Last Mountain

Review: Last Mountain 100% Wheat Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
45%
Aging
~3.5 yrs; Used Bourbon Barrel
Recipe
100% Wheat
Distiller Last Mountain (Lumsden, Saskatchewan)

Last Mountain Distillery views wheat as the unsung hero of the grains, utilizing the abundant wheat in Saskatchewan to craft their whisky. They are now releasing their own wheat whisky after sourcing whisky to get them going in their terrific bottlings like Private Reserve. Now, they have their own.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Cask 13.08.01

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

Very confectionary, in the style they have developed. Icing sugar, wheat – cream of wheat, wheat flour, and it is pretty clean – light spices and creamy oak in the background, a touch of orange zest, and barrel char – even at only 3.5 years, this doesn’t taste immature! The palate is loaded with fresh oak and light spices, cream of wheat, and a strong confectionary character as well. It perhaps is a bit less complex than the sourced/blended business (this is a single cask, mind you), but it is easy to drink and presents the wheat so beautifully! Light spices and dried fruit as well – some nice bourbon influence. The finish carries on with very light spices, lemon zest, light minerality, hints of bourbon, light oak, and of course, creamy wheat. It is, in fact, the finest wheat whisky I have tasted. Though complexity isn’t massive, the core of this whisky is just immensely pure and enjoyable.

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

Value: High (based on $50)


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Cask 14.06.02

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

This whisky was aged in 10 gallon barrels for 6 months before being put in once-used bourbon barrels for 51 months. That’s almost 5 years of maturation!

The nose leads with freshly sawn lumber, wintergreen, marzipan, and oaky spices. The palate is light, oaky, and with moderate complexity. Some bourbon nods, here – with good vanilla and light corn characteristics. The whisky itself is light and rich, but this has a bit of a different characteristic than the previous single cask I had. It’s cleaner, lighter, with a bit more ex-bourbon character and not quite as much wheat coming through. The finish has some berries and a nice tannic character. This is very easy to drink.

Also this whisky won a gold medal at the Canadian whisky awards, a blind tasting which occurs over 6 weeks with over 100 entrants – less than 20% of the whiskies entered get a gold, and this includes not only micro-distilleries but all the big industry players.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). I liked the previous cask a bit more, but this is still my favourite wheat whisky.

Value: High. Very good for the price.


Review: Last Mountain Single Cask Rye Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Last Mountain Distillery

Image courtesy of Last Mountain Distillery

ABV
45%
Aging
~3.9 yrs; Once used bourbon barrel
Recipe
100% Saskatchewan Rye
Distiller Last Mountain (Lumsden, Saskatchewan)

A release from last mountain in 2018, this time a single cask bottled at 45% instead of their cask strength vatting from 2017. I love rye, and last mountain is one of my favourite distillers in Canada, so I’m always eager to try this stuff. The rye is from Deer Valley.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Cask 14-09-02 (Aged 46 months, 50 gallon ex-bourbon barrel)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

This has a nice ex-bourbon cask characteristic to it. The nose is earthy, and incredibly floral with bright characteristics like sweet white grape and elderflower. It is very unique for that! We also have The palate is lightly tannic and spicy, with more elderflower, rich oak, nutmeg, and clove - there is a nice kick of vanilla in the centre. The finish is spicy and has a nice mix of spicy and floral characteristics. Very nice!

Good oaky undertones, too.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). This is a very unique rye, and the complexity is very interesting. It straddles this category and my recommended category, but it gets the nod on the merit of uniqueness.

Value: Average, based on $43.70/375 ml.


Review: Last Mountain Canadian Single Malt Whisky by Jason Hambrey

IMG_1006.JPG
ABV
45%
Aging
~3.5 yrs; Once used bourbon barrel
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Last Mountain (Lumsden, Saskatchewan)

A release from last mountain in 2018, this time a single cask bottled at 45% instead of their cask strength vatting from 2017. The barley was sourced from BC, but in the future all grain is coming from Saskatchewan for the distillery.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Cask #14-09-02 (46 months old)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Light, and loaded with green fruits – pear, apple – and other stone fruits, peach, apricot, and yellow plums – and yet with a light oily, grassy spice. Slightly creamy, with the oak coming in at the perfect point on the palate bringing in caramel, cream, and ferrero rocher. It’s rich with oak – and has a rich, grain-derived earthiness. Quite nutty, too – very much so – like freshly ground peanut and almond butter. Mint at the end. The finish is spicy and very grainy.

