Review: Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Canadian Whisky

IMG_1356 (Large)This luxurious whisky is blended from over 50 different whiskies, and is then finished in cognac casks from the limousin forest – which is french oak – a style which brings out more spiciness, dried fruit, and tannin than american oak. On top of this, you have the fruity-spicy character of the cognac which has flavoured the wood in which the whisky is placed before bottling, “finished”, enabling this flavour to seep into this whisky. At present, this is the 2nd most expensive Canadian whisky you can buy in Ontario ($100), and I’ve heard this is the last year they’ll be producing it.They have brought out another cognac finshed whisky, Crown Royal XO, and though it is similar in that it is blended from many whiskies and finished in cognac casks, the whisky has a different flavour profile.

The name “Cask no. 16″ comes from the label stamped on the cognac barrels, indicating where the barrels came from. The whisky was discontinued in 2012, although Canada still got a good number for 2013 – there are still some on the shelves in Ontario but they will be gone before too long.

Bottle + Presentation: 5/5. Absolutely fabulous – wonderfully presented, with great attention to detail. beautiful. Perhaps not that practical as the box is an absolute pain to manage, but it does look very nice.

Nose: There’s some lovely deep vanilla, and strong cognac notes which become less prominent as it sits. It’s light, and rich with a subtle spiciness. There are lots of fruitcake aromas, with prominent currants and raisins. There’s a very slight meaty aroma on the nose with a touch of bitterness which detracts from the nose for me. There’s a touch of toasted oak in the background, black pepper, and the menthol-like note you get from crushing (fresh) green cardamom seeds. There’s also some interesting notes of thyme too. 25.5/30

Taste: This has a beautiful rich and deep vanilla sweetness carrying the whisky through the palate, with a bit of a rum-like kick. It’s light, and subtly peppery and spicy. There’s some green grape and slight bit of caramel, a good kick of thompson raisins, star anise, brown sugar, and some cloves. There’s even a bit of light banana and smokiness. Those raisins do certainly come out, and come through in an older tawny-port style with some caramel and wood. Light, and yet rich, as Crown Royal does so well. 26.5/30

Finish: Fruity, with some raisins, cinnamon, cardamom and clove. It’s not that big- but it’s very pleasant. The mouth dries out quite a bit afterward and some oak emerges – but it dries out too much for my liking. 13/15

Conclusion: Elegant, and very enjoyable, with some complexity but it doesn’t speak as loudly the elements I want to see. I would IMG_1354 (Large)be very interested to see what this whisky would taste like at 46% – it would change it quite a bit, but I think it would be more fascinating with just a bit more concentration of flavour. However, the flavours are enjoyable, rich, and wonderfully unique – overall it’s an excellent product. 18/20

Overall Score: 88/100

Review: Glen Breton Aged 10 Years Single Malt Whisky

Glen BretonThis whisky is made at the Glenora distillery in Nova Scotia (i.e., “New Scotland”), in Eastern Canada. It was the first Canadian single malt (and, indeed, the first North American single malt), but since then more malt whiskies have been produced and bottled by craft distillers. It is from a pretty small distillery (producing about 50,000 litres annually) on the island of Cape Breton, in Nova Scotia, which sits alongside an inn in a beautiful setting. The distillery is perhaps most well known for the lawsuit set against them by the Scotch Whisky Association, trying to get the word “Glen” removed as it sounds particularly scottish. And indeed it does, especially in an area made up of old Scottish immigrants where Gaelic is still freely spoken and taught in schools! Glenora won, and the whisky retains the name “Glen Breton”. This 10 year old version has been around since 2005, and is aged in ex-Jack Daniels casks.

A picture of the distillery from Glenora’s Website

Bottle + Presentation: 5/5. I like the box, and the bottle is well presented. The ode to Glen Breton in the inside cover I especially like:

“So the word is not out for all to see

A single malt from this side of the sea

A lowland taste, or a highland smile

or the tang of the sea, like a malt from the Isle.

 

These secrets reside in the walls of the cask

And those bouquets and flavours are with us at last

Ten years in a complex of oak and of smoke

Now we reach for the glass, for the cask has awoke.

