Corby

Review: J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Larry Robinson Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Wiser's Alumni Larry Robinson.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
6 Years; Refill, re-charred, ex-bourbon, rum, and virgin French oak
Recipe
Blend of Corn and Rye Whiskies
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

Well this whisky is a bit nuts - 6 years old, matured in 6 casks - to commemorate Robinson’s 6 championships. I’ve never seen a whisky matured in both new oak, rum, and port casks - not to mention the others - so it is a bit unique. The corn is double distilled, with single-distilled rye.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: 2019-2020

  • Bottling Code: L19080EW1429

  • Bottling Date: 2019

Quite the mix on the nose here, clearly the result of a number of different barrels of maturation (no surprise there). Lots of dried fruit, wine notes, dark brown sugar, vanilla yoghurt, and some richer rye notes. It’s quite a busy nose, almost so much so that I nearly missed the very obvious spicy oak characteristics. The fruit notes remind me a bit of a drink that I used to drink growing up from various fruits boiled in water and then strained.

It’s interesting to me that rye seemingly plays a bigger role in this spirit, even with the 6 barrel types. I would have expected it to have less punch from the grain, in Wiser’s typical style when they use finishes. These releases really show off the diversity possible from a distillery like Wiser’s. It’s a younger and punchier use of finishes, which you don’t see often.

Rich spicy character too, but the oak is compensating for a spirit which is too young, I think. I like finish-driven whiskies less, so not as much up my alley – but lots find this style quite appealing. It reminds me of a lot of blended Scotch where there are so many different flavours batting about.

The most complex of the new set of releases, but actually my least favourite - I tend to favour grain focus over finishes, so it’s not a surprise.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). It’s toward the bottom end of the category – it’s very good and interesting, but it isn’t as integrated as I like.

Value: Average, based on $45.


Review: J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Paul Coffey Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Wiser%27s+Alumni+Paul+Coffey+1.jpg
ABV
48%
Aging
7 Years; Refill, Ex-Speyside, Ex-Bourbon, and Virgin Oak
Recipe
Blend of Corn and Rye Whiskies
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

Another whisky which incorporates a few “easter eggs” to celebrate NHL player Paul Coffey. It’s 7 yeras old as a nod to Coffey’s #7 jersey, with 48% nodding toward Coffey’s 48 goals in one season (the most ever for a defenseman).


Review (2019)

  • Batch: 2019-2020

  • Bottling Code: L19084EW0945

  • Bottling Date: 2019

A drier character, with a nice grain character at the fore. Corn husks, light oak, vanilla, pear, and light mixed nuts. Slight bitterness on the nose, in a classic Canadian fashion. There is a nice dry oaky character which I quite enjoy in some lighter whiskies. The palate carried on in a similar fashion – even at 48%, this is a relatively light bodied whisky flavour-wise. We have sweet corn, dry oak, dried apricot, vanilla, burnt-sugar caramel, brown sugar, maple, and a flourish of baking spice at the end. The ABV really helps the finish which combines nice spice, oak, and in the middle a good grain character.

It’s the most grain-centric whisky in the new batch of releases, in my opinion. I liked the first three releases better, but all 6 are so different – different even than any of the other Wiser’s bottles currently available – that personal preference may well play a big role in what people prefer.

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

Value: High. I think it’s a good buy at $45, particularly against the whisky market as a whole.


Review: J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Darryl Sittler Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Wiser%27s+Alumni+Darryl+Sittler.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
10 Years; Refill and Ex-Bourbon Casks
Recipe
Blend of Corn, Rye, and Malted Barley Whiskies
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

Another addition to the alumni series, whiskies produced to represent portions of NHL player’s games. The players themselves go to the blending lab at Hiram Walker, the home of Wiser’s, to take part in understanding the full blending process. The whisky is aged 10 years to celebrate Sittler’s famous 10 point night. Even the blend proportions tie back to that 6-goal and 4-assist game with 6 parts rye to 4 parts wheat. Wiser’s has been loading up consumers (Ontario at the least) with a lot of different releases, and they all have a different profile - I am quite impressed (and not surprised) at the diversity.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Alumni Series 2019-2020

  • Bottling Code: L19081EW1106

  • Bottling Date: 2019

The nose is nicely balanced between lighter floral notes and some underlying grain of light to medium richness. There is dried fruit and lots of subtlety, especially with some water added. Prunes, dried apricot, orange peel, almond, orange peel, and dried bay leaves. The palate shows the corn at the centre, but has other grain notes – nuttiness, earthiness, and a grassy character. There is also dried apple, brown sugar, light bitterness, The finish is dry and spicy, with cacao, baking spices, tannins, and vanilla.

