De Vine

Review: Glen Saanich Canadian Single Malt by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of De Vine Spirits.

Image courtesy of De Vine Spirits.

ABV
45%
Aging
18 Months; Quarter Ex-Bourbon Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller De Vine Vineyards (Vancouver Island, British Columbia)

De Vine Vineyards recently put up a distillery and they started maturing single malt, with the first release making quite a splash with a Silver in the 2017 Canadian Whisky Awards and selling out quickly. Not yet a whisky, but they will be releasing 2 and then 3 year old version along with barrel finishes in time. However, they wanted to release a younger version to show the terroir and character of the whisky before the aging process adds and changes too much flavour.

This release was floor malted at the distillery by Mike Doehnel at Saanich, using local barley - the talk of malting on the web site is much more than just cheap talk. The bourbon barrels are sourced from Washington state.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: 2016

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

Pleasing and complex on the nose with lots of hay, apples, cherry pits, menthol, apricot crisp, cherry pits, and baking spices. The palate is sharp initially with the grain and fresh peaches, before oak, smoke, pepper, and vanilla pudding take over and command the finish. The movement is wonderful! The palate is brilliant, but the nose needs a bit of work - it’s still a bit “green” and young – but very worthwhile.

Score: 85/100

Value: 74/100 (based on $70)


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

2 years old now; previous batch was 1.5 years old.

The nose is grainy, with dry spice and light apple coming through. Malty and minerally, almost like an English bitter made with that mineral-laden water. The palate is light, clean, with a growing rich malty character towards the end with rising spice and malt. Nice dried fruit with almost a bit of spice and gunpowder. The barley comes through beautifully – reminds me somewhat of Bruichladdich, no surprise given that the master distiller apprenticed there. The earthiness of the barley is brilliant.

Better than last year, but still waiting for what age will bring – a lot I expect. Rare to find such a young spirit so good.

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

Value: Average.


Review: Glen Saanich Genever by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of De Vine Spirits.

Image courtesy of De Vine Spirits.

ABV
45%
Aging
None
Recipe
Malted Barley Base
Distiller De Vine Vineyards (Vancouver Island, British Columbia)

Genever was the original spirit that predates gin, developed in Holland and consumed starting from the 16th century - flavoured malt distilled with botanicals and used to cover up poor tasting spirit and for medicinal (and recreational...) uses. This then was found by the English who started then developed it to gin. It is still widely consumed in Netherland and Belgium.

When I visited De Vine vineyards, I tasted through all of Saanich’s spirits when I visited, and this is the spirit I chose to walk away with. Nicely balanced, good feel, and interesting. The malt base underneath works its wonders. I only bought a half bottle, but I wish I had taken a full....


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Fascinating nose. Really intriguing and spicy – lots of licorice and clove, with a terrific balance between citrus, herbal, and spice notes. Dried fruit notes come in too, and this is a full bodied spirit. It reminds me, in some ways, of homemade bitters (or, I suppose, purchased) which are added to gin. Beside other gins – you start to notice all sorts of interesting notes – tomatores, sea minerality...The palate is rich, complex, and spicy with great mouthfeel. This would mix well, and makes some great classic gin cocktails, including a nice take on a negroni. Terrific, rich spices. Star anise just shines through. It’s nice too since the coriander is quite present on the nose, but it fades to all sorts of other flavors throughout the palate.

I tasted through mostly all of Saanich’s spirits when I visited, and this is the spirit I chose to walk away with. Nicely balanced, good feel, and interesting. The malt base underneath works its wonders. I only bought a half bottle, but I wish I had taken a full....

Assessment: Very Highly Recommended.


Review: Glen Saanich Ancient Grains by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of De Vine Spirits.

Image courtesy of De Vine Spirits.

ABV
45%
Aging
~12 Months; New Quarter Casks
Recipe
Organic Barley, Einkorn, Kamut, Spelt, and Emmer
Distiller De Vine Vineyards (Vancouver Island, British Columbia)

Last year De Vine Vineyards bought a farm to grow barley, and continues to develop whiskies which give homage to the impact of grain - much like Bruichladdich, where master distiller Ken Winchester apprenticed. This whisky is matured using new American oak quarter casks, and its youth allows the character of the distillate to come in without too much interferance from the cask.  There is malted barley in the mix, but otherwise the whisky is based on a combination of eirloom wheat- including einkorn (a wild wheat), kamut (khorasan wheat), spelt (dinkel wheat), and emmer (farro/hulled wheat). The grains are mostly from the northern Okanagan area.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 2017

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

A rich nose laden with grain notes – lightly confectionary (icing sugar), toffee, red river cereal, granola, honey, vanilla, and baking macadamia cookies. This is doing exactly what I like from micro-producers – a unique whisky with a focus on terrific grain notes (and not a rough whisky, either!). The palate carries on all the honey and grain notes, with light pear, atop a rich, yet still light, toffee base.  The finish is a bit malty (like an English Bitter), with some maple and nougat. It’s nice at 45%, but I like to soften it with a touch of water – it really brings out all the notes.

You wouldn’t think this is so young, as with the other Glen Saanich spirits.

One of the few grain spirits under 3 years old that I would want to call a whisky...

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

Value: High. $80 is really not bad for this!