The whisky feels young, yet, it doesn’t carry a lot of the harshness often found in single malts. I really like how grain-forward this is – and it almost seems as though you can taste the earth of Saskatchewan! Very unique, and I’m looking forward to how this shapes up as it continues to age. Between the rye, wheat whisky, and this single malt, Last Mountain has a diverse and well-crafted set of whiskies coming along!

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

Value: Average, based on $43.70 per 375 mls.


Review: Last Mountain Wine Cask Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
45%
Aging
3.2 yrs in used Bourbon Barrel; 6 months in wine cask
Recipe
100% Wheat
Distiller Last Mountain (Lumsden, Saskatchewan)

Here we have a different take on last mountain’s wheat whisky - a wine cask finish! A very different lens to Last Mountain’s wheat whisky (which is my favourite wheat whisky that I’ve tasted), Note that this is a pre-release sample as it will be released shortly, but the profile should remain very similar if not the same. The wine cask used was a Saury Oak barrel which had a Californian red wine in it.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

A soft, wine driven nose with loads of rich, dried fruits and spices typical of a red wine. Freshly sawn white oak, fruit gummies, black currant, cherries, rising cinnamon buns, and light toffee – but underneath, light sweet wheat and some clean oak. A bit of water to take it slightly below 45% reveals a lot of complexity but the oak is less dominant, which may or may not be preferential depending on taste – I like it with a drop of water. The palate is very interesting – very much driven by the cask – and very good – reminding me of many lighter port-finished whiskies. There is a really nice oiliness and the spices really bloom, but there is also a rich toffee middle to the whisky which bridges all the fruit from the wine to the oak, which creates a very nice contrast in flavour. The finish is lightly sweet and very fruity, with tannic red wine, dried apricot, blackberries, and freshly ground white pepper.

This is much more cask-dominant than the other stuff I’ve had from last mountain – but it’s still very good, and a very different lens to their wheat whisky. I’m glad, that, despite the big wine influence, it has gone towards the richer, deeper side of wine. I do think it squashes a bit of the complexity of the underlying wheat whisky, which is fairly light, since the cask character is so heavy. However, it’s still very good, and very clean and complex for a whisky this young.

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

Value: Average, based on $43.70/375 mls.


Review: Rocking R 100% Rye Whisky (Rig Hand Distillery) by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy and copyright of Rig Hand distillery.

Image courtesy and copyright of Rig Hand distillery.

ABV
40%
Aging
3 years; ex-wheat whisky, ex-bourbon, and ex-sherry barrels
Recipe
100% Alberta Rye
Distiller Rig Hand (Nisku, AB)

Rig Hand’s first rye has come online! The whisky has the same maturation process as their single malt: 8 months in 10-gallon ex-wheat whisky barrels, 9-months in 25 gallon used bourbon barrels from Ohio, 18 months in ex-bourbon barrels from Kentucky, and finished in 55-gallon used sherry casks. There are many more barrels stashed away, and the distillery is planning to increase the age of the product with time.

They also have some bourbon-style whisky on the way.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

The nose has a nice set of floral notes, with a rich spiciness – which I quite like. Lilacs, clove, hibiscus, light oak, rose hip, and vanilla are involved. The palate is soft, full of fruit - dried and fresh, baking spice and a touch of dusty minerality as well. There are also quite nice pepper notes in this whisky. The finish is light, with light spice and floral notes, and a bit of white pepper. The tannins rise slightly at the finish.

This shows great promise, and has a very clean and refined sense of big rye. It’s one of the cleaner ryes I’ve had from a small distillery (at least of the ones which have big rye flavor). I’d love to see this with a few more years on it and at a bit higher ABV, but this is doing quite well as it is!

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

Value: Against the overall whisky market, this is in the average value camp, at $89.


Review: Diamond S Single Malt Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy and copyright of Rig Hand Distillery.

Image courtesy and copyright of Rig Hand Distillery.