I like the information they present on the bottles - grains, age, and barrels. It’s nice as a consumer to know a bit of what you are buying, especially in Canada where there isn’t as much transparency.

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

Value: Average, based on $45


Review: J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Guy Lafleur 100% Corn Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Guy Lafleur.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
10 Years; Refill Casks, Ex-Rum, and First-Fill Ex-Bourbon Casks
Recipe
100% Corn
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

An 10 year old 100% corn whisky, double distilled in a column still - but finished (smartly) in a few casks - first fill ex-bourbon, rum casks, and ex-speyside malt casks. I say “smartly” since it adds quite a depth to some corn whisky. I might add, it’s very easy to drink!

Exclusive to Quebec.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Alumni Series

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

A complex nose for a light corn whisky – musty rum, orchard fruits, dried peaches, corn husks, maple – still very light. And very much a corn whisky on the nose – quite nice. The bourbon notes seem to grow with time – a fascinating interplay of finishes. Easy to drink! It’s actually incredibly moreish. The palate is nicely textured, with dry spices, sweet oak, and light corn nuances – like dried kernels. The rum comes out more in the finish, with light spices and a bit of saccharin. It’s somewhat in the style of typical Canadian whiskies, but it isn’t as spicy as some (to be expected, given that there is no rye in here!).

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

Value: High. In the world of whisky, this is on the high end of what you can get for $45.


Review: J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Lanny McDonald Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Lanny McDonald.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
9 Years; Refill, First-Fill Ex-Bourbon, Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
Blend of Corn, Rye, and Barley Whiskies
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

This whisky is a blend of column distilled rye (matured in first fill ex-bourbon casks), double distilled corn whisky (matured in refill casks), and pot distilled wheat (matured in new oak). It’s blended around the wheat grain, to honour the prairies where Lanny McDonald comes from.

Exclusive to Alberta.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Alumni Series

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Very nutty, and spicy – yet still we have nice dried and candied fruit. Loads of spices – hazelnut skins, old baking spices, and nutmeg. The wheat comes through with time, growing slightly with time. It has a very nice light floral note to it, also – lilac – our good old rye comes in. The palate is nicely rich with grain notes, and there is a light cream of wheat characteristic in the middle. I wouldn’t say that it is “wheat forward” but the wheat is definitely integrated into the whisky. The finish brings in some nice dried fruit, and the column still rye with all its baking spices and floral notes comes in at the end, with light tannins and more nuttiness. Very well put together- the spiciness and nuttiness is very Canadian in style, and I like that – it’s a bit dusty, and I’ll never complain about that!

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

Value: Average. $45 isn’t much for good whisky, but there are better whiskies for the price.


Review: Wendel Clark 100% Rye Canadian Whisky (J.P. Wiser's) by Jason Hambrey

Wendel Clark 2.jpg
ABV
41.6%
Aging
11 Years; Ex-Bourbon and Charred Virgin Oak
Recipe
100% Rye (column + pot distilled)
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

An 11 year old combination of column-distilled 100% rye whisky, matured in ex-bourbon casks, and column and then pot distilled 100% rye whisky aged in virgin charred oak casks - sounds like a recipe for success! I particularly like the column distilled rye from Hiram Walker, so I’m always eager to see more of it. Bottled at 41.6% to honour the telephone code of 416, one of the two phone area codes for Toronto, where Wendel Clark comes from. A 100% rye whisky was chosen for this bottle to honour Clark’s intense playing style.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Alumni Series

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

A gorgeous nose, full of rich and deep rye notes. The ex-bourbon characteristic comes through on the nose, with apple seeds and a rich, corn-filled oakiness. Lilac, sunflower seeds, dried apricot, chocolate oranges, a light earthy molasses, banana, and sharp sweet oak all blend together brilliantly. The palate brings in rich dried fruit, spicy rye, more intense floral notes, and a rich grain character.

