Review: Two Brewers Classic Yukon Single Malt Canadian Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Two Brewers, photographed by Michal Kostal.

Image courtesy of Two Brewers, photographed by Michal Kostal.

ABV
46%-58%
Aging
7-8 yrs
Recipe
100% Malted Barley - mostly pale malt
Distiller Two Brewers (Whitehorse, Yukon)

Two Brewers is an interesting distillery because they started (as in the name) in brewing, so they had expertise in that important flavor generating part of the whisky making process. Their whiskies are about 7-8 years old, very mature for a micro distillery compared to most which are releasing their product as soon it is legal to do so, after three years. They also run with four different streams of single malt - "classic", "peated", "special finishes" and "innovative" whiskies. Each release has about 800-1600 bottles per release, and they use different malted and roasted grains along with varying fermentation techniques and a mix of barrels to get the sort of flavors they want. It's about time for a taste!


Review (2016)

  • Batch: Release 01

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

A Yukon-only release. Earthy, and lightly smoky, with apple, pineapple, pepper – the earthy and smoky elements of the nose lifts off with time leaving heavy fruit and porridge behind. The palate continues on with some very interesting elements – vegetal notes, yet still holding on to tingling spice and earthy grain. Nicely done!

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

Value: Average.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 06

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

The nose is incredible. Remarkable fruity – loads of ripe yellow apple, ripe pear, pineapple, guava, custard – and yet full of underlying spicy bready notes. There’s a bit of sharp grassy spice and some unripe green pear, as well as hard banana candies. It’s quite complex and very well integrated. It doesn’t nose or taste immature at all. The palate is gorgeous – it has some vanilla but finishes with some rich, dark, roasted malt. Great underlying grain and earth, too. The finish, then, maintains all the fruit but is loaded with roasted malt notes and light spice and oak. Figs, too. Brilliant!

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High. This is just good enough to scrape into a high value category, even at $100.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: 10, 58%

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Our first cask strength two brewers!

This is what you might expect – a solid two brewers classic single malt, but with a much bigger paintbrush. Apple juice, apricot jam, tropical fruits, and all the beautiful grainy notes. It smells much like a bourbon cask – creamy, herbal, and lightly oaky. On the palate – it’s awesome. Big, creamy, with tropical fruits balanced by oaky spice, rich grain notes, and sharp spice. The finish comes out even bigger at cask strength, as might be expected. Lots of tropical fruits on the finish, too.

Not necessarily a better spirit than previous batches of the „classic” single malt, but it really gets carried through nicely at cask strength. It retains all the key notes, but adds some – the oaky spice and vanilla and caramel are front and center here, while they play a backburner at lower strengths. Well done – very well done.

As usual, the upped ABV reallly does well on the finish. I need to find a bottle of this....

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. Really good whisky, but at $130 it starts to compete against other possibilities in that range.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Release 13

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

What a nose! This is loaded with caramel and vanilla, but still offset with light stone fruit, pineapple, banana, vanilla, and oak. The palate is creamy, rich, and with a very nice kick of spicy greens (arugula, watercress) before a drying finish which remains slightly sweet and fruity. Earthiness grows on the finish, still being offset by a bright fruitiness and spice. Compared to other batches, I find this has a huge degree of caramel and toffee, and a light elegance to it.

I loved batch 10, which was really big – this is perhaps a bit broader and richer, but not bigger.

Is this the best single malt in North America? Perhaps…

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. Really good whisky, but at $100 it starts to compete against other possibilities in the $100 range.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Release 16

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Sharp, grassy notes lead the nose, which is a bit closed at first. The nose is quite spicy and herbal, but it opens up with peach, dried apricot, and over-ripe plum. There is a slightly smoky oak aspect to it, and it becomes quite buttery as it sits. As much as I like the uniqueness in all of the Two Brewers “streams” I think the classic remains my favourite. It is just so wonderfully balanced between distillate and cask. The palate starts out sweet, with stone fruit, vanilla, and butterscotch growing before a herbal finish with baking spices and light wood tannins.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $100 - really high quality stuff at a moderate price point.


Review (2020)

  • Batch: Release 21

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2020

It’s hard to believe that I’ve reviewed 21 batches of Two Brewers (or that we’re already at 21!). The nose is sweet, fruity, herbal, lightly sweet- classic. Baking spices, banana, tropical fruit, sharp grain, sweet oak, and toasted notes all find their place in a round and integrated single malt.

It isn’t as rich or dynamic as some others, and the oak takes more prevalence – but this is still absolutely fantastic single malt.

Highly Recommended (49% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average at $100


Review (2021)

  • Batch: Release 24 (58%)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2020

A 58% bottling, 11 years of age, single barrel (s?) - the oldest two brewers to date. And it’s been on quite a journey! It spent its first 5 years in an ex-bourbon cask, then 7 months in a PX sherry barrel, then more than 2 years in an independent stave company char number 2 reserve barrel, and then 3 years in a reused independent stave company char number 1. That’s a lot of work to go into this!

A very complex nose – lots of sherry, rich oak, mixed roasted nuts, almonds, prunes, baking spices, rancio (amazing here), white pepper, and some mossy oak. The sherry, combined with some of the oak, creates a balsamic or sherry vinegar type of character on the nose (flavour, not the sourness). With time, vanilla just grows and grows on the nose. The palate is lightly sweet, and full of dried fruit, rancio, and spices. It almost has a vermouth-like quality to it, in terms of the flavours that are in the whisky: maple syrup, cloves, licorice root, fennel, and lots of herbaceous and oxidized wine notes. The finish is lightly oaky, syrupy, full of raisins, cloves, maple, and white pepper. Fairly sweet throughout – no surprise, I suppose, given the PX.

I like the big rancio hit here but I still tend to favour the ex-bourbon over the sherry cask – generally. However, it’s nice to get a cask strength version out for the sherry fans.

Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: low, at the price ($130). I think this will be just up the alley of certain people, though, and it isn’t too expensive, relatively, for what it is!