This whisky was matured in a bourbon barrel and is a fine example of some solid old Canadian corn whisky, as we’ve seen in Highwood products. This whisky was from a single cask, aged 24 years, purchased originally from the Potter’s Whisky Broker. The bottle comes in at 56.5% (cask strength), and was released in February of 2014 – only 126 bottles were released. Again, this was a whisky tasted due to the generosity of a friend at a tasting this summer.
Nose: Dry, with maple, oak, and rich, rich grain and vanilla. Very nice. 27.5/30 (92%)
Taste: Beautiful – there is a balance of sweetness, oak, and grain. It is rich and dry on the palate as well. 28/30 (93%)
Finish: Slightly sour, peppery, and oily with some of the vanilla and oak poking through. 18/20 (90%)
Conclusion: This is fabulous stuff – deep, rich, with a diverse profile. 18.5/20 (93%)
This summer I had a real treat – a chance to try a Canadian whisky from 1946. This, really, is another big reason why community around whisky is so central – whiskies like this one should be shared, and the generosity of friends is well appreciated. Harwood’s was bottled at 90.4 American proof, or 45.2% alcohol, by Duncan Harwood & Co. in Vancouver BC. As far as I can tell, the whisky was also made in Vancouver – though I have yet to confirm this one. There is a Harwood’s blend still around, a very cheap whisky about 4 years old – certainly a far cry from this one. The brand originated from some of Canada’s earliest distillers in 1840, and I believe it originated in Montreal – but I am unsure on this account.
Every year, Forty Creek has a special release whisky which is fairly available in Canada though it always sells out every year after a few months. It is released in the fall, and is kicked off with Forty Creek’s whisky weekend which includes a tasting (this year a chocolate and whisky pairing), a distillery tour, and bottle signings. Last year’s Evolution was one of my favorite whiskies, and generally the special releases are of very high quality.
This whisky was aged for 25 years before being recasked together into fewer barrels so that the level of whisky in the barrels remained higher for the final 5 years of maturation. It was bottled in 2011, selling for an astounding price of 50$. You’d be lucky to find a 30 year old Scotch or American whisky these days less than 5 times that price….
This whisky, a 25 year old 100% rye whisky, is undoubtedly one of the most unique bottlings in the modern era of whisky. It was bottled in 2006, from distillate at least 25 years old at one of the foremost, if not the foremost, rye distillery in the world, Alberta Distillers. It sold in 2007 for an astounding price of less than 30 dollars – in hindsight almost a free giveaway, and there are stories of great competition for the bottles that were available in Ontario – preceding what now is all too common of a phenomena. There were between 5000 and 6000 bottles produced, and from time to time rumors circulate of another batch, but still no other batch has been released, nor is there any clear indication of another batch to come at this time.
Most times when you hear 100% rye from a non-craft distiller, you’re looking at Alberta Premium rye – and in this case, Jefferson’s is also sourced from there. So, despite how American the bottle looks, the liquid is in fact Canadian. The whisky was introduced a few years ago, and is another independent bottling of Alberta rye, like Whistlepig and Masterson’s – also all 10 year old Alberta bottlings. Between rye maturing relatively quickly and the rye craze, older ryes are in short supply in many places – Canada has some of the best stocks of this which has lead to more and more bottlings of Canadian rye even from other producers. However, a lot of that good Canadian rye is harder to access and often locked into blending cheaper whiskies. This whisky is aged 10 years, made of 100% unmalted rye and, in line with straight rye, matured in new charred oak.
Image from bevnet.com
A combination of the changing market of consumers and the rye craze has brought out some new interesting Canadian whiskies. Crown Royal has released 2 new whiskies, one being its Northern Harvest Rye and another its Hand Selected Single Barrel – the first being a 90% rye whisky and the second equivalent to a very high rye mashbill bourbon in terms of production and aging style. These whiskies are both components of whiskies which are blended together to form all crown royal products – in the classic Canadian style, most Crown Royal products are a blend of base whiskies (typically corn) which provide a good base and body and they are spiced with powerful whiskies (often rye) to add flavour and craft a blend, much like how Scottish distillers use grain whisky as a base and single malts as the flavoring to their blended whiskies. Now, what we are seeing more and more in Canada, is that more of the more powerful flavouring whiskies are being released as bottlings, as Crown Royal has done here – this is similar, I think, to the single malt craze which emerged and grew outward from the blended scotch industry.