The lot no. 40 in comparison is oakier, more intense, and also a bit oiler/sour from its youth (in contrast, this wouldn’t be true of the cask strength lot no. 40). The differences are perhaps most notable on the finish, where an intense burst of flavour unfolds from the Lot no. 40 while the Wendell Clark is more measured. However, the biggest difference is the column still rye -  it brings in a broad grainy characteristic to the whisky which Lot no. 40 doesn’t have, while retaining all the intense rye notes – albeit in lesser quantity.

Terrific whisky for $45.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very high. Hard to find better whisky for the price.


J.P. Wiser's Alumni Series by Jason Hambrey

Alumni Series.jpg

It is remarkable to my mind (and delightful to my heart): the number of special releases that J.P. Wiser’s is releasing. They are all fantastic, and have perhaps done the best of any brand showcasing the diversity of flavour which comes from Canadian whisky production with the diverse mix of grains, stills, and aging techniques. Most big Canadian distilleries make a number of very different whiskies, from different grains and distilled and aged differently to create vastly different flavour profiles. But, we rarely get to see them. J.P. Wiser’s, however, has opened the floodgates! The brand has been very busy:

  • 2016: Lots of releases: J.P. Wiser’s Last Barrels; J.P. Wiser’s Double Still Rye; Pike Creek Rum Finish released to replace the Port Finish (a good move).

  • 2017: Even more releases: J.P. Wiser’s 15 YO; J.P. Wiser’s Dissertation; J.P. Wiser’s Union 52; J.P. Wiser’s Last Barrels; J.P. Wiser’s Canada 150; J.P. Wiser’s Double Still Rye re-branded as Triple Barrel; (sadly, we also lost J.P. Wiser’s Small Batch and the amazing Wiser’s Legacy…); Gooderham & Worts Little Trinity 17 YO; Pike Creek 21 YO Speyside finish; Lot no. 40 Cask Strength 12 YO; and J.P. Wiser’s 35 YO. (That’s a busy year!!)

  • 2018: More special releases: the Alumni series (3 whiskies); J.P. Wiser’s 2018 Commemorative Bottling; Wiser’s Seasoned Oak (awesome); Pike Creek 21 YO Three Oak; Gooderham & Worts Eleven Souls; Lot no. 40 Cask Strength 11 YO; and J.P. Wiser’s 35 YO again. They also released J.P. Wiser’s old fashioned, which is an easy route to a decent old fashioned.

That’s a busy few years - what other major whisky brand is doing anything like it?! Unquestionably, J.P. Wiser’s has jumped to the forefront of the connoisseur market for Canadian whisky. While other major brands are releasing 1-2 special bottlings a year, Wiser’s is flooding the market with multiple special releases, and - what is more - they are all selling out.

Now to the alumni series. This is something different for them: it is a partnership with the NHL almumni association (NHLAA) with some of the profits directed towards the NHLAA. All the whiskies have been selected to reflect a certain player style - J.P. Wiser’s has chosen to tell a story with a unique take on their whiskies, rather than just recycle their current brands. The first set of releases - bottles honouring Wendel Clark, Guy Lafleur, and Lanny McDonald - were based on the playing styles of each player. Wendel Clark’s whisky was chosen to be a big, 100% rye whisky to reflect the intensity of Clark’s playing style. Lafleur’s whisky is an easy corn whisky, finished in three casks, to reflect his smooth style. And Lanny McDonald’s whisky is centred around wheat whisky, reminiscent of the grain-growing-prairies where McDonald grew up.

On another note, whisky brands partnering with other companies or charities hoping to do good is worth championing. We’ve seen it before with Parker’s Heritage collection and even the Town Collection from Collingwood last year. It’s great to see J.P. Wiser’s doing the same.

I love the diversity Canadian whisky brings, and from a personal perspective, I’ll buy as many Wiser special releases as we get. Again, to my palate’s delight, the alumni series isn’t over - with more Wiser’s special releases coming in 2019.

Reviews are coming, of the first wave, in the upcoming days.

Review: Gooderham & Worts Eleven Souls Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Gooderham & Worts 11 Souls 2.jpg
ABV
49%
Aging
Various Casks
Recipe
Wheat, Rye, Barley & Corn, Whiskies
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

I always enjoy these - this is one of three whiskies in Corby’s limited annual releases in their Rare Range, all premium versions of the standard (and excellent) Lot no. 40, Pike Creek, and Gooderham & Worts. We have Lot no. 40 Cask Strength, focused on pot distilled rye, Pike Creek 21 Year old, focused on barrel finishing, and this - focused on blending. The setup really works. Last year we had a 17 year old wheat, rye, and corn whisky - it was unique and very good.

