Quebec

Review: Sivo Rebel Le Moonshine Du Rye by Jason Hambrey

Sivo+Rebel+Moonshine.jpg
ABV
42%
Aging
None
Recipe
2/3 Quebec Rye, 1/3 Malted Barley
Distiller Maison Sivo (Montérégie, Quebec)

Janos Sivo, the founder of Maison Sivo comes originally from Hungary where Palinka - clear white brandy - rules as the national drink. He told me that he has been incredibly impressed with rye as he has worked with it, even right off the still before it enters into a barrel. As a result, he releases his unaged rye spirit - a mixture of rye and single malt new make - to show off the spirit. It is available at the SAQ in Quebec.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2018

The nose is grainy, spicy, and sweet. It’s very fruity, with touches of floral notes too. Lots of berries! The complexity of rye is on full display. The palate is light, quite herbal, and spicy. The sweet grain character of the spirit rises towards a lightly hot finish with a light roughness and dryness.

Very characteristic of Sivo. Fairly clean overall. It’s not one I’d reach for to sip, but I find new makes so interesting in understanding what maturation does to a whisky. If you are curious to try new make whisky spirit, and haven’t, this one is decently priced at $25/500 ml.

With ice, it has a soft grainy front and is fairly sweet.


Review: Sivo Le Single Malt Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Sivo+Single+Malt+2.jpg
ABV
42%
Aging
New European Oak; Sauternes Barrel Finish
Recipe
100% Quebec Malted Barley
Distiller Maison Sivo (Montérégie, Quebec)

Sivo Le Single Malt is matured at first in new oak and then finished in Sauternes casks, giving a rich and developing fruitiness to the whisky. It’s in high demand, and in Sivo’s own words - they can’t make enough of it. At present, it is only available in Quebec. I’ve tasted a number of cask samples from there - they have some interesting casks going, including an incredibly honeyed beer barrel.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: 2019; Finished in Sauternes Casks

  • Bottling Date: 2019

  • Bottling Code: N/A

Sharply nutty and full of quite intense grain – like buckwheat soba noodles, but also pain thinner and sharp rye sourdough. Very sharp and unique, but still could use a bit more barrel time – much like le rye. Dried, sweet, fruit throughout, too – dates, raisins -  with a growing sense of roasted grain on the palate and a lot of woody – oak, maple, and chestnuts. There is a nice charred and smoky note – a bit like cacao – towards the end. Nice medium bodied, mixed grain finish with dried fruit, cacao, oak, and oaky spices. It has a terrific finish with a great balance between the dryness, sweetness, and tartness. The finish makes the whisky very moreish – it is having me come back and back.

It is sharp and nutty much like Le Rye – but the palate is softer and lighter. In terms of 3 year old single malts, this is pretty good. The grain character is not too heavy/rough (though it is sharp) - it  works well. It doesn’t have the spicy or tea notes of the rye, but it isn’t as rye. I like it more, but it isn’t as interesting. They are both whiskies to watch as they continue to develop and age.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). It still has the harshness of youth and heavy oak, but this is very interesting and carries spicy, earthy, wine, and grainy notes really well.The finish is just awesome, and it really draws you in. It is very complex, and worth trying. Notably, it’s a touch better and more balanced than the first batch I tasted.

Value: Average. Exactly in the middle of the category too. Notably, cheaper than most craft distilled single malts at $55 and this had a sauternes finish to boot.


Review: Sivo Le Rye Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
42%
Aging
New European Oak; Port Barrel Finish
Recipe
2/3 Quebec Rye, 1/3 Malted Barley
Distiller Maison Sivo (Montérégie, Quebec)

Maison Sivo was started by the Sivo family, who originally came from Hungary where the national drink is palinka, an unaged fruit brandy. With that background, Maison Sivo distills a number of fruit spirits along with some whiskies, currently a rye and a single malt. It’s a relatively new product.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2018

There is paint thinner and nail polish remover on the nose, and the alcohol is a bit prominent at its bottling strength of 42% - but with some water this fades and complexity is really drawn out. The nose is centred around some really nice grainy notes, reminding me of the warm smell of fermenting rye grain. There are lots of peppery notes, loads of rye spices (baking spices, green and grassy spice, and lilac), along with cherry juice, prunes, and a sweet wine character. The palate is sharp, spicy, and fruity – very jammy, with a nice oaky backbone. The spicy, dried fruit character of the port really comes out towards the end of the palate. The finish is dry and spicy, with white pepper, lilac, dried cherry, and vanilla.

The youth comes through on this one – but there’s lots of complexity and the whisky is quite interesting and has reasonable balance. As/if this whisky gets older, there’s a lot of potential! If you want to explore something that is a bit more unique and intriguing, I’d recommend, and I expect if the distillery can age it longer it may not be far from something special. It’s a bottle I’ve flagged to follow over the next few years.

