Review: Stalk & Barrel Blue Blend Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Stalk & Barrel Blue.jpg
Blend of Canadian Whiskies
Distiller Multiple (Canada)

Still Waters distillery recently released two new blends through the LCBO – a blue blend and a red blend which includes a blend of sourced whiskies and their own whiskies. I like the blends – they very much show their house style through the blends, which wasn’t seen in their original blend, 1+11. The names Blue and Red simply come from the names given to the candidate blends as they decided on their recipes. Notably, this whisky comes into the LCBO at a price of $33, meaning it is really the first micro distillery product in Canada able to come in close to $30 and compete with some of the lower priced big distillery products (which range up from $26 at the cheapest).

Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

Some nice rye notes at the centre here, with brilliant tea, clove, and supported with light stone fruit, apple, oak, charred wood, and wooden pencil shavings. Again, the palate has nice rye at the centre and is still very clean – I say this because many products coming out of micro distilleries are not. Lightly creamy too, with some good vanilla, chocolate, and apricot on the palate. A bit watery in places - it seems something like a whisky with a terrific superstar (the rye) but no supporting cast. Light jasmine on the finish, alongside mixed nuts and the brilliant grassy spices that tend to come out of Still Waters distillery.

Terrific blending by the Still Waters fellows. They still haven’t made a whisky that has failed to engage me as a whisky lover.

As an aside, I like this, and it is sweet enough at the beginning of the palate but not quite enough on the end or finish for this. My solution is to add a drop of bourbon (or a sweet rye, but you don’t want to mask the brilliant rye notes already in here!), which does the trick beautifully as long as it’s not too much. I like something between 8-15% added, i.e., about ½ - 1 tsp of bourbon per oz, depending on the bourbon. It brings out some beautiful notes in the blend, actually.

Value: Average. Par for the course at $33.

Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Bright, creamy, with lots of oak. Rich, integrated fruit too. The palate is full of very creamy oak, vanilla, dried apricot, white pepper, and lightly drying spice on the end with a touch of molasses and drying oak.

Value: Average. Par for the course at $33.

Review: Oc1 - Elements of Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

French Wine Cask
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Bruichladdich (Bruichladdich, Scotland)

Elements of Islay sources different Islay single malts and blends them together, labeling them with names similar to the source distillery without ever explicitly saying where it is from. A lot of their stuff is terrific (though expensive). Oc1 comes from Octomore, Bruichladdich's most heavily peated malt, the most heavily peated single malt in the world.

Generally, Elements selects 5-20 casks from a single distillery and bottles them all without age statements, with a desire to show the medicinal side of Islay...

Review (2016)

  • Batch: Oc1

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2015

On the nose – what is that? Milky tea? The peat isn’t immediately what comes through –  burning leaves, burnt chickpeas, vanilla, spicy grass, fresh dry hay, white raisin, dark cacao, iodine, seaweed, rockpools, seashells, marsh, raw wet dirt, almond, the sharp apple note of Fino sherry- and none of this in a detracting way…a fascinating mix of vegetal/earthy/medicinal/mineral flavours. Absolutely remarkable.

On the palate – WOW. This fully covers and massages the tongue at full strength, and isn’t spicy or too hot – but rather simply full of flavor and it sits together very well. Remarkable, very…brine, milk chocolate, ash, almond, orgeat liquer, that slight spicy note you get with fresh hay – more grassy on the palate than on the nose. The sweetness level is perfect, and how I love the earthiness in this peat. Mmm.

The finish is incredibly long, and sweetens with time. Chipotle, spicy tomato relish, minerals, light ash…dried chickpeas, burning leaves, rockpools…absolutely stunning at the full strength.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation).

Value: Low. Even for such a good whisky, you have to pay a pretty penny for this.