Surrey

Review: Sparrow Finely Crafted Canadian Rum by Jason Hambrey

Sparrow+Rum+2.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
4 Years
Recipe
100% Blackstrap Molasses
Distiller Central City (Surrey, British Columbia)

I do quite like rum, if it isn’t too sweet, and I’m always interested if craft distillers are exploring it, since I think there’s so much that the spirit has to offer – especially to the Canadian market.This is made by Central City, who also make the Lohin McKinnon line of single malts.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

The nose is quite nice – rich, sweet molasses notes with lots of oak and rich baking spice. The oakiness is rather reminiscent of Lohin McKinnon – the earthiness of the sort you might find in some root vegetables. Baked fruit too – blueberry crumble, raspberry pie, and even some baked peach. A very interesting, complex nose.

The palate is easy and sweet, with a rich molasses and berry character – finishing with sweet oak. The finish has more rich molasses – blackstrap, rich stuff. A very nice medium bodied rum that isn’t too sweet – it is slightly sweet, but not overly so (especially in the realm of rum). A quite pleasant mix of vanilla, spice, and oak on the finish. The fruitiness – berries, jam, and dried berry – continues.

Highly Recommended. I do quite like the oakiness on the nose…I would love to try this stuff at cask strength. I was very pleasantly surprised here! It’s nice to see some Canadian rum with 4 years on it, not that younger rum is necessarily bad, but age can bring some nice things to the table.

Value: Average, but very close to high (so really, it’s between them). Quite a decent rum for $50!


Review: Lohin McKinnon Chocolate Malt Single Malt Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Lohin Mckinnon Chocolate Malt.jpg
ABV
43%
Aging
Ex-bourbon and Sauternes wine casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley (85% pale malt, 15% chocolate malt)
Distiller Central City (Surrey, British Columbia)

This whisky is made from a portion of chocolate malt - heavily roasted malt which is used to create stouts and porters. As the chocolate malt imparts a rich dark character to the whisky, it was partially matured in the dessert wine Sauternes casks to create a rich, decadent almost dessert style whisky - however, I definitely would not characterize it as a sweet whisky, as far as sweeter styles of whisky go. As with their peated whisky, this was carefully distilled and "pushed" farther than typical to capture all of the roasted malt notes. 


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

A very impressive nose. It has that characteristic root vegetable earthiness, but with a sweet white raisin like sweetness. Prunes, caramel, maple, toffee, The nose is one thing – the palate another. It is a fascinating single malt. It starts earthy and then a rich toasted malt wave rides into the nutty finish which features sesame, milk chocolate, raisin, and vanilla. Terrific! A winner, especially for lovers of roasted malt beers like stouts or porters – the characteristic really comes through. This is a classic!

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

Value: Average. The best value of the Lohin Mckinnons, but that’s because it’s been my favourite to date. It’s almost in the high category for value, since I quite like it, but it isn’t quite there. This is a unique malt, so if you like those, it’s worth seeking out!


Review: Lohin McKinnon Peated Single Malt Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Lohin Mckinnon Peated 2.jpg
ABV
43%
Aging
3 yrs Ex-bourbon barrels and px sherry
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Central City (Surrey, British Columbia)

This is a heavily peated malt (sourced from Baird's in Scotland), aged in ex-bourbon barrels and ex-Pedro Ximinez sherry casks. The whisky is about 3 years old, and if you taste it, you'll notice different characteristics than your classic Scottish peated malt. Though the peat is Scottish, it's not Islay peat, and there are a number of key differences which drive flavour:  the stills, the fermentation (they use stainless steel fermenters rather than washbacks which expose the fermenting wort to more environmental effects like bacteria), the water source is from the city (soft mountain water) and yeast used is brewers yeast. This single malt was also double distilled to try to extract more of the peaty character (their typical distillate is single distilled in their hybrid still). It's pretty rare to find Canadian peated single malt, and the ones I've had have all been quite diverse (e.g. this is a very different whisky than the Two Brewers peated stuff).