This whisky is named after the 11 orphans that William Gooderham adopted on his way to Canada - as a tribute, this whisky was blended from 11 spirit types. This is incredibly impressive to blend together such a wide array of flavours into something so cohesive. The blend is composed of:

  • Grains: Brasetto Rye (a very flavorful type of rye that has been in recent production at Hiram Walker), Rye, Rye Malt, Red winter wheat, Barley, Barley Malt, Corn

  • Distillation regimes: column still, double column, still, pot still

  • Woods: Ex-bourbon and new oak

It was bottled at 49% in honour of the address of the old gooderham & worts distillery, 49 Wellington.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Eleven Souls (2018 Rare Range)

  • Bottling Code: 54SL24 L18213EW131

  • Bottling Date: 2018

The nose is gorgeous. Coconut, oak, beeswax, old corn whisky, sharp baking spices, dried apricot, prunes, uncooked wild rice, semi-dried tomatoes, and light confectionary elements – evolving slowly. Light lilac too – very nice. Adding water opens it up, but it is perfect at 49%. There is a great richness – a great “middle” - to the nose. It certainly demands extra study from my nose – it draws you in beautifully. And it shows a bit of a different side each time you take a look at it.

The palate is rich, varied, and complex – from rich, oily to spicy (cinnamon and clove) to oaky to fruit (mixed dried fruit). The mouthfeel is fantastic – very viscous – and there’s a gradual development from grain notes to fruit notes to sweet, vanilla notes and finally to spice. It tells the story in a measured way, and the core is simple, but the fringes are complex. And the movement in the mouth is amazing – smooth and viscous to slightly drying and still richly mouthcoating, and then the dry-ness fades and then picks up again. Excellent.

The finish is clean and very moreish. Slightly fatty/creamy – it leaves a very pleasant coating of grain and oak on the palate. Lots of creamy grain, baking spices, stone fruit, and dried fruit.

I described more the textures and impacts of the whisky, as opposed to just tasting notes (I could do this too) – because this is the unique and special part about this whisky. It speaks to the quality of the whisky that I can do such a thing. It also has an array of flavours – grain, wood, fruit, spice, candy, floral, and some umami - but my list will make this review a bit long.

Very different than last year’s release, which was a bit narrower and with a very different set of flavours. More oak centred, more biscuit-like, fruity in more of a winey sense, and not as broad, integrated, or complex (though still a fine whisky).

My favourite of the “Rare Range” releases this year.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very high. $100 is not cheap, but this is a terrific whisky for that price!


Review: Pike Creek 21 Year Old Double Barrel Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Pike Creek 21.jpg
ABV
45%
Aging
21 Years; Finished in Various Barrels
Recipe
Double Distilled Corn Whisky & Rye Whisky
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

This is part of the very impressive “Rare Range” (previously Northern Border) collection, and, in the "Pike Creek" tradition which highlights the impact of finishing. In 2017, the release was finished in a scotch cask sourced through a chivas regal connection (both Pernod Ricard). They also sent over some lot no. 40 casks, for their finishing purposes - so if you see a "rye finish" somewhere in the chivas family/distillery set, it's a good chance it's lot no. 40.

In 2018, the whisky was finished in a variety of different oaks. About 50% of this blend was finished in French oak - both Quercas Robor and Quercas Petrea, about 25% of the blend was finished in Hungarian oak from the danube forest region (seasoned for 36 months), while the remainder was American oak. Each type of oak has a different set of characteristics, and the flavour compounds vary significantly - for example, in one sample of wood, vanillin was the highest in French oak, 20% less in American oak, and 35% less in Hungarian oak. Similar analysis can be done for other flavours - almond, smoky notes, etc. The finishing regime here highlights the breadth of oak, and, the best part is that it still isn’t too oaky.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 2017 (Finished in a Speyside Malt Cask)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

It smells old! And, indeed, it is. A rich nose, that just develops. Not really the same thing at all as it’s younger brother, the 10 year old pike creek finished in rum casks – the brand is about finishing, not about necessarily having the same profile (as when they switched from port to rum casks, but kept the brand the same). Not nearly with the same buttery, brown sugar notes of the rum finish. In fact, though they’re part of the same brand, I wouldn’t really compare them at all.

