William Gooderham

Review: Gooderham & Worts Eleven Souls Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Gooderham & Worts 11 Souls 2.jpg
ABV
49%
Aging
Various Casks
Recipe
Wheat, Rye, Barley & Corn, Whiskies
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

I always enjoy these - this is one of three whiskies in Corby’s limited annual releases in their Rare Range, all premium versions of the standard (and excellent) Lot no. 40, Pike Creek, and Gooderham & Worts. We have Lot no. 40 Cask Strength, focused on pot distilled rye, Pike Creek 21 Year old, focused on barrel finishing, and this - focused on blending. The setup really works. Last year we had a 17 year old wheat, rye, and corn whisky - it was unique and very good.

This whisky is named after the 11 orphans that William Gooderham adopted on his way to Canada - as a tribute, this whisky was blended from 11 spirit types. This is incredibly impressive to blend together such a wide array of flavours into something so cohesive. The blend is composed of:

  • Grains: Brasetto Rye (a very flavorful type of rye that has been in recent production at Hiram Walker), Rye, Rye Malt, Red winter wheat, Barley, Barley Malt, Corn

  • Distillation regimes: column still, double column, still, pot still

  • Woods: Ex-bourbon and new oak

It was bottled at 49% in honour of the address of the old gooderham & worts distillery, 49 Wellington.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Eleven Souls (2018 Rare Range)

  • Bottling Code: 54SL24 L18213EW131

  • Bottling Date: 2018

The nose is gorgeous. Coconut, oak, beeswax, old corn whisky, sharp baking spices, dried apricot, prunes, uncooked wild rice, semi-dried tomatoes, and light confectionary elements – evolving slowly. Light lilac too – very nice. Adding water opens it up, but it is perfect at 49%. There is a great richness – a great “middle” - to the nose. It certainly demands extra study from my nose – it draws you in beautifully. And it shows a bit of a different side each time you take a look at it.

The palate is rich, varied, and complex – from rich, oily to spicy (cinnamon and clove) to oaky to fruit (mixed dried fruit). The mouthfeel is fantastic – very viscous – and there’s a gradual development from grain notes to fruit notes to sweet, vanilla notes and finally to spice. It tells the story in a measured way, and the core is simple, but the fringes are complex. And the movement in the mouth is amazing – smooth and viscous to slightly drying and still richly mouthcoating, and then the dry-ness fades and then picks up again. Excellent.

The finish is clean and very moreish. Slightly fatty/creamy – it leaves a very pleasant coating of grain and oak on the palate. Lots of creamy grain, baking spices, stone fruit, and dried fruit.

I described more the textures and impacts of the whisky, as opposed to just tasting notes (I could do this too) – because this is the unique and special part about this whisky. It speaks to the quality of the whisky that I can do such a thing. It also has an array of flavours – grain, wood, fruit, spice, candy, floral, and some umami - but my list will make this review a bit long.

Very different than last year’s release, which was a bit narrower and with a very different set of flavours. More oak centred, more biscuit-like, fruity in more of a winey sense, and not as broad, integrated, or complex (though still a fine whisky).

My favourite of the “Rare Range” releases this year.

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

Value: Very high. $100 is not cheap, but this is a terrific whisky for that price!


Review: Gooderham 1832 Decanter Canadian Whisky (1946) by Jason Hambrey

Gooderham 1832 2.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
10-35 Years
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Gooderham & Worts (Toronto, ON)

This whisky was bottled to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the distillery, in 1957, composed of a mix of whisky 10-35 years old (i.e. this has whisky distilled as early as 1911!). The cork disintegrated when it was opened, but it did not suffer any corkage (thankfully). I don’t know much about this, except that there was also a version released with a tax stamp of 1948 and 1951. I’ve had the 1951 – it’s smooth, easy, and perhaps a bit simple. This vintage is better, if you like more than just smoothness...but they are all nice whiskies, if undamaged

As far as I know, or can guess, this whisky is the oldest gooderham 125th anniversary decanter release - either released in 1957 (the 125th anniversary) alongside the 1947 release or preceeding it. Then, evidently, the popularity drove this to be released again with a 1951 release in 1961 or later (since they all say the whiskies are at least 10 years old).

This could have had stocks from Hiram Walker, too, since both distilleries were owned by the Hatch family at the time - and my friends who used to work at the distillery don't know anything about this bottling. It was a remarkable distillery - huge, ambitious, and with many stories to tell. Much of it still remains, though with little history remaining as it's turned into more of a real estate/tourist attraction - but you can still go down to see some of the outsides of the old brick barrel warehouses, or the distillery, or the offices, or the stables, or sit in Blazac's coffee, which used to be the old boiler room (still having the original mahogany trim), and think about how times have changed...


