Concord

Review: Stalk & Barrel Single Malt Canadian Whisky (Cask Strength) by Jason Hambrey

ABV
~62%
Aging
Ex-bourbon casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Still Waters (Concord, Ontario)

This is the cask strength version of the Stalk & Barrel single malt, available from their distillery. Quite similar in profile to their regular single malt, only this is, as expected, a bit punchier at cask strength.


Review (2014)

  • Batch: Cask 1

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2013

This cask was filled December 1, 2009 (at 60.6%), into a new oak cask. On April 4, 2012 it was moved to cask 40 for finishing (first fill ex-bourbon). It was at 61.7% at this point. It was bottled April 16, 2013 (at 62.3%), producing 209 bottles. (As an aside, the still waters website has lots of cask information).

Nose: At times, unfortunately, there’s a bit of that nagging staleness with this one. I find this one has a bit more oak than the other expressions, and with that, more caramel and a bit more of a “stewed” character – the apple and pear seem to come in the form of apple or pear crumble, with notes of apricot and raspberry jam. Interestingly enough, though this one spent the least amount of time in a bourbon cask, I find the corn and bourbon notes the strongest in this one – but they still only play second fiddle. A bit of a bakery in here – banana bread, gingerbread, with a slight sour character a bit like the tartness of plum jam. And, I think, it’s a bit more earthy on the nose than the others.

Taste: I find the flavour is better at cask strength, I think – the vanilla, and creaminess come through more and it develops a bit better. On a continued tasting of this one, I noticed more bourbon and an earthy character that the others do not have. It’s quite rich, I find – which is nice, with all the dried and baked fruit notes and the nuttiness. But, there’s more corn here from the bourbon than elsewhere – and the earthiness seems to be springing out of that. Of the three, this one is the “darkest”, and heaviest, and I think I like it the most.

Finish: This one definitely has dried fruits (raisins and apricot) to a capacity none of the others do. There’s also vanilla in larger degree than I saw in either the nose or the palate, and even a bit of spearmint! And oak and apple come forth…amazing the oakiness here in a three year old whisky. The finish is much bigger in the cask strength expressions, I find, and this is the best of the lot.

Of the first three reviewed here, I think this is my favourite – though I might even say that cask 11 is more complex and cask 8 is a bit better balanced. Cask 1 is more woody, and, carries a nice earthy bourbon character to it that I really like. The fruitiness tends more towards dried rather than fresh or candied, which is also a component I like.

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

Value: Low. A bit much at $100 for this.


Review (2014)

  • Batch: Cask 11

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2013

This cask was filled November 15, 2010 and bottled June 20, 2013 (3.6 yrs) at 62.3%.

Nose: Of the three, the fruit seems the freshest here – fresh apple, fresh banana – this one also has perhaps the most creamy texture of the three (though I wouldn’t call it that creamy) – and some of those banana notes start to morph into banana pudding if you stick to it. Some of the fruit is a bit candied – but still not as much as cask 8. Beneath it all, there’s a good bit of malt – I think it’s more noticeable than cask no. 1 but not as much as cask 8. Also, I think, it’s the nuttiest of the three – roasted cashews (primarily) and almonds (secondarily) are definitely in the mix, and from time to time I find myself thinking of nutella. And, as I mentioned the creaminess earlier – there are notes of a vanilla buttery-ness to this one too (this one has the most vanilla on the nose). And, breezing in and out of this one, from time to time, is some bourbon.

Taste: Sweeter, I think, than cask 1 – and has quite a complex and slightly less character, which is also longer. There’s more maltiness here than cask 1, and there’s a slight spicy nutmeg note, and a bit of dryness and the lightest touch of bitterness. The most vanilla of any of the palates is present here, and the nuttiness is very rich. It’s a bit lighter, fruitier, with a bit more malt character than cask 1. There is a bit of a candied fruit note, as seen from time to time on the nose, and some of the tannins in the oak effect quite a bit of “texture” to this palate.

Finish: A bit of sharp apple, I think, with a good kick of spice. also a bit of an effect similar to baking soda in feel, which is a bit unfortunate. However, it’s of decent body and..sure enough, once all else fades, you realize you are left with oak.

Conclusion: I think this one is a bit more malty, with a bit less caramel than cask 1. I think it is the most complex on the nose, and the fruit is just brilliant in this..altogether I find it is a whisky I am wanting more and more of.

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

Value: Low. A bit much at $100 for this.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A, 60.2% ABV

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Complex. Banana, grassy spice, tea, oak, vanilla, marmalade, dried thyme, milk chocolate – expressive and very interesting. Creamy, spicy, fruity, grassy – what breadth, and what balance on a whisky with a beautiful, rich middle. The palate is rich, with brie, apples, oak, bean sprouts, snap peas, apple seeds – finishing with oak, tannins, spices, and more snap peas.  The herbal and brie notes are new to me – maybe I didn’t notice them, or maybe they are cask specific – but they are interesting!