Value: Average..


Review: Gibson's 18 Year Old Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
18 yrs
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Valleyfield (Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec)

Gibson’s 18 Year Old is a reliable and elegant Canadian whisky which originated in Pennsylvania in 1856. Eventually, it was sold to Schenley and produced at the Valleyfield distillery in Quebec, and in 2009 the brand has shifted to William Grant & Sons (who also own Glenfiddich and Balvenie Single Malts, among others) and is produced out of the Hiram Walker Distillery in Windsor, Ontario. Thus, eventually versions of Gibson's 12 Year Old and this 18 Year Old will be made from Hiram Walker liquid, but not for a few more years yet.


Review (2013)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: No. A 19463

  • Bottling Year: ~2013

Nose: Vanilla, honey, oak, caramel, creme brulee – it certainly develops as it sits.You can sense the sweetness of the whisky in the nose, and the oak combines with this to make me think of maple. There are some beautiful cedar notes, and intriguing notes of pickle. The nose has a slight floral element to it as well reminding me of the blossoming of a tree we had in our house growing up which grew big balls of white flowers. Most excellent!

Taste: Thick, slightly sweet, and creamy…lots of bourbon-like influence. There’s a good bit of oak and spice kicks in with some nice sweetness at the end along with some wheat-like graininess. There’s also a touch of cedar in the mix as well which pokes its head up here and there. The rye seems to be dusty, and the mouth dries out a bit as with other whiskies in the Gibson’s line. The cereals also come out for me in a way that reminds me of stale bread – which is not a bad quality. There are some fruit elements like grape juice. There’s a touch of acidity which seems to lift the whole experience up a bit and keep everything in check. Brilliant. Good mouthfeel to it as well.

Finish: Lots happens on the finish! There’s some nice honey, alongside some oak and tannin. It’s still wonderfully light even after all those years in oak. there are some really nice oaky and corn notes, similar to the smell of angel’s share if you ever have a chance to visit a distillery.

This is a fabulous offering by Gibson’s and this whisky is one that demands your attention – it is excellent. The wonderful honey, caramel and light fruitiness is balanced against the oak and cedar, and lifted up by just a touch of acidity.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very high. A whisky this good is worth the price, even at $75.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: No. A 38116; L14179IW 54SL24

  • Bottling Year: ~2015

Nose: This whisky demonstrates the style of much Canadian whisky (even though it didn’t originate in Canada) that is typically mixed into cocktails – but this is refined, complex, and creamy – a clear class above most of those. There is fruit – dried and dark, yet still holding some lighter elements like white grape, some nuttiness, vanilla, some grassy freshness…some oaky earthiness too. Rich, in a way similar to sherried whiskies though this doesn’t smell particularly sherried – but has some of the rich nuttiness and dried fruit. Here, the earthy woody notes seem emphasized over the vanilla and coconut of the review above, and it’s not quite as sweet on the nose. A bit darker and not quite as stunning as my sample from 2013, but nonetheless brilliant.

Taste: Rich, with a mix of fruitiness and nuttiness – and a decent bit of rye amidst it all. A touch bitter on the end – but it doesn’t detract. The richness of the grain meets the richness of the fruit and the oak quite well. Sweetness is nicely balanced.

Finish: Nutty, oaky. Dries out as well – it still tastes so rich. Praline, a bit mossy oak, and a bit of a spicy edge too – more on the side of nutmeg than other things, I think.

Very nice, rich…certainly aged well with a very nice profile. This bottling is still very nice, but it’s a tad below the last one in terms of some subtle complexity – but it still is very nice. The rich, complex, and creamy nature of this gives Forty Creek Confederation Oak a sparring partner in terms of rich complexity and subtlety.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High. Still great value, but this batch wasn’t quite the previous so it isn’t “very high”, but is still high value even at $75.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Playful– smoky wood, with some nice minerality and milk chocolate alongside green pear, clove, porridge, anise and a touch of banana. Great dried fruit, integrated with the vanilla. The milk chocolate is fascinating – and I don’t recall seeing it before in the Gibson’s 18. Nice drying tannins and spice on the finish. Grains tend to come out more as it sits. There is an old corn whisky aged note to it – and some remarkable light fruit, too. The finish is quite wonderful – lightly fruity and drying with everything from candied to herbal notes. Still, too candied for my taste here, relatively.

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

Value: Average. A jump in price to $90 and a very slight decrease in quality (though nearly as good as above) bumps the value here from high to average.