 

And we’ll toast with Glen Breton with more than a dram

For the dream of Glenora has captured our land

From the shores of Cape Breton to our montainous west

Our friends now toast with their very own best”

Nose: Very light, floral (daisies mainly, along with other flowers), fruity, and clean. Fresh green apples, peaches, lots of honey, nectar, and some maltiness that is almost reminiscent of hay. The maturation warehouse itself at Glenora is situated in an apple orchard – some wonder if some of the flavour of apples come into the cask as it breathes. It’s a touch oily, which is not necessarily a bad thing – the oiliness reminds me somewhat of corn oil or cornbread, though, of course, there’s no corn in here. It’s creamy, with a little bit of vanilla coming through. Some pine comes through as well, which wonderfully complements the rest of the nose. There’s also a very light and slightly earthy edge sitting in the corner of this nose – fantastic. 27/30

Taste: Light and clean still, with some pear and that hay-like malty character. It warms on the finish before the malt leads the way into the finish. It is surprisingly grainy, despite so much fruit on the nose. There is still a white-wine like feel to this whisky, with the fruitiness and grassiness – perhaps a light sauvignon blanc. It has a nice balance of light acidity which gives a nice bite. It’s still quite oily, with good body – you can almost chew it. I do desire just a touch more sweetness, I think. 26/30

Finish: Malt, once again with a hay-like character, and a feel of spice – but nothing specific emerges. Over time, some oak remains in the mouth. I find even a touch of minerals, similar to the aftertaste caused by calcium in hard water. There are still touches of floral notes as well – daisies. It has nice weight, and does entertain the mouth for some time. There are also some interesting vegetal notes of celery and starfruit that emerge after some time. 13/15

Conclusion: It’s quite good, I must say. At first I didn’t like the flavour profile at all when I first tried it, however, after some time with it I do appreciate it a fair bit. However, I do wish for a bit more depth in Glen Breton (2)some of the elements, and a bit less in some, particularly the oiliness. However, I imagine, with a few more years the flavour would round out brilliantly. They have a few older versions that I haven’t tried, including a 17 year old finished in icewine casks – that would be interesting. 17/20

Overall: 88/100

Review: Redbreast Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey Aged 12 Years

Redbreast 12 (4) One of the most highly regarded brands whisky has to offer, with fabulous ratings across the board, this is an Irish pot still whiskey, which means it is made from both malted and unmalted barley. It is distilled at Midleton distillery in County Cork, Ireland. It is aged for 12 years, mostly in Oloroso sherry casks but partially in bourbon casks as well. The first official reference to this brand was in August of 1912, so it’s been around for quite some time. The name, redbreast, refers to a robin. It was likely named by the chairman of Gibleys, an Irish liquor merchant that managed the brand, who loved birds.

Bottle + Presentation: 5/5. I really like the colour scheme, the shape of the bottle, and the sturdy box. Impressive.

Nose: Some nice vanilla comes through, alongside some milk chocolate, dulce de leche, maple, charred oak, honey, dried apricot, strawberries, sweet stewed apples, mango, and still with the distinct pure pot still character…all harmoniously balanced. There’s also some beetroot, contributing a wonderful earthiness as well. Some leather emerges over time as well. A wonderful nose! 28.5/30

Taste: There’s a slightly grassy pot still character, apples, with wonderful underlying sweetness. This is delicious, with a brilliant light and smooth mouthfeel – it’s not extremely thick but it wonderfully coats the mouth. There’s some oak and vanilla in the background which leads right into the slightly spicy finish with a light touch of dried fruit. Lots of caramel and toffee as well…very elegant. 29/30

Finish: oaky, with an underlying caramel sweetness and a bit of earthiness. It’s quite light, with some nice vanilla notes, and lingers for some time. There is also some maltiness in the finish, and some charred oak. 14/15

Redbreast 12 (3)Conclusion: This is a whisky full of wonderful balance, complexity, and depth. And, it’s very delicous… very easy to just keep drinking the stuff. It starts off as very enjoyable, and it doesn’t get any worse – this is a very highly acclaimed whisky and it lives up to the bill. This is absolutely incredible stuff, and is a must-try for a whisky lover. 19/20

Overall: 95.5/100

Review: Gibson’s Finest Rare Aged 18 Years Canadian Whisky

Gibson's 18Bottle + Presentation: 4.5/5.

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! 27.5/30

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. 28.5/30

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. 14/15

Gibson's 18 (3)Conclusion: 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. A wonderful whisky – one well worth enjoying. 19/20

Overall: 93.5/100

Review: Gibson’s Finest Aged 12 Years Canadian Whisky

Gibson's 12The bottle has “gold” written on it, and is the colour of gold compared to the silver in Gibson’s Sterling. It’s interesting because it seems as if they can’t quite decide what to do with the “gold” label – is it a part of the name, or not? This whisky is an extremely popular duty free whisky as it is not easy or impossible to find in the States.

Bottle + Presentation: 4/5.