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Tax Stamp 1946

  • Bottling Code: None

  • Bottling Date: 1956

The nose is rich, full of dried fruit and caramel – rich and buttery. Clove, apple juice, and light cork (not in a bad way – not corked, but does smell a bit like an old cork). Corn husks, prune, raisins, currants, dried apricot, lots of grape, dusty earth, oak, and a bag of mixed spices. The palate is big and full of fruit, spice, and toffee along with rich charred oak and herbal undertones. Loads of dried fruit, and loads of spice. Balanced, interesting, well blended, and delicious. The finish has spices, loads of dried fruit, and enough brown sugar that it might be confused for an aged rum that isn’t too sweet. The rich spices underpinning everything are remarkable – I rarely see that – in that way it reminds me of Hiram Walker special old but this is on another level with all the dried fruit and toffee in the mix. Remarkable.

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

Value: N/A


Review: Gooderham Centennial 15 Year Old Canadian Whisky (1952) by Jason Hambrey

Gooderham Centenniel 1.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
15 Years
Recipe
N/A
Producer Hiram Walker & Sons (Windsor, ON)

I don't know where this was distilled - it could have been made at Hiram Walker in Windsor, or Gooderham & Worts in Toronto, at one time the largest distillery in the world but closed at the end of the 1980s with most of its brands shifting to Hiram Walker.

This whisky, though, is special - it was bottled to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Canada (and here we are, celebrating 150 years!). It is a rich, well-crafted whisky and, notably, a screw cap so it doesn't have cork damage if you can acquire one. It comes in a thick, hexagonal bottle showing the founders of Canada, and has a pamphlet inside showing which describes who everyone is!


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Distilled 1952

  • Bottling Code: None

  • Bottling Date: 1967

A rich nose full of prune, vanilla, old clove, corn husks, white pepper, caramel, leather, raisin, oak – very rich. Lots of old clove. Gorgeous. The palate is even better – sweet entry full of a big oaky backdrop complete with fresh oak notes and barrel char, loaded with light vanilla pudding, caramel, fruitcake, dried fruit notes, and prune in the backdrop. The finish is full of light grain and vanilla, and slowly fades to clove and white pepper as it dries, yet it retains sweetness so that you want another sip. Very well balanced, and not too sweet at all – the spice, fruit, grain, and body all work together very well. They knew how to make good Canadian whisky in the 50s!

This is extremely elegant whisky. It’s hard to quite find a modern comparison. It reminds me a bit of the rich corn character of highwood ninety 20, but it doesn’t carry the same age, complexity in the same way, or waxy notes. It reminds me a bit of Crown Royal Limited Edition in terms of style (light, complex, and clean), but this is much deeper. Some of the fresh oaky notes remind me of Wiser’s Union 52 or the 150th limited edition, too.

Classically Canadian, and one of the best I’ve had in the style.

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

Value: N/A


Review: Gooderham & Worts 17 Year Old Little Trinity Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Gooderham & Worts 17.jpg
ABV
45%
Aging
17 Years
Recipe
Wheat, Rye, & Corn, Whiskies
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

This whisky is named after Little Trinity church in Toronto, which William Gooderham established for his workers. It is 17 years old, and in the brand style of Gooderham & Worts, is all about the blending of different grains together - this time a three grain, rather than a four grain, blend. It's part of the impressive Northern Border collection, an annual release. Limited quantities, and a bargain price.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 2017 NBC

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

What a nice whisky! The nose has caramel, rich corn, green apple, light rye, toffee, vanilla, cedar, oak, honey, dried apricot, cinnamon, and caraway. The palate has terrific feel – oak, menthol, cedar, oak, blueberry – but there is a growing glow of juniper and spices towards a buttery, tannic (but not bitter) finish that has lots of spice and rich grain notes. I’m surprised how much juniper there is in this! Developing, and tells a story with different notes coming out at different times.

How does it compare, though? The standard Gooderham & Worts has more rye (by taste), and it is nothing short of a fabulous blend. I love it. This is terrific – but very different. A lot more wood interaction, and so the focus shifts – old is not necessarily better. But, I rate them the same. Good, in different ways. Thrilled this is in Canada.

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

Value: Average. This is cheap ($80) for a 17 year old whisky, but I don’t quite like the taste enough to push it in a higher value category given the taste.