Review: Barrelling Annie Canadian Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

Barreling Annie's 2.jpg
Distiller Niagara Falls Craft Distillers (Niagara Falls, Ontario)

This is an odd craft product. Many craft distilleries are producing whiskies in line with the tendencies of the moden connoisseur palate – big, rich, whiskies full of flavour and sometimes a punch in the mouth. However, when I tasted Barrelling Annie’s – my curiosity was peaked. It’s not a big, bold whisky, but rather a whisky much in line with the traditional, classic Canadian style – light, dry, spicy, and slightly sweet. It’s advertised as sweet, but I don’t find it overly so.

I called Andy, who is a partner in the brand, to pick his brain about why the whisky was constructed this way – and he gave me an uncommon message – this is explicitly not a sipping whisky. It’s made to be easy, light, and a great mixer – it’s not meant for a sipping, savoring market. Not the typical "you’ll love it however you prefer to drink it” message.

Andy, who hails from Scotland, has been in the beverage alcohol business for 20 years, much of that time working for Diageo. As he realized that the industry was moving towards authentic and local choice, he thought to venture that direction – wanting to produce quality spirits and tell the story behind the product. Rum is his pet project, given his sweet tooth, and consequently good effort is being spent on rum production at the distillery. Additionally, they’ve laid single malt with hopes for a Dalwhinnie-type single malt which they have no intentions of releasing until it’s at least 8 years old. If they do that, good on them.

Barreling Annie’s is named after a woman who went over Niagara Falls (where the distillery is based) in a barrel on her 63rd birthday! That is adventurous! Originally, the whisky has been sourced, but their own production (100% rye) is taking over now which means a very slight shift in profile – but the goals of the whisky are the same. The whisky is distilled multiple times to try to cut off a good portion of tails and heads – only capturing the heart of distillation.

Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

The nose has a slightly spicy, slightly dry characteristic – like many classic Canadian whiskies which are a bit old-school these days. Nutmeg, clove, citrus peel, corn husks, prune, grapefruit pith, and general sweetness. It’s odd (not bad) to get a profile in more of the classic Canadian style than a more modern style. Most new distilleries are going for something different (yet, I kind of like the lightly sweet, clean, dry, and spicy style...).

The palate is sweet, presenting vanilla and dried fruits and a light spicy backbone highlighting clove. The finish is light and slightly bitter (again, a good thing) with various nut skins (i.e. hazlenut), clove, and a touch more prune.

Honestly, I was surprised. I expected something a lot more sweet (if a whisky describes itself as "sweeter than most ryes” I tend to expect the worst...) and raw, but this is not so. Not overly complex or different, but this is good – and I do actually like the style, too.

Again, not made for sipping, but I grade it so in line with the rest of my scores.

Value: Average. Not expensive stuff, and (as, I suppose you could assume by an “average” rating) it sits between better and worse stuff you could buy for $30.