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Very interesting nose. Slightly earthy, ever so slightly medicinal – but this is unique among peated whiskies for me. There is some smoke, but also some very interesting earthy and vegetal notes – like baked sweet potato skin, rich earth, cacao, ginger, and a slight grassy sharpness. Yet, it has its sweet charms too, with light vanilla and marshmallow and a touch of milk chocolate emerging with time – a number of notes develop as it sits – and from all over, things like dried lemon peel and baklava.

The palate has a middle core of creamy malt, but includes burning pine, caramel, and all kinds of other notes from all over the place: dried parsley, cedar, limestone, mineral water, and cinnamon. The finish has a touch of sage, more dried parsley, oak, vanilla, milk chocolate, and white pepper.

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

Value: Average.


Review: Lohin McKinnon Wine Barrel Finished (Black Sage) Single Malt Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Lohin Mckinnon Black Sage 1.jpg
ABV
43%
Aging
3 yrs Ex-bourbon barrels; 6 months wine barrels
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Central City (Surrey, British Columbia)

After 3 years in Jack Daniel's barrels, this whisky is finished for 6 months in Okanagan valley wine barrels - Black Sage's Pipe wine, which is a port style wine of 1/3 cabernet sauvignon, 1/3 merlot, and 1/3 cabernet franc). So with BC malt and BC wine, we get an interesting take...this just landed in Ontario on LCBO shelves. Uniquely, this whisky also incorporates 100% BC barley, unlike most Lohin Mckinnon malts which use prairie barley.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Balsamic vinegar, raisins, prunes, and, notably, rich dried currants – and very malty – it’s as if I’ve just crunched up some crystal malt in my mouth. Sweet potato and dried fruit dominate the palate, which also adds in some rich maltiness on the big finish which includes candied pumpkin (you find it more often in Europe…), roasted squash peel, white pepper, black currants, and coconut sugar. Rancio develops beautifully on the finish and complements the baking spices, tannin, and oak. Terrific. Very intriguing, interesting, and – if you like earthy whiskies – make sure to give it a go.

I quite like the palate. The nose is a bit hard to get around – just needs some more time! This is a nice work on the go though, and the concept works really well. I do love earthy whiskies, and as much as I think the standard Lohin McKinnon single malt is better, there are many times I’d reach for this one instead.

Value: Average. I don’t like this as much as most Lohin Mckinnon malts, but a single malt like this for about 70$ is about par for the course against the whisky category as a whole. It’s one of the cheaper micro-distilled single malts.


Review: Lohin McKinnon 150th Anniversary Barley and Rye Lightly Peated Single Malt Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
3 yrs; Ex-bourbon and ex-oloroso barrels
Recipe
Malted Barley and Malted Rye
Distiller Central City (Surrey, British Columbia)

A special release commemorating Canada's 150th anniversary, this was a very unique combination - a lightly peated single malt was combined with a malted barley whisky to create what may well be described a very unique whisky.

This whisky won the award of excellence (innovation) at the Canadian whisky awards, and for good reason. Peated whisky in Canada is rare and a blend of malted rye (rare) aged in ex-bourbon casks and lightly peated barley in oloroso sherry casks.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

An interesting one – vegetal notes, but they are bright and not heavy or spicy! Long roasted sweet potato, tamari, apricots, raisins, balsamic reduction, light smoke. Almost a bit sulphury. The smoke characteristic comes out on the palate, and it takes more of a smoky, vegetal, mineral character than the fruitier nose. Perhaps some woody honey, like acacia, too. The best part of this whisky is that you can almost miss the rye – it comes through in a flash – and it is such a nice flash – and then we’re moving on elsewhere. The finish still seems to keep those roasted root vegetables at the core, and the smoke carries onward and onward and you get all sorts of interesting notes like pickled jalapenos. And the sherry character at last comes through on the end, and quite nicely.

 At the Canadian Whisky Awards, this won a silver medal while their other two whiskies only won bronze – but I still prefer the other two I’ve tasted (their standard single malt and their wine finish). I like it, and it’s exceedingly interesting and there is lots of complexity built into it – but it still needs more time. But still, very interesting….(and I like interesting whiskies!)…

Value: Average. A very unique bottle, but not high value at the price (nor low value, either).