Last Straw Distillery

Review: Last Straw Distillery Signature Series - Whisky in the 6 by Jason Hambrey

Last Straw Whisky in the 6 (2).jpg
ABV
56%
Aging
3 years; Re-charred Wild Turkey Casks
Recipe
70% Corn, 20% Rye, 10% Barley
Distiller Last Straw (Vaughan, Ontario)

This whisky was a collaboration between Last Straw Distillery (who have had some pretty decent whiskies of late) and Rob from Whisky in the 6, a whisky Youtuber. Rob helped choose the mash, picked the barrel, and the final ABV. After a number of Last Straw’s whiskies which I enjoyed recently (their rye, and their not-a-whisky Stout Spirit) I was very curious to see how this one turned out.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2021

The oak is everywhere on this whisky – intense, tannic, and spicy – but there is other stuff behind that – juniper wood, toasted oat crackers, dill, caraway, mint, banana, cucumber, pear, cinnamon, vanilla ice cream, graham cracker, freshly sawn oak, clove, and some hazelnut.

The palate is herbal, oaky, lightly sweet, and with lots of baking spices. We find ourselves with some more vanilla, apple cake, dill, corn husks, graham crackers, and cooked rye berries. It’s better with a bit of water added, it helps calm down the heavy new oak influence. Despite all the oak, the tannins are surprisingly light here. The finish has dill, toffee, vanilla, toffee, and a bit more banana.

The bottle does a bit better with a bit of air.

There is lots of complexity, but the balance isn’t quite there for me with all that oak. Lots of oak, not enough sweetness to balance, and some great spirit underneath.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). I struggled with whether to recommend this one. I find it too oaky, and not very balanced – but the complexity is intriguing and the oak softens as the whisky gets some air in the bottle. Ultimately, complexity won over balance – the finish was convincing, too.

Value: Average at $60. Given the challenge with finding cask strength (ish?) whiskies at these prices, if that’s your thing, it could creep up a bit higher.


Review: Last Straw Distillery Straight Ontario "Scorn" Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Image copyright by Last Straw Distillery Corp. Used with Permission.

Image copyright by Last Straw Distillery Corp. Used with Permission.

ABV
49%
Aging
Virgin Charred Oak Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Corn
Distiller Last Straw (Vaughan, Ontario)

Now here is something unique - a 100% malted (sprouted) corn whisky. I’ve never seen this in a whisky before - it is named after the name of the grain from the supplier - “sCorn” for sprouted corn. When I visited the distillery nearly three years ago, I tasted a few whiskies from the cask and one in particular stood out to me - this one. The distillate was just amazing. Now, here we are and the distillate is a whisky. The stuff is made just the same as their rye - mashed the same, same yeast strain - but very different whiskies. This whisky is currently available online.

There is another cask of this stuff currently maturing for a longer period, and in 2020 there are some plans to lay down a few additional casks.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

The nose is welcoming – tannic oak, barrel char, vanilla, custard, eggnog, pear, light smoke, clove, and a nice hit of boiled grainy notes (think porridge). It’s a tale of contrasts between the sweet creaminess and the spicy oak, and it’s bridged (nicely) by grainy notes. The palate is nice and creamy, and there is a really nice oaky, sweet kick at the end. Nice oiliness. Like the nose, it walks the balance between creaminess and tannins pretty well for a relatively young whisky. The finish has baking spice, vanilla, toasting hazlenuts, and apple. As all whiskies should, it drinks better slow than fast.

It is quite unlike other 100% corn whiskies I’ve had – it’s quite dynamic, not flat like some. The creamy and spicy notes really do a nice trick.

The empty glass the next morning is a must. It just oozes oaky, grainy, sweet aromas.

This is very nice – I liked their rye, too – both different, both good. I think both are nice now, but will start to get really good with more time in the barrel – so watch this space!

Recommended (82% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). I’m quite impressed with this, and it’s at the upper end of this category for me.

Value: The upper end of average. Pretty good buy, especially with whisky prices these days.


Review: Last Straw Distillery Rye Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Image copyright by Last Straw Distillery Corp. Used with Permission.

Image copyright by Last Straw Distillery Corp. Used with Permission.