Nose: I get some caramel, and I pick up a fair bit of corn and some fruit like plum. There’s vanilla and there are bourbon notes which come off this nose, as well as some oak in the background. There’s a light touch of bitterness and sourness detracting from the nose, but they are quite light – however upon multiple tastings I found that it dominated too much. Like the other Gibson whiskies, there’s lots of creaminess to this nose. Amidst all else going on I nearly missed the rye which is sitting obviously in the middle of it all lightly directing the show. I find the nose doesn’t improve with time but grows a bit stale and bitter, which is too bad. 23/30

Taste: Thick, creamy and slightly sour with a citrus backdrop and a good kick of oaky vanilla and a touch of maple-like woodiness. At the end some dusty rye and spices kick in – clove and even a bit of allspice. The sourness/acidity is intriguing as it is a bit different and doesn’t go too far in one direction. There is a bit of bitterness right on the end – it isn’t horrible and I can’t decide whether I like it or don’t, which likely means that it will grow on me as I drink further. Tasting this whisky was odd – the first time I drank this I was quite impressed, but the second time and third time it appeared bitter and out of balance, and even upon comparing with Gibson’s Sterling I found this to be inferior. 22.5/30

Finish: At first the spices take hold for a reasonable length before there’s some light dryness and oakiness remaining in the mouth, along with a touch of rye. The length and weight of the finish is quite decent, but the flavour could be improved. 12/15

Conclusion: This is smooth, thick, and easy drinking other than the touch of bitterness here and there. However, the whisky is a bit of an enigma to me – the first tasting was very impressive (probably would have come out in the low eighties), but the second and third time there was Gibson's 12 (2)a lot of bitterness , staleness and it was way out of balance – and even tasting beside Gibson’s Sterling I found this to be inferior upon two tastings. I’ve never had such a different tasting experience two days in a row, even after conditioning my palate the same way each time. However, I’m standing with the scores from my two later reviews. 15/20

Overall: 76.5 /100

Review: Gibson’s Finest Sterling Canadian Whisky

Gibson's Sterling Gibson’s Sterling was first crafted at a time when Gibson’s whiskies were in high demand – the 12 year old version had much more demand than supply, so Gibson’s wanted to produce something to provide customers with the product they desired without having to wait a full 12 years for new whisky to be produced. Gibson’s sterling was the result, blended from some younger whiskies than in the 12 year old versions (and some considerably older ones too) and its popularity resulted in the continuing production of this whisky.

Bottle + presentation: 4/5.

Nose: fruity rye! I always get a breeze of white/green gooseberries as I pour this one. The nose comes off a bit buttery and creamy with some dry rye bitterness as well which doesn’t do it any favours. There is some light vanilla in the background, along with some light oakiness, maple, and light brown sugar. There’s also a fair bit of graininess to it – there are smells reminiscent of some of the grainy vodkas. As I spend some more time with the nose the bitterness fades slightly and is replaced by a bit of sweetness and molasses. Not a great one, but ok – the bitterness is a bit too much and is out of place. 22/30

Taste: it’s light, smooth and reasonably sweet with some rye, maple, and clove amid a lemon-like citrusy backdrop along with some very gentle oak. The mouthfeel is quite nice on this one and it feels juicy with the citrus and berry notes. There is a touch of bitterness in line with the nose but it isn’t as bad on the palate as the nose. Some spices come out on the end – clove and cinnamon – but the cinnamon doesn’t quite carry the spiciness of fresh cinnamon but has more the influence of cinnamon in pumpkin bread or the like. I get a lot of rum notes and am reminded a lot of Bacardi 8 year old as I sip this one. However, it is fairly easy-going and lacks complexity. It’s also reasonably dry, which doesn’t surprise me after the nose. 23.5/30

Finish: The spices start off the finish before some molasses and woodiness, which is slightly sweet and is pleasant. There’s some fruity rye which carries on for a decent bit afterward. It has medium length, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. 13/15

ConclusiGibson's Sterling (2)on: Reasonably pleasant, although the bitterness and nose could be improved and the taste is a little too laid-back. A decent value whisky, and, apart from a few off-key bits, it is quite pleasant. 15.5/20

Overall: 78/100

Review: Lot No. 40 Canadian Whisky

Originally posted on Whisky Won:

Lot 40

Though I posted a fast review earlier, I decided to update the review especially as in looking at my other reviews, relatively, this whisky was not marked quite high enough. I took a bit more time with the whisky once again, and it is marvelous (as before).This whisky was well regarded among whisky connoisseurs, until it disappeared roughly a decade ago. However, it was re-released in 2012 and was received very well – once again. Wonderfully unique and powerful, this is a fabulous release. It is made from 100% malted rye in a copper pot still at Hiram Walker distillery in Windsor, as part of Corby’s portfolio,  aged in new charred wood which is pretty apparent when you smell the bold caramel and candied rye.

Bottle + Presentation: 5/5.

Nose: This is wonderful rye, and an incredible nose! The big, and distinctive thing for me here is banana peel…and…

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