Review: Harwood's Blended Canadian Whisky (1946) / by Jason Hambrey

Harwoods 1.jpg
Producer Duncan Harwood & Co. (Vancouver, BC)

This summer I had a real treat – a chance to try a Canadian whisky distilled in 1946. This, really, is another big reason why community around whisky is so central – whiskies like this one should be shared, and the generosity of friends is well appreciated. Harwood’s was bottled at 90.4 American proof, or 45.2% alcohol, by Duncan Harwood & Co. in Vancouver BC. As far as I can tell, the whisky was also made in Vancouver – though I haven't been able to confirm for sure. There is a Harwood’s blend still around, a very cheap whisky about 4 years old – certainly a far cry from this one. The brand originated from some of Canada’s earliest distillers in 1840, and I believe it originated in Montreal – but I am unsure on this account

I had no idea what to expect, sipping this. 1946 was after the repeal of prohibition where Canada’s booming whisky indudtry was starting to emerge as a world leader. At the time, Canadian whisky was viewed as high quality due to legal requirements around aging in the late 1800s. Hence, on the label here, “imported” would have been a selling feature from. However, what was added to the whisky in terms of flavouring might still be a mystery.

Review (2015)

  • Batch: Distilled 1946

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: Not sure.

Nose: Very Dry. Fairly light, with dry dirt, cucumber, peppery, and fairly light – with dominant aromas of turnip. Light vanilla. Not heavily dominated by oak or grain. A very, very, interesting nose.

Taste: Thick, somewhat woody, with a light sweet character as well. Woody and sharp, with an Italian amaro like quality to it as well with all the rootiness. Char and tobacco as well. Very different in character to what I normally have, but very good.

Finish: Light, and not that long – loads of spices, dirty roots, cinnamon, stale clove, and turnip.

Very surprising! The rye, in broad strokes, comes through quite nicely and the mustiness and earthiness is contrasted (well) by the floral, light rye. Very interesting, and very good.

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

Value: N/A