ABV
43%
Aging
Virgin Charred Oak Casks
Recipe
100% Rye
Distiller Last Straw (Vaughan, Ontario)

Last Straw has been waiting the long three years before their first whisky, and we have here the first - a big, 100% rye whisky. I was consulted in the early stages in helping them decide release proof, between 43%, 46%, and cask strength - 61.26%. They bottled at my favourite, 43% - it was good at all but the oak dominated at higher proofs while maturation hadn’t developed a bigger “middle” yet for the higher proofs.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

This is very spicy, and at the outset I know it is shaping up to be a great rye. It has the deep vegetal and spicy characteristics that I love in big rye whisky. The nose has apple, caramel, arugula, baking spice, lilac, brown sugar, and dried fruit – this is very good! The palate carries on from the nose, with a bit more of a bracing oak character. The spice, arugula, and dry spices really come through on the palate and lead through to the finish. It’s balanced with sweet oak and dried fruit. The finish has dried fruit, spice, arugula, caramel, oak, dried chanterelle mushrooms, and fennel.

Highly Recommended (49% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, but encroaching upon high.  I really like the stuff, even for $75.


Review: Last Straw Distillery Golden Gin by Jason Hambrey

Image copyright by Last Straw Distillery Corp. Used with Permission.

Image copyright by Last Straw Distillery Corp. Used with Permission.

ABV
44%
Aging
Charred Oak Casks
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Last Straw (Vaughan, Ontario)

A limited edition aged gin from Last straw, who also produce a standard Gin twenty-one, reviewed here.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

There is some real nice caramel to this, and some dense toasted oak, juniper, and loads of spice notes like coriander and toasted cumin. It really is quite nice as a sipper – I like this more than the standard gin, but it isn’t too oaky to fit into most gin or brandy cocktails. The oak character is nice and big, but not overpowering – and it has retained a nice lightness. It is another aged gin which has quite nicely bridged gin with a decently big oaky character, which is hard to find. Although, perhaps it should not be surprising coming from distilleries with a big passion for whisky. If it isn’t obvious from the review above, the woodiness here fits in very well with the juniper and the spices.

Whisky is my favourite spirit, and gin is probably second (some rums beat out gins, but on average, gins beat out rums for me). I wonder if gin “purists” would like this as much as me, given my liking of wood influence in aging.

I actually really like this in a gin and soda (a favourite cocktail of mine due to simplicity, lack of sweetness, and the refreshing character). The wood character works really well, and there is tons of subtle complexity. It’s really good just over ice, too.

Assessment: Highly Recommended.

$45 at Last Straw Distillery or on their online shop.


Review: Gin Twenty-One (Last Straw Distillery) by Jason Hambrey

Image copyright by Last Straw Distillery Corp. Used with Permission.

Image copyright by Last Straw Distillery Corp. Used with Permission.

ABV
46%
Aging
None
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Last Straw (Vaughan, Ontario)

As with many micro-distillers, Last Straw is focused on whisky, but producing a number of other spirits on the side both because they are worthwhile and to help generate cash flow. This gin was created through extensive work.  A large number of gin recipes were tested, and, soon enough, the alphabet-designated gins had run past "Z" and the numbers began. After producing about 40 different recipes of gin, Last Straw decided to narrow down their decision to their 7 best gins. They sold tickets to a number of guests, who could come to the distillery over three days, taste the gins, and vote for their favorites over three days. On the second day, Brandon, the distiller, had just finished distilling another gin which he believed to be the best. After bringing out this eighth gin, Gin No. 21, it lead all the consumer voting even though it was only present at 2 of the 3 days of voting. Consequently, it was selected and has been a hit for the distillery, being their biggest selling product. Many of the customers of the distillery say that they prefer sipping this gin straight, without mixing it - telling you something of the quality of the spirit.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: 1
  • Bottling Date: 2016
  • Bottling Code: N/A

Very soapy on the nose – cilantro, juniper, citrus, and a bit of spice too - but still grainy with notes of potato and oat cakes. The taste is clean yet in a full flavored style of gin, driven by juniper and lemon peel concluding in a citrus finish with lots of pine, coriander, and baking spice. I do like gins where the juniper doesn’t get lost, as in this one.

Over ice, this one actually brightens and narrows in focus – more leafy, and the pine, citrus, pepper, and juniper aromas all come into focus in a new light. I like it more in this fashion. But, it depends how you like to drink your gin, I suppose. It mixes well - pulling its weight more than many other gins because of the full flavor.

$40 dollars at Last Straw Distillery, 40 Pippin Rd #9, Vaughan, Ontario