The whisky is largely double distilled corn whisky matured in reused casks...e.g., what is in Wiser’s 18 Year old, but a bit older and finished in a Speyside malt cask (take a guess... a Speyside from Pernod Ricard – Wiser’s also sent over some Lot no. 40 casks for them to use in finishing, though I haven’t seen the result of this yet). However, there’s also a bit of rye added in this time too. But, from the nose to the finish, a different whisky than the 10 year old.

The nose has rich blueberry, mushy peas, green apple, white grape, corn oil, and some old oak. Maple, toffee, candied nuts. The palate is very clean – light grain, celery seed, prune, with a finish that is slightly dry and spicy – an ever so light touch of either earthy barley or peat. Nice mouthfeel. Ever so lightly bitter on the finish – as I have found with most Pike Creeks, in fact. The finish, though, is still bright and fruity – mulberries, spices, and dried fruit (raisins, apricot). Finish isn’t very long, but is nice and grainy while it sticks around. A very nice whisky – those old age notes present in this whisky are continuing to attract me, and this blows the other pike creeks out of the park.

An interesting pour beside Wiser’s 18. Much lighter, more elegant, refined, and less spicy. But, better...Don Livermore, the master blender, said if he were to have two whiskies to sip from the Northern Border collection, he’d have Gooderham Little Trinity and Pike Creek 21. Interesting.

Terrific whisky. Fun to see Canadian whisky stepping up its game.

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

Value: Average.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: 2018 Rare Range (Finished in European Oak Casks)

  • Bottling Code: 54SL24 L18235EW1202

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Oaky, through and through – and it’s nice. But it’s not the bourbon sort of oaky, where it’s loaded with new wood. Also not the Scottish “too oaky” – it has a huge kick of oak, complex, but it still sits lightly above a fairly vibrant, aged corn whisky underneath. It’s very nice – there are nice grain notes lurking underneath, and rich spices – green cardamom, nutmeg, clove. If you like oak, but in a broad sense (i.e. not just heavily caramelized oak) you’ll love this.

The palate has dried fruits, light spice, and some jujube-like fruitiness at the centre – but oak sits overtop everything – like a freshly sawn pile of oak. Earthiness finds its way into the centre of the palate before tannins take over and we are left with light, sweet corn, spice, and white grape. Honey, too – and sweetness opposes the light oak quite nicely.

The finish has a rich, dried flurry of spice – a mixed old bag of baking spice (clove, white pepper, nutmeg, green cardamom) and a kick of dried fruit that slowly unpacks itself alongside some toasted almond.

Natural comparators are last year’s Pike Creek, or this year’s Seasoned Oak – a 19 year old whisky finished in seasoned oak. At a very basic level, this is more oaky, the seasoned oak is much more fruity and seems to have more influence from vibrant rye, and last year’s Pike Creek 21 has light barley overtones like Scotch (as one might expect) – think applesauce and green apple.

I like this a lot more than last year’s release (which was also great). Highly recommended. Also, I prefer the seasoned oak release, which is in a similar category (old finished corn whisky) but quite different.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average.


Review: Lot No. 40 Cask Strength Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Lot no. 40.jpg
ABV
55.0-58.4%
Aging
Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
100% Rye
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

Here we have a rarity - a cask strength, 100% Canadian Rye whisky, well matured and released by a major producer. The only other bottle I can think of which fits into this category (so far) is Whistlepig's Boss Hog, an independent bottling from Alberta Distillers (though I must note that there are some notable young cask strength ryes from micro distilleries like Stalk & Barrel). Basically, it is the connoisseur's dream - this juice.  Given the splendor of the standard Lot no. 40, you'd expect this to do some good work too. Originally single casks of this were handed around at whisky festivals, but now we have an annual release - beginning at a very commendable 12 years of age. The golden age of Canadian whisky is here! 4968 bottles.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: 05 05100 (55.8%)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: June 2016

This sample was generously sent to me by Mark Bylok of whisky.buzz, who also reviewed this batch of Lot no. 40 CS.

Lots of onion pickle, in fact, in this tasting. Dill, floral rye, new wood, and lots of nuts - hazlenuts, walnuts, almond, clove, floral rye, black tea, terrific caramel, cinnamon, dried rose, dried hibiscus, praline, rosehip….