ABV
45%
Aging
3 yrs; ex-wheat whisky, ex-bourbon, and ex-sherry barrels
Recipe
100% Single Malt
Distiller Rig Hand (Nisku, AB)

Rig Hand’s first single malt came of age in December of 2018, and was released to the market. The whisky is made with Rahr Malting’s 2-row malted barley, and starts in a 10-gallon ex-wheat whisky barrel for 8 months, followed by 9 months in a 25 gallon ex-bourbon barrels from Ohio, followed by 18 months in 53 gallon ex-bourbon barrels from Kentucky and finished in 55 gallon sherry casks. This is the first batch, but Rig Hand is sitting on the rest of their barrels for a longer period to encourage further maturation. Particularly with single malts, time greatly improves the product - so I would expect the product to improve in the coming years.

Also, rig hand has put away some single malt smoked with Alberta peat (!!!).


Review (2019)

  • Batch: 001

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Fruity, buttery, and spicy – with a nice nutty characteristic to it and some oak and vanilla. There is toffee, mixed grain, green pear, baking bread, biscuit, caramel, and macadamia nuts. It’s spicy on the nose, too. It’s still a bit rough, but it has a really nice rich farm characteristic to it – in a very good way – like the great earthy smell of rich earth and agriculture.  The palate has lots of dried fruit a really nice malty kick at the end. The finish is slightly sour and spicy. The finish is big and farmy, with a nice malt characteristic at the end!

I really like the rich earthiness, and it has a great core which will improve with time it the cask. Also, it’s a spirit that will get better as it sits in the bottle, I expect.

Value: Low, based on $115. In large part, young micro-distilled single malts can’t compete on a price level with the whisky market at large dollar for dollar.


Review: Last Mountain Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
3-5 yrs
Recipe
N/A
Producer Last Mountain (Lumsden, Saskatchewan)

This is a wheat whisky which is aged 3-5 years in ex-bourbon barrels before being recasked to age for a longer period of time. Though this whisky is in production, along with their Private Reserve, there is hope for more wheat and rye whisky to be released as stocks mature.


Review (2015; Blind)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2015

  • Bottling Code: N/A

Light, fruity, and floral: clean grape, dry rye, cookie dough, and some rich oaky vanilla. With everything else lightly integrated into the whisky, there is a surprising set of tannins in the mix here which add to the whisky quite well. There is quite a nice confectionary sweetness and character (which really comes to its own in their “private reserve”). Really great stuff coming out of this distillery.

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

Value: Average, at $33.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

  • Bottling Code: N/A

Dry, spicy, and slightly sweet with palm sugar, green wood, nutmeg, clove, green wood, and light oak. The palate is slightly sweet, continuing with lots of spices in a fairly traditional Canadian style with some terrific wax. Corn and oak carry the finish nicely.  Overall, it’s slightly confectionary, and, though not the most complex of whiskies – this is very easy.

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

Value: Average, at $33.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Coconut macaroons, juniper, coconut, icing sugar, sweet wheat, and a rich grain character that only comes out towards the end of the palate. A light vegetal characteristic is present underneath which provides a very complex experience. Easy to drink, and delicious.

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

Value: Average, at $33.


Review: Granny's Gin (Last Mountain) by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Last Mountain distillery.

Image courtesy of Last Mountain distillery.

ABV
40%
Aging
None
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Last Mountain (Lumsden, Saskatchewan)

I quite like Last Mountain's products - their whiskies and their other products (like their dill pickle vodka) are made very well. As I do like my gin, I thought I'd see how it stacked up - it is a juniper heavy gin with 4 other botanicals including cardamom and pepper, made to be in a classic dry style. It is made in honor of Colin Schmidt's grandmother, who likes gin "not too florally". She likes her gin and sodas (I do too! 3 soda:1 gin with a citrus twist is my preference).


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2018

I am actually quite a fan of juniper focused gin, as we are here – but also with some nice coriander and dried citrus peel. It is a really nice, rich nose. The palate starts with juniper, and ends with citrus – dried orange and grapefuit peel.  There is a terrific lemon edge to the whole thing, and the finish is light and has a nice spicy edge to it, alongside citrus and pine. The base to the gin is light, and not too heavy – which I like. Fairly light finish, but slightly drying and very pleasing.

It’s more in the style of a traditional dry gin, but I tend to quite like those styles.

Assessment: Recommended.


Review: Last Mountain Dill Pickle Vodka by Jason Hambrey

Photo courtesy of  Last Mountain Distillery .

Photo courtesy of Last Mountain Distillery.

