Review: Two Brewers Innovative Yukon Single Malt / by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Two Brewers, photographed by Michal Kostal.

Image courtesy of Two Brewers, photographed by Michal Kostal.

ABV
43%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Two Brewers (Whitehorse, Yukon)

Two Brewers has an innovative line, alongside their classic, special finishes, and peated lines – in this line of products, they bring their brewing expertise to the table to generate unique expressions through the use of special brewing techniques during fermentation.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Release 5 (Sour Mash Single Malt)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

This batch is the first in the innovative line, and it is brewed using a sour mash – where the spent mash (the remains of a previously fermented mash) is poured back into the fermenters of the next batch to increase the acidity in fermentation – originally done to help the yeast do their job better and sometimes to create sour taste profiles in beer. You see this everywhere with Kentucky bourbon, but rarely with single malts (at least I haven’t heard of any doing this) – so this is indeed unique.

Vibrant fruit, and very reminiscent of the Two Brewers style. Interesting, though, with cinnamon coming in amidst the over-ripe banana, pineapple, guava, orange, and raspberry (yes, this is fruity!). Sweet roasted red pepper, dill, acacia honey, and even a light mineral backbone. The palate is surprisingly malty, but also with some spicy vegetal notes – dill, water cress, and arugula. Creamy porridge, too, with lots of cereal notes – which also I find all over the nose after I’ve taken a sip. Lightly sweet, but nicely balanced. The finish is lightly spicy, oaky, and still carrying sweet fruit notes. Another winner from Yukon!

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 (2018)

  • Batch: 08 (Hopped)

  • Bottling Code: L1 50781D 17/11/2017

  • Bottling Date: 2017

I’ve been eager to try this one. It’s from the Yukon distillery, but this time they used hops in their mash and distilled the hopped distiller’s beer. I asked Bob what hops he used, and he said "I think cascade – but it was so long ago that I don’t remember!”. Pretty rare to hear a micro distilery say that!

At first, you get all the broad and rich Two Brewers fruit notes – mango, apple, pear, banana – but this has some unique and lovely notes to it. Pine, cedar, vanilla, baking bread, rich barley, anise, a slight marshmallow character, with more pear and a bourbon-like dried fruit character arising with time. The palate starts sweet, but, as usual, there comes a great Two Brewers roasted grain character alongside a saccharin sweetness. It has a great edge to it, between the sharpness of the grain and the light piney bitterness of the hops. There’s also a bit of szechuan peppercorn, here, too.

The palate comes through with great grain, and on the end there’s a very nice bitter touch from the hops. The finish is quite reminiscent of when you drink beer and whisky together, the hop notes staying in the background but full of the fruity character of the whisky. Lots of rich grain notes, a bit like a rich stout. I like the bitterness and it has a pleasant drying sensation.

In some ways I like it more, but it is not quite as bright as some other releases. The hops work well - it is the best hopped whisky I’ve tasted, and it is unique.

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 11 (Munich Malt)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

This is a Two Brewers, but made with Munich Malt, a malt known for bringing in a rich grain characteristic to beer.

The nose is rich, very much Two Brewers but with a richer and deeper grain characteristic. We have honey, rich mixed grain, light woody spice, and lots of fruit: peaches, plums, and mixed tropical fruits. The grain blossoms on the palate right through to the finish, which is still grainy, lightly sour, and herbal. The tropical fruits remain, and we get a typical hit of arugula in the middle. – but the fruit continues, and we get a nice hit of milk chocolate towards the end. Terrific! The finish is lightly sour, lightly herbal, with oaky vanilla and baking spice with touches of tannin. Quite different than the sharp and piney spiciness in the last innovative release, the hopped single malt. This is really good, the best of their innovative line so far, from a taste perspective.

I just love the stuff Two Brewers is putting out – this is perhaps my favourite of their categories because of the uniqueness each batch brings.

