Review: Glen Saanich Canadian Single Malt / by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of De Vine Spirits.

Image courtesy of De Vine Spirits.

18 Months; Quarter Ex-Bourbon Casks
100% Malted Barley
Distiller De Vine Vineyards (Vancouver Island, British Columbia)

De Vine Vineyards recently put up a distillery and they started maturing single malt, with the first release making quite a splash with a Silver in the 2017 Canadian Whisky Awards and selling out quickly. Not yet a whisky, but they will be releasing 2 and then 3 year old version along with barrel finishes in time. However, they wanted to release a younger version to show the terroir and character of the whisky before the aging process adds and changes too much flavour.

This release was floor malted at the distillery by Mike Doehnel at Saanich, using local barley - the talk of malting on the web site is much more than just cheap talk. The bourbon barrels are sourced from Washington state.

Review (2016)

  • Batch: 2016

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

Pleasing and complex on the nose with lots of hay, apples, cherry pits, menthol, apricot crisp, cherry pits, and baking spices. The palate is sharp initially with the grain and fresh peaches, before oak, smoke, pepper, and vanilla pudding take over and command the finish. The movement is wonderful! The palate is brilliant, but the nose needs a bit of work - it’s still a bit “green” and young – but very worthwhile.

Score: 85/100

Value: 74/100 (based on $70)

Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

2 years old now; previous batch was 1.5 years old.

The nose is grainy, with dry spice and light apple coming through. Malty and minerally, almost like an English bitter made with that mineral-laden water. The palate is light, clean, with a growing rich malty character towards the end with rising spice and malt. Nice dried fruit with almost a bit of spice and gunpowder. The barley comes through beautifully – reminds me somewhat of Bruichladdich, no surprise given that the master distiller apprenticed there. The earthiness of the barley is brilliant.

Better than last year, but still waiting for what age will bring – a lot I expect. Rare to find such a young spirit so good.

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

Value: Average.