Brilliant tingling spices on the palate, with lots of spice, caramel, orange, clove, blood orange, cola, walnut…immense at cask strength and lots of rye! But it comes easy with lots of nut, tea, and oak notes surrounding. Some terrific dried floral notes too. Dries off in a huge, spicy finish still with lots of nuts and more light rye notes – almost jasmine-like in their floral nature - and cinnamon, tobacco, drying reeds in the fall, arugula, nut brittle, and some orange peel. Not to mention lots of continued floral notes. Not hard to drink and balanced at cask strength.

This is amazing – but I can only imagine a batch version. As it is, you can tell it is more of a single barrel given the profile and doesn’t quite have the breadth of complexity in some lot. No 40s, but it makes up for it with emphasis and magnitude.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I review to date get this recommendation or higher). To get a cask strength rye whisky of this complexity, depth, and breadth is just awesome.

Value: N/A (not available on the market)


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 1st Edition

  • Bottling Code: 54SL24 L17200 EW13:27

  • Bottling Date: 2017

What a whisky! What a nose. This is definitely Lot no. 40, and exactly what you would expect – a lot of punch and flavor! Coincidentally, natural colour too. Rich: caramel, lilacs, loads of spices, dried fruits, apricot, brioche, lilacs, clove, nutmeg, icing sugar...it gets better with air. The palate has lilacs, loads of rye, dried apricot, patchouli, cedar, dried apricot, black tea – wow. This batched version is better than the barrels I have tasted. The finish is loaded with rye and oak, along with dried fruit (prunes, raisins, dried apricot), cumin, lemon zest, orange peel (dried), icing sugar, fresh spinach, and a touch of dill.

This batch smells older and a bit more developed than the lot no. 40 which is on shelves now, though I think I’ve had a bad batch in my last bottle – but this still smells a bit more mature than the lot no. 40s on shelves now.  If you like Lot no. 40 (at all), you should buy this. Amazing whisky.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation). One of the best whiskies I’ve ever tasted - it’s mighty, complex, and incredibly moreish. If you want to see what great cask strength Canadian whisky can be, look no further than here.

Value: Very high. $70 CAD for something like this! Take a look at the best of the cask strength American ryes, as a comparator - you won’t find something to spar with this at this price (especially one with 12 years of age!).


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Second Edition (11 Years Old; 58.4%)

  • Bottling Code: 54SL24 L18204 EW1325

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Very different than last year’s release (but still lot no. 40) - it came from a different bond, and each bond has different characteristics. It is very fruity – strawberries, cherries, plums, prunes, and green apple – but also with floral notes – lilac, spice, clove, loads of brown sugar and oak. There’s a nice caramelized nut characteristic too, verging on corn – like candied pecans or caramel popcorn. Rich, deep oak opens up as it sits. Gorgeous. The sweet nature of the oak really comes out too – it is a nice complement to the massiveness of the whisky everywhere else.

The palate is rich, oaky, fruity – tons of lilac and tons of spice. It’s what you expect from the nose – but the fresh fruit character, like strawberry jam that has just started to boil when you make it – is central and exceptional. Still, it’s tempered by loads of spice and oak. Really big, even with water added. Also, a bit less of a “grip” and movement on the palate compared with last year, even with a bit less ABV. But, still absolutely awesome.

Really nice tannins on the finish, and dries out really well. Spices slowly unfold, alongside dried fruit, green apple skins, and tannins. The more you drink, the bigger and better it gets. Lovely.

In comparison – last year’s release was more woody, richer, and heavier – and you get the full range of coconut and rich nut oils and black tea there which aren’t as big here. Think spicy/oaky /floral/fruity vs fruity/spicy/floral/oaky in terms of flavour impact. And the fruit is more vibrant – like fresh berries – vs say berry jam. This is still epic, but I liked the darker richer character last year – and it was a bit deeper.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I review to date get this recommendation or higher). This is still an outstanding bottle, but it doesn’t have the depth or integration to take it to the level that the 2017 release was. Still, outstanding - incredibly big, fascinating, rich, and deep.

Value: High. An increase in price and not quite the stunner of last year still leaves this as an excellent value buy, but increases in price could change this in the future - but it is still an excellent value buy.