Last Mountain

Review: Rig Hand Brum Single Cask by Jason Hambrey

Brum SB 2.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
2 years; 30 L cask
Recipe
100% Sugar Beet Molasses
Distiller Rig Hand (Nisku, AB)

I really like Rig Hand’s brum - one of the my favourite Canadian-made spirits. It is made from sugar beet molasses, which is very different from sugarcane molasses - it is earthier, more tannic, and it has more unfermentable components.

This single cask was aged for 2 years in a 10 gallon barrel. It was a "(legitimate) case of being forgotten in the back corner of the warehouse. When it was discovered, the distillery was surprised that the spirit wasn’t over-oaked as is typical when aging in small barrels for periods longer than a few months. In this case, luckily, it was a third-use barrel so it was less active.

They liked the taste so much, in fact, that they are starting to leave third-use barrels for a few years just like this one. Rig hand doesn’t usually release single barrels, so the bottling here certainly indicates that they found something unique.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2020

And here we go with another run at one of the most interesting spirits in Canada.

The brum is loaded with earthy and fruity notes – but they are distinct from the ones you often see in spirits. On the fruity side, I find a combination of cherries, strawberries, goldenberries, starfruit, red currant jelly, marmelade, dragonfruit. On the earthy side, it’s more on wet earth, cacao, and a spicy rubbery character that I’ve found in some of the funkier rums. The earth and the fruit are joined together – interestingly – with a confectionary character – toffee, milk chocolate, pralines, and even candied orange peel. The palate is rich, earthy, dusty and spicy. The chocolate character is dominant throughout.

This one ventures even further into the unique, deep, and dark character of beetroot rum. From a uniqueness standpoint, it is a must-try. Though, I expect the uniqueness, and combination of fruit and earth might not make this one up everyone’s alley.

Assessment: Highly Recommended. This one is so unique.


Review: Last Mountain Wine Cask Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Last Mountain distillery

Image courtesy of Last Mountain distillery

ABV
45%
Aging
Bourbon Barrel; finished in wine casks
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

This first release was aged 3.2 years in an ex-bourbon cask before being finished for 6 months in a wine cask.

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 (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2021

The nose has lots of wine notes – in fact, it’s slightly candied and has some wine gum notes! We also have cherry, sweet wheat, lots of baking spice, vanilla, light oak, toffee, and toasted baking spices. It is so beautifully soft, and yet it is still big in the wine character. The spirit is quite clean throughout – as with all of last mountain’s wheat whisky offerings. The wheat whisky comes through, with a luscious graininess and toffee in the middle. The finish is loaded with baking spices and red fruits. A nice exercise in balance- especially when you want to try to marry wheat whisky to a big red wine!

This one isn’t as cask-heavy as the last one (to my memory at least) and I think the balance is better – it goes down so easy!

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: Last Mountain Distiller's Select Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Last Mountain distillery

Image courtesy of Last Mountain distillery

ABV
45%
Aging
Ex-Bourbon Barrel
Recipe
75% Rye, 25% Corn
Distiller Last Mountain (Lumsden, Saskatchewan)

This whisky represents one of the favourite releases from 2020 from Colin Schmidt, the founder of the distillery. It is aged for 62 months (5.2 years) in a freshly dumped heaven hill bourbon barrel. Let’s take a look!


Review (2021)

  • Batch: 2020 Distller’s Select

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2020

The nose here is amazing! I love Last Mountain’s wheat whisky for how it does justice to wheat (perhaps better than any other wheat whisky) and this one stewards the flavours of rye in the same way. Hugely complex: dill, lilac, icing sugar, spicy greens, fresh fava beans, tarragon, celery seed, corn husks, dried apricot, dried peach, fresh hay, and toasted oak.  The palate is big and balanced, with the spicy notes just blooming and some nice texture. The finish is rich, spicy, herbal – oh and there is dried fruit, too.

I find Last Moutain’s ryes to be quite floral – this one is certainly no exception. My favourite last mountain whisky to date, and one of my favourite whiskies from a small producer in Canada to date, also.

The tasting notes on Last Mountain’s website describe this as “subtle” – refined, yes, I wouldn’t say subtle – tons of big flavour here!

For so long, the big and best ryes in Canada lay solely with the big producers – Lot no. 40 from Hiram Walker, Masterson’s from Alberta, Northern Harvest from Crown Royal – this is the first one that I’ve tasted from a small producer that contends with those ranks…I think this one is better than the current iteration of Lot no. 40. Impressive.

Very Highly Recommended (19% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High at $75. So, by my assessment this is in the top tier of whiskies that you can buy for this price. Again, impressive…


Review: Last Mountain Distillery 306 Rum by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Last Mountain distillery.

Image courtesy of Last Mountain distillery.

ABV
40%
Aging
First fill ex-bourbon
Recipe
100% blackstrap molasses
Distiller Last Mountain (Lumsden, Saskatchewan)

Last Mountain distillery remains one of my favourite spirits producers in Canada - and I’ve always been eager to see how they have put together a rum. Generally the rums have been 1-3 years old, but now they are mostly 2.5 to 3 years old as the distillery has built up stocks. And - the rums should continue to increase in age as their inventory grows. The molasses has been sourced from an international producer to date, but they are soon switching to a Canadian supplier.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2021

The nose is sweet, with dried fruit, brown sugar, baking spices, toffee, balsamic vinegar, and a nice oakiness. It’s very clean – and the baking spices on the nose are just awesome. The palate is quite oaky, with dried apricot, orange peel, a whiff of molasses, vanilla, and white pepper. The finish is lightly tannic, with vanilla, baking spices, light molasses, prunes, and dried apricot.

It isn’t like a lot of other Canadian rums, which are often focused on heavy flavours. This is clean and elegant, and nicely balanced with a good cask. The cask character is strong in this – but since it is an ex-bourbon it works very well with this rum, rather than a new cask which would just dominate. I’ve tasted so many rums that are still quite raw at this age – nice to see one so clean and refined.

If mixing is your thing, and you like sidecar-type cocktails - this is quite nice in a Between The Sheets cocktail. In fact, you could stay in the Last Mountain lane and use their red-wine finished whisky as a cognac substitute – very different than cognac, but still fits into the cocktail well.

Or, if you want something darker, this would work well in a dark and stormy or else a rye and ginger ale, on the lighter side. That does the trick too…

Assessment: Recommended.


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.