Malt

Review: Signal Hill Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Signal Hill 1.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
Refill Casks, Virgin White Oak, Ex-Bourbon Casks
Recipe
95% Corn, 5% Malted Barley
Distiller N/A

This is a new addition to Canadian whisky, a non-chill filtered combination of corn and malted barley whiskies matured in Canadian Whisky Casks, New White Oak Casks, and Ex-Bourbon Casks. It is an independent bottling of Canadian whisky, so it wasn’t distilled in Newfoundland, where it was bottled (no distiller is listed). It is bottled by Rock Spirits, who also bottle Screech and George Street Spiced Rum (I like to mix with George St.). The presentation of the whisky is fantastic, too – I find the bottle quite attractive. The whisky is named after Signal Hill, right near where it is produced in Newfoundland - the site of the first reported  transatlantic transmission by Guglielmo Marconi.

They recommend Old Fashioned, Whisky Sours, and Manhattans with this. They all work pretty well, though the manhattans need a lighter vermouth.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

The nose is fresh and clean, with light notes of dried berries, floral rum, and gentle oak. There is a nice rich spiciness to it, one that is a bit bitter, in a pleasant fashion that provides some grip. The fruitiness tends to grow with time, revealing more dried fruit and a bit of citrus. The palate is lightly sweet, and very easy. It has light brown sugar, light oak, dried blueberry, clove-studded oranges, and a flourish of vanilla and rum at the end. The finish has a touch of molasses, vanilla, some tannins, hard caramel candies, and clove and white pepper.

This is a very easy whisky to drink, and I find it very pleasant and well balanced – a great choice for a casual whisky. How about a comparison the 10 year old, rum-finished Guy Lafleur whisky from Wiser’s. That has a much deeper grain character and is more full bodied and rich, with less of what seems to be a rum characteristic. But Signal Hill is a bit more straightforward, and doesn’t emphasize the grain as much.

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

Value: Average. It’s a good whisky, and the price isn’t too high. It is perhaps a bit more than I would like to pay for this whisky (35$ might be the sweet spot for me), but that’s still only a difference of 5$.


Review: Bols Genever by Jason Hambrey

Bols 1.jpg
ABV
42%
Aging
None
Recipe
rye, corn, and wheat distillates
Distiller Bols (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Genever is where Gin originated - it was British soldiers fighting the Spanish in Holland who first developed a taste for this spirit, with a grain base (much like a whisky new make) which is steeped with botanicals such as juniper. It tastes much more like a whisky new make than it does a clean, citrusy gin. It is still the national spirit of Belgium and Holland.

Bols is the most influential genever brand in the world, with a recipe being produced which dates back to 1820. The distillery got its license in 1664, and Lucas Bols, the head of the company, had close ties to the Dutch East India Company which allowed easy access to spices for his genever. It's a very interesting spirit - I highly encourage those who haven't tasted it to give it a go! A lot of the flavour in the spirit comes from the triple distilled corn, rye, and barley - it is grain driven, unlike sister gins.


Review (2018)

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

It really reminds me of new make, but it has an appeal to it. Early on in my whisky enjoyment, I probably wouldn’t have liked this. I like it now. Rough and farmy, with a real farminess to it, but, behind, an edge of woody juniper and mixed spices – largely coriander. The palate is grainy and slightly hot, with a finish flourishing in farmy grain notes (sorry for the repetition – I mean by this something like a fermenting mash of grain – like a malt driven beer or a distillery). The palate is oily and rich, and the finish is spicy and woody and sweet – it’s a nice contrast.

It’s not something I’d put down a lot of money for, but it has a really nice raw essence to it and it’s the kind of thing I am tempted to reach for after a social engagement to wind down. 42% is a nice strength for it, too.

Assessment: Recommended.


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.