Review: Radoune Gin (O'Dwyer Distillery) by Jason Hambrey

Radoune Gin 1.jpg
ABV
43%
Aging
None
Recipe
N/A
Distiller ODwyer (Gaspe, Quebec)

I encountered this at the SAQ in Quebec when a store manager gave me a sip. I was drawn right in! Made out of wild mushrooms in the beautiful area of Gaspe. Made with 4 different organic mushrooms in the gaspesie forest, along with other botanicals. The gin itself is named after a region - Radoune, which is an area between the two mountains where the mushrooms for the gin flourish. I must say I do like the diversity of gin...

Odwyer has whisky on the way, too...


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

A really interesting nose, especially with a bit of water added. Cilantro, pepper, a rich earthiness, and loads of umami notes. Citrus, also, in the middle – well worthwhile. The cilantro notes are fascinating – very much like cooked, as opposed to fresh, cilantro. Dried mushrooms on the nose, too. The nose really opens up with water. The palate is lightly sweet, with cilantro and mint sauce playing in amidst the earthiness and light citrus. It really is quite terrific...there is a light, earthy spicy backbone to this too. The finish is full of coriander, but we have the cooked cilantro, wet earth, and a great umami richness on the finish too. Big and long lasting on the finish, and there is a bit of rising heat leading up to the finish – fantastic.

One of the most unique gins I’ve tasted, and I really like it. It is a bit different than many gins I’ve tasted, and I wonder if it won’t be up everyone’s alley...but everyone should try it, if you can find it...

Assessment: Very Highly Recommended.


Review: Dillon's Dry Gin 7 by Jason Hambrey

Dillon's Gin 7.jpg
ABV
44.8%
Aging
None
Recipe
Made from 7 botanicals
Distiller Dillon's (Beamsville, ON)

This is Dillon's basic gin - made with 7 botanicals made with a rye base, bottled at a high ABV for a gin. They also make a 22 botanical, unfiltered gin. Dillon's has become known because of their high grade cocktail products, and this does not disappoint...


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 18

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

A rye gin! This is very nice...juniper is at the center, with coriander, cumin, cedar, orange peel, licorice root, lavender, and a slight sweetness at the end. The feel is nice, development is nice, and the finish carries the spices centrally. Gorgeous gin, terrific mixer, clean, simple, complex – the underlying earthy tones give it a great base. The rye base underneath comes through with great fruitiness and spice, even a bit of creaminess. Great from nose to finish – very nicely balanced.

Assessment: Very Highly Recommended.


Review: Ungava Canadian Premium Dry Gin by Jason Hambrey

Ungava 2.jpg
ABV
43.1%
Aging
None
Recipe
Made from 6 arctic botanicals
Distiller N/A (Quebec)

I'm not sure what the base is, but this gin is flavored with 6 botanicals, harvested in the summer in arctic Quebec: wild rose hip, crowberry, labrador tea, cloudberry, arctic blend, and Nordic juniper. It sells for $35 in Ontario.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: NL17c 815 H:1503
  • Bottling Date: 2015

Juniper, but broadly citrusy on the nose, even with some woody and oaky notes. Caramel, anise, cola, allspice, black pepper, and citrus peel on the nose. The palate is sharp, with juniper, anise, and light brown sugar before a broad, evergreen finish with a good dose of spice. Lots going on, and it is quite easy to drink, especially over ice. I like to mix with this one, as it really does showcase Canada. I like my gins a bit more juniper-centric and sharper (don’t get me wrong, I quite like this stuff), but this is more of a „modern” gin which many people are after these days.

Assessment: Recommended.


Review: Crown Royal XR Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
N/A
Distiller LaSalle (LaSalle, Quebec) & Gimli (Gimli, Manitoba)

LaSalle distillery, located in a suburb of Montreal, was closed in 1996, after being one of the two main distilleries operated by the Bronfman brothers who started the Crown Royal brand. With the shutdown of the plant, the coffey still was not abandoned, being shipped out to Gimli in Manitoba where Crown Royal is now produced. This Coffey still is now the only Coffey still operating in Canada. This whisky is not 100% LaSalle, but rather is created around LaSalle whisky with Gimil whisky blended in as well. It comes in at a hefty price, but is at the end of its production now.


Review (2015; Blind)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

Bright and fruity, with some apple juice and sweet oak. The apple mixes quite beautifully with the fresh oak, and things are brilliantly held in balance alongside some grapefruit, the grain, roasted almonds, light almond milk, and bourbon notes. The character of the apple makes it seems as if there is almost a bit of a fino-sherry type apple presence, and there are spices in the mix also. For the last batch of whiskies from LaSalle, I wish it would have come in a touch more than 40% - there is some nice elegance and complexity and I imagine it could have been significantly upped if it came in at higher proof, even without filtering to give us a truer sense of LaSalle. Nonetheless, still very enjoyable - both for taste and sentiment.

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

Value: Low. $200. Enough said.