ABV
40%
Aging
None
Recipe
Last Mounta Vodka infused with Cucumbers, Dill, and Jalapeno
Distiller Last Mountain (Lumsden, Saskatchewan)

Every distiller these days is infusing this and that into various cocktails – and one of the most unique is Last Mountain, which adds dill, cucumbers, and jalapenos to their vodka. They could have infused pickles, but they didn't want to make a briny spirit. An odd combination (indeed) – and if you taste it straight, it is just what you might expect – alcoholic, spicy dill pickle. However, context is needed – it is purpose build essentially for a single cocktail, the Caesar cocktail – developed in Calgary and still primarily consumed in Canada. It was invented in 1969 by Walter Chell to celebrate the opening of a new Italian restaurant, made by combining tomato and clam juice with vodka.

It is an incredible cocktail, often so crammed with garnishes that you have to dig out the actual cocktail! This is no coincidence – the cocktail pairs so well with so many different garnishes (a spicy rim, celery, olives, pickles, black pepper, lime). It is a garnish party. I like full flavored, spicy caesars: I use 3 oz clamato, 1.5 oz dill pickle vodka, 3 dashes worchestershire sauce, 10 dashes Frank’s red hot (I love spicy!) – over lots of ice, with a rim of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. I garnish with freshly ground black pepper, a celery stalk (trim to size and let sit in water for 20 mins to crisp up beforehand). I garnish with as many of the following as I have on hand: dill pickles, olives, lime, dill. Celery is a must, and is one of the absolute best cocktail/garnish pairings. It’s great – almost more of a cocktail meal than a cocktail. It’s perfect for weekend late mornings. It is different – vegetal and savory rather than the typical fruity and citrusy or spicy and earthy cocktails. The clam adds some lovely seaside mineral notes, too.

But, now to Last Mountain – in Saskatchewan a lot of people will add dill pickle juice to their caesars, and Last Mountain decided to circumvent this step. I’d heard of this dill pickle vodka (the best selling saskatchewan made spirit), and I resisted writing about it until I have actually tried it – now I have, and must recommend it.

It adds further depth to the cocktail with a bit of added spice from the jalapeno and the dill and cucumber, but here is my favorite part: I find it shifts the balance of the cocktail such that you can add more hot sauce. Moreover, the jalapeno comes through and adds to the spice. I absolutely love spicy caeasars, so if I can make it more spicy, I’m all for it. If you can get it, start working on your caesars...

Review: Rig Hand Bar M Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Picture courtesy of Rig Hand Distillery.

Picture courtesy of Rig Hand Distillery.

ABV
45%
Aging
~4 yrs
Recipe
Wheat, Barley, and Rye
Distiller Rig Hand (Nisku, AB) and Last Mountain (Lumsden, SK)

This is Alberta's first micro-distillery whisky (released in November 2017), made with a collaboration between Last Mountain and Rig Hand distillery - a blend of Last Mountain's 100% Wheat Whisky (who produce the best wheat whisky I've tasted...) and Rig Hand’s 10% Rye, 40% Wheat, and 50% Barley mashbill. The Rig Hand component has seen a variety of casks: 10 gallon used wheat whisky barrels from Last Mountain, 25 gallon used bourbon barrels from Stillwrights, Ohio, 53 gallon used bourbon barrels from Heaven Hill, Kentucky and 60 gallon used French sherry casks.

Rig Hand hopes to collaborate more with Last Mountain to produce similar releases in the future and maintain the flavor profile. Rig Hand has other whiskies to be released when mature  - a 100% rye, a bourbon style corn whisky, and a single malt.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Grainy notes, light clove, roasted green peppers, coconut, orange peel, and grape lead into a palate which lends soft molasses, cream of wheat, light icing sugar, and that classic, dusty Canadian rye backbone of light spices. Lots of peppery spice notes on the nose. There is a light oiliness which is terrific, and a rising set of waxiness and woody spices towards the finish. The finish has some green pear, clove, and cinnamon with brown sugar making an appearance too once much has faded.

This isn’t a raw whisky – I say this only because often tasting something from a craft distillery means it is too young – this is not so, it is ready. It’s light, it’s fairly easy, and it is a whisky that leaves you wanting more. There isn’t much wrong with it – it’s balanced and interesting – but not overly complex. A good inaugural release - we’ll have to see what is next for Rig Hand!

Value: Low, for now - but almost up to average. I imagine with time we’ll see more. But, also - try their Brum!