These casks have been getting older, coming now up closer to 5 years than the original 3, and it's showing!

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

Value: Average, at $100.


Review: Stalk & Barrel Rye Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
~3.5 yrs; Bourbon Barrels
Recipe
100% Rye (malted & unmalted)
Distiller Still Waters (Concord, Ontario)

This is the first rye whisky to be produced by Still Waters Distillery, a micro distillery in the Toronto area. As their new make is the best I’ve had, of all new makes I’ve tasted, I’ve been anticipating this release for a long time especially because I matured my own rye from their new make. These are single cask releases, with lower proof versions coming in at 46% and cask strength versions a bit north of 60%. At this point, the barrels have been first fill ex-bourbon barrels.


Review (2014)

  • Batch: Cask 17

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

This is just about 3 years old, having been barrelled at 62.6% on Oct. 16, 2011 and bottled on Oct. 25, 2014.

Nose: It still smells a bit young (which it is!), but this is less noticeable as it sits. Some brilliant and bright honeycrisp apple comes off at first, though soon it is overtaken by everything else – first some vanilla, a buttery note, and black tea notes (which I also find in the new make), along with a bit of a buttery note. There’s also a fair bit of hay notes as well – sort of a (positive) barn like note. Then there is a surprising amount of “green” notes like pine aromas, wintergreen, and some juniper which take some time to develop. These are wonderful, I think. There is a bit of fresh banana too. Then we have some freshly baked spice cake, butterscotch pudding, and some vanilla comes through also. Interestingly, some of the oily and hay notes remind me of their single malt. On successive nosings I have noticed different dominant characteristics, which show some of the complexity here.

Taste: There’s a nice buttery feel to this one! I also quite like the balance of sweetness, dryness, and spice. The green notes from the nose carry through, with some pine character to it, along with lots of spiciness – black pepper, clove, and then some spearmint on the end. Some of the bourbon from the cask is also lurking about….very nice. The dryness is balanced just about right for my liking, and it feels light but has a brilliant rich spicy and evergreen underbody – overall it feels pretty “fresh” – like it would be a very appropriate springtime dram – spicy enough warming comfort and fresh enough that it is somewhat refreshing. Very delicious.

Finish: Peppery, spicy, and even a bit tannic. It still has some black tea notes carrying through, and the pine notes almost take on a bit of a character like hops in this. A bit of the oak comes out, sometimes even with a bourbon note or too. It’s a bit dry, too. It’s also “self-cleansing”, where the finish itself lightens up and feels light and fresh in your mouth after a while, a characteristic I love in whiskies. I wouldn’t mind a touch more flavour, but it’s quite good, and it lingers quite well.

Conclusion: I like how the spicy, grassy, character of the rye has come out, rather than drowned out in oak. Though this is good, I’d love to see what some more age would do to this. The quality of the spirit itself is great, but it seems like it could take some more development in aging very well, and it might round out the flavours a bit more. I do really like the pine/fresh green notes in this, making it somewhat of a spring whisky, perhaps. I like this more than the single malt and it’s been the best product coming out of Still Waters that I’ve tasted to date, and I can see potential for some pretty breathtaking casks of this stuff.

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

Value: Average, at $70.


Review (2015; Blind)

  • Batch: Cask 49

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2015

Young, powerful, and spicy spirit which shows through some brilliant black tea notes, oily richness, pepper, dried apricot, dried blueberries, oak, and light bourbon notes with some nice spice on the end. Well balanced, and very intriguing. One of my favorite ryes, and quite unique among those that I’ve tasted.

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

Value: Average, at $70.


Review: Stalk & Barrel Single Malt Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

This single malt was the first whisky produced out of Still Waters distillery in Concord, and each batch is released as a single cask whisky at either 46% or cask strength (usually around 62%). So far, as Still Waters is still quite young, most of their whiskies have been between 3 and 4 years old at this point. The whiskies bear that age pretty well, tasting older than that. Before this whisky, Ontario was not producing a single malt that consumers could buy.

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Review: Stalk & Barrel Special 1+11 Blend Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

This whisky is produced by Still Waters distillery, in Concord, Ontario. Still Waters distillery only started distilling whisky around 4 years ago, and, as with most distilleries when they start – cash flow is difficult at first as the whisky has to age for at least 3 years in Canada. Still Waters did something interesting – they purchased whisky, mostly 4-6 years old, from other distilleries and blended in some of their young spirit was well to produce a blended whisky. In Canada, legally, you can include up to 1/11 of either young spirit (at least 2 years old) or wine and still legally call the product Canadian whisky – according to Davin DeKergommeaux’sbook Canadian Whisky, this regulation originally sprung out of large tax breaks that the US gave to Canadian producers during a time when there was surplus American spirit due to crop failure – but this also helped Canadian producers compete with American producers, who were using neutral, unaged spirits, as significant or primary components of their blend. Consequently, Still Waters is able to include spirit at least 2 years old as part of this blend.

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