with an oily, grassy-floral profile overall. On the palate, vanilla comes in to a larger degree alongside the lightest oak, clove, and nutmeg with malt and dried apricot starting to come in with a spicy rise on the finish. The whisky is quite clean and well crafted - but each of the major elements are also quite deep which does well.

Value: Average, at $70.