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 14 (Roasted Malts)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

Dragonfruit, caramel, custard, fresh baking bread – a really nice set of baking spice aromas. Two Brewers really does such a nice job with all their whiskies- the bright fruit so uniquely woven into the rich grain character. The roasted malts here assert their presence more than they did with the munich malt or other releases, and there is a really nice elegance to this whisky especially as it sits out. The palate has roasted grain at the centre, with a very pleasing, almost gritty grain character at the end which is fantastic. Fruit, oak, and dessert notes are present throughout the palate, well balanced and full of intrigue. The finish is grainy, and lightly fruity. Not as much is going on the finish as on the palate, but it’s still very pleasant. The 46% pays off, especially on the finish.

The grain character here is slightly bigger than the other Two Brewers releases, where grain still plays a significant role. Very nice.

Very Highly Recommended (19% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $100. This is about what you should expect from a whisky (or Scotch) which you pay $100, and this is better than most Scotch whiskies that cost $100.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Release 17 (Oct. 2019)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

This is still a full “malt” whisky, but there is about 7% rye in the mix. As Alan, the distiller (and brewer), puts it – “the rye comes through in distilling quite similar to its effects in beer, giving a bright spiciness with grainy texture”. Not only is there rye in the mash, this was also matured in American rye whisky barrels. Two Brewers quite likes the profile of the rye barrels, so they’ll be doing more of them in the future.

The nose has rich, fruity characteristics, big grain, and big spice. Vibrant is a good descriptor, but it’s more subdued and not as bright or fruity as usual. There is also apricot, dried fruit, baking spice, vanilla, white pepper, light rye bread, and light citrus – very spicy in fact. A touch creamier and more bourbon-y than typical Two Brewers – but the grain notes are indeed a bit different – there is a light touch of a floral character and more spice than usual.

The palate is excellent. Very much in the two brewers wheelhouse – grainy, sweet, rich, and slightly earthy and vegetal. But the end of the palate doesn’t have the characteristic green grain, spicy finish – it presents something quite different, but it’s very similar – more arugula, but less of the sharp grain character. The finish also presents dried fruit, bright maltiness, baking spice, and light tannins.

They continue to hit it out of the park…a really, really enjoyable and interesting whisky.

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

Value: Average. If you regularly buy whiskies (including Scotches) in the $100 range, you won’t be disappointed with this one.


Review (2020)

  • Batch: Release 20

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2020

This whisky has been finished in a maple syrup cask! We’ve seen a few of these in Canada - interesting but generally without a lot of success often due to the challenge of balancing the sweetness and spirit that is too young. However, after one nose of this - you’ll know it’s not the case here. Of course, one would (correctly) assume that this is going to give more of a sweet single malt compared to the usual Two Brewers offerings.

The nose is classic – vibrant tropical fruit and grassy, grainy notes – but this time as well some green apple which I don’t usually notice in Two Brewers. The maple is present too – just as you would expect it to be. The taste is big, grainy, with a good dose of fresh fruit, pineapple, green apple, cinnamon, and a vibrant finish that is sweet and full of maple, fruit, and sweet oak. This has the right amount of sweetness to be a perfect digestif - for me, at least.

A very nice twist on Two Brewers, the best thing to come from a maple syrup cask yet I think.

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

Value: Average at $100.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: Release 22

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2020

Now there is lots going on here - they did an early release (batch 5) which used a sour mash but this one goes bananas: the whisky was made from 4 separate mashes - two soured like beer is (with lactobacillus) and one with the pH adjusted. The fourth mash was a regular (non-soured) one. The three mashes made up about 90% of the blend.

The whisky was aged in second use barrels to keep the oak character subtle, but then the whisky was married in fresh American rye barrels.

Quite a sweet nose – full of fruit candies, almond, sweet oak, coconut, clove, apples, pineapple, walnut, and milk chocolate. The palate is rich, full of fruit and with the classic herbal, grainy notes popping through as they do so well in the two brewers whiskies. This has a really nice rich umami-like character that I haven’t noticed in other two brewers products, and yet this is somehow all balanced with a touch of passion fruit. The finish is sweet, fruity, spicy, and oaky with a slight sour tang which seems to accentuate everything.

A really nice two brewers. They are always nice, but this one really does the trick. I’m glad they released it at 51% - it’s a bit sweeter, so the extra heat is nice. It isn’t as vibrant as some two brewers, but it more depth than most, which is impressive.

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

Value: Average, based on $100.