My Rye: Week 1 tasting notes

My whisky has spent one week in the barrel! Even after a week, there are some noticable changes. If you missed last week’s post describing my whisky project, see here.

colour: no longer white, but a light, pale gold!

nose: there is vanilla on the nose now! otherwise quite similar to last week.

taste: sweeter, for sure, with some of the harshness mellowed out. However, still quite fresh with a lot of the sharp rye from last week. there is a bit of vanilla in the mix, and spice! what a pleasant surprise to have some heating spice and heat on the end of the sip, black peppers mainly.

finish: long, and much improved. there is some vanilla, and it again lingers for some time with some nice vanilla and rye notes (however, still very much needs to be formed!)

I may not post tasting notes every week, but will keep you all up to date. Cheers!

(To see the next stage in the process, click here)


Review: Lot No. 40 Canadian Whisky (2012)

Lot 40Though 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 (though the difference was marginal). 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.

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Creating My Own Whisky: Whiskyworks, Still Waters, and Buffalo Trace

The WhiskyWorks kit, available at Still Waters Distillery

The WhiskyWorks kit, available at Still Waters Distillery

In the spring, Still Waters Distillery released their first matured whisky – a single malt aged about three years. For those of you who don’t know, they’re a new micro-distillery up just north of Toronto and they have been producing some fabulous whisky (and some neat things on their website, check it out: They have produced a malt vodka, and a fabulous blended whisky called “Special 1+11 Blend Canadian Whisky“, in which they blended some of their young whisky into a blend of other matured whiskies (they added 1/11ths of their own, hence the name). They have some rye on the way, and also some corn whisky somewhere down the road. Based on tastings of their new make, I am really looking forward to seeing the rye come out.

Still Waters New Make RyeI went up to pick up a barrel of their single malt (called “Stalk and Barrel”) from cask no. 1, and while I was there noticed they had small 1 litre barrels for purchase with which you can mature your own whisky. Naturally, I was inclined to buy a barrel and also took some of their new make rye (spirit right off the still, which hasn’t spent any time in wood) with me. So now, after curing my barrel, I am ready to start aging my own whisky. I will post brief tasting notes week by week as I sample it to see how it matures (according to the pamphlet, it says often 4-6 weeks is fine). As the surface area to spirit ratio is much higher than in larger casks, you need far less time in the cask for the whisky to age. It is overall a very exciting journey. If you are interested, and able, to do this, I highly recommend it.

BT White Dog Mash 2

I also bought some New Make from Buffalo Trace (Mash #1), so I have some room to play with my whisky creation. As I have not done this before, I have a rough plan of what I am wanting to create, but certainly will have a fair bit of flexibility depending on what is happening. My plan, so far, is to age the rye almost fully in the new wood (it’s American Oak), and then mature the bourbon fully in the rye cask. Following that, I’ll put the rye back in for a double barrel matured whisky (unless it already tastes so great that I don’t want to mess with it!). We’ll see how it goes. I want some of the new oak flavours to go to the rye but do not want it to become overwhelmed by the oak or be too bitter from the wood, and I am hoping the bourbon can help increase the complexity, bring in a few sweet notes and smoothness. I do want some of the nice new oak spices and vanilla flavours to be captured by the rye, though, which is why I am putting it in first, but I also would like a bit of the honey from the bourbon cask. We’ll see how it turns out.

Barrel 2

The Cask: American Oak, Medium Char, Thousand Oaks Barrel Company, 1 litre capacity

The barrel smells brilliant, particularly after I filled it with boiling water to cure it. Woody, creamy oaky notes (no suprise here), with a strong scents of vanilla and touches of cinnamon. It also smells almost sweet and honeyed, but perhaps this is my excited brain dreaming of bourbon as I am reminded of it. Regardless, I am excited to see what this produces. I also tasted the water coming out from the curing, and noticed the following: strong, oaky vanilla dominating with a touch of sweetness and a surpising linger of flavours.

Tasting Notes: Still Waters New Make, 50%

Still Waters New Make Rye 2First of all, my brain loves new makes to analyse and think about them, but my palate generally does not. It’s amazing what wood does to the harshness of new makes. This new make is made from close to 95% percent rye, from what they told me in the shop. It is the best new make I’ve tasted (though I’ve only had a handful), perhaps because I prefer my rye to my corn in a new make.Here are the tasting notes based on a small sample:

Nose: sharp, spicy rye with a distinct green woodyness to it and a bit of brown sugar and black tea leaves. the nose is a little harsh.

Palate: thick and spicy at the front before spreading over the tongue with that green woody-ness and finishing in some rising, spicy, rye heat.

Finish:lingering, fresh and crisp.the spices and rye remain.

I also might just say that I really like the bottle – it is clear, round, but with sharp edges, unlike the Stalk and Barrel bottles which are rounded, a near metaphor for the transformation of distillate to whisky.

I am really excited for this. Into the barrel it is going, and time and wood will do its work! As it is quite humid here in Ontario, sadly, more alcohol will likely evaporate than water – I would rather the proof increase than decrease. As I have a hydrometer, I’ll be able to check when I’m done! I will post updated tasting notes based on a small sample each of the following weeks. I have measured in about 755 mls of new make into the barrel, and now, I wait…

(To see the next stage of this process, click here.)

Review: Three Ships 5 Year Old Premium Select Whisky

Three Ships 5 Year OldThree Ships Whisky is produced at James Sedgewick Distillery, in Wellington, South Africa. It’s the only South African whisky I’ve tasted, and it caught my eye because won some great awards at the IWSC and the WWA…the malt and the grain are distilled separately  – the malt whisky in a copper pot still and the grain whisky in a continuous column still, and then combined and aged. The whiskies are aged separately and then combined, a bit like 40 Creek. This 5 year old version has a blend of both South African and Scotch Whisky.

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Review: Collingwood Hand-Crafted Canadian Whisky

Collingwood Whisky

This whisky is aged in white oak barrels and finished with toasted sugar maple wood. The whisky is blended together and then put in a marrying vat for nearly a year with toasted Maplewood staves, to mellow the whisky – producing a very similar effect to placing them in maple barrels. Distilled by Canadian Mist in Collingwood.

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Review: Pike Creek 10 Year Old Canadian Whisky

A picture of Pike Creek from Packaging Digest

A picture of Pike Creek from Packaging Digest

I have to say, this is one of my favourite whiskies on the market, and hence I selected it for my inaugural review. This is a legendary Canadian whisky, which was produced for some time before production ceased. In 2012, the whisky was re-released and for that, I, certainly, am thankful. The whisky is double distilled, unlike the typical triple distillation of Canadian whisky. It is aged in white oak barrels before being finished in vintage port barrels and released in small batches, bottled at 40%.

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