Review: Danfield’s 21 Year Old Limited Edition Canadian Whisky

Danfield's 21 - 4This is one of my favourite Canadian whiskies, coming out of the Black Velvet distillery in Lethbridge, Alberta. Generally, it is recognized as their premium sipper, although a younger version is also available (though not in Ontario where I reside). It claims to be “diamond filtered” but based on what I have gathered, no one really knows that that is. Despite what that process may or may not be, it is one of my favourite Canadians and is always a treat.

I might venture to guess that it would be hard to find another 21 year old whisky so poorly presented, especially when the gold sleeve slides off and a simple plain neck and screw cap is revealed. However, I also don’t know where else you can find a 21 year old whisky which is only $45…Danfield's 21 - 2

Nose: At first whiff, it seems a bourbon nose. Then, wait, is it a rye nose? Or…a malt nose? I can’t think of a bottle which seems to show up all three grains so distinctly as this one – you can pick them each out as you admire it. It’s beautiful. It’s all framed and held together by the rye in the background, but the part that seems to lift the nose up are the bourbon notes. It’s quite floral – carnations and  green leafy plants – and fruity – icewine, in particular. Honey, once again floral, a bit like lavender honey if you’ve ever had it.

There is apple juice, with pulp included, a bit of lychee, and, of course, the oak is there, as well as some maple, but it’s so light and you have to search for it a little. I even found a touch of moss developed as it sat. I really love this nose. fantastic! 28.5/30 (95%)

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My Corn Whisky: Week 10

If you are interested in the earlier posts of this whisky maturation, click here.

As we’ve hit week 10 with my corn whisky in the barrel, I thought I’d spare a slightly larger sample. Usually my samples run around a ml or two every week, but I took 5-8 this week. It’s coming along! However, I still think there’s lots to go. Here are the tacorn week 10sting notes:

Colour: definitely gaining some colour as you can see in the picture to the right.

Nose: It’s still quite raw and aggressive; with lots of vanilla notes and some dried berries; it smells quite sweet – but the aromas are quite floral – the sweetness is more like nectar than honey. The barnyard aroma I detected earlier is done, which is nice, and there are some lovely light blossom-like citrus flavours. It still smells quite oily and there is lots of dried corn dominating the nose along with the vanilla. As for balance, the corn dominates too much and the other interesting floral and citrus aromas lift the whole nose up but they lurk too quietly in the background.

Taste: it’s thick and oily (although not as much as was present in the new make) and fairly sweet, with an alcohol explosion mid-palate (i.e. lots of alcohol without much flavour attached). There is vanilla, icing sugar, and a bit of citrus – orange and lemon peel. Really, it seems a 2 stage taste – there is some heavy dried corn at the beginning followed by vanilla with those light citrus notes. At the end there are spices as your mouth dries out with a bit of tannin and cayenne pepper.

Finish: Light corn, then vanilla and grapefruit. Quite intriguing. Eventually left with dry oak.

It is developing, and has some interesting parts developing – but it has a far way to go, and much more could be done for balance. In the barrel it remains! the 4-6 weeks that was recommended for time in the barrel seems an underestimation, for sure.

(to see the next post in this series, click here)

Review: Johnnie Walker Red Label Blended Scotch Whisky

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Image courtesy of http://www.31dover.com

The world’s number one scotch by bottles sold. A very iconic blend and in so many cases people’s first whisky experience. I like that Johnnie Walker doesn’t use age statements as the key to their branding (though they do affix an age statement on black label and platinum label), but, rather, the whiskies are known by label colour. Many people assume that older is better, which simply isn’t the case – it’s different. And, in some cases, too many years in oak can bring on some very unlovable oak bitterness. All this to say, I like the branding as it promotes the fact that the whiskies are different, age aside. For a blend, especially, it is true that the whiskies could be very different between the cheaper and more expensive versions as there may not even be any repeat component whiskies that make the blend (though this is unlikely).

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Review: Cream Liqueurs

A white board for our results!

A white board for our results!

I thought as we are in holiday swing now that I would do something a bit different in terms of reviews. For as long as I can remember, my aunts and uncles always have plenty of Baileys around at Christmas, both for having on the rocks and in coffee.

While visiting Forty Creek distillery earlier this fall, I had a chance to try their cream liquor and I was very impressed. Bailey’s is a longstanding favorite of mine, and hadn’t evenimages considered that something else would come in better than it – it was always just the fabulous standard for cream whisky. So, noticing also Sortilege maple cream in the liquor store, I had a few friends over for a cream liquor taste-off. The lineup for tasting included the original Bailey’s, caramel Bailey’s, Sortilege Maple Cream, and Forty Creek Cream.

To spice things up a bit, I submitted two of my own recipes as well. I made two kinds, with a cream base from this recipe. Really, it was quite simple, as my base was simply whipping cream, sweetened condensed milk, and eggs. I divided my batter in two, and made a rum, chocolate, and mint liqueur by adding melted chocolate, sailor jerry rum, and mint extract (i.e., drained rum that was soaking with crushed mint leaves all night). I don’t remember quantities, as I added bit by bit as I blended and tasted. The result was as you might expect – a rich, creamy, chocolate and mint concoction with a touch of rum flavour as well. The guests loved this! To the other half of the cream I added amaretto, vanilla (from vanilla beans and vodka), and bourbon (Eagle Rare 10 year old). The result of this was surprising, and very complex and different. The almond and vanilla set a base for some rich oakiness from the bourbon. I really liked this one. The only critique I got from this was a lack of alcohol kick and a bit too much sweetness (all from the sweetened condensed milk!). Surprisingly enough, my concoctions stood up pretty well against their (more expensive) branded counterparts.
There were 7 of us, and we all rated the liqueurs out of ten (i.e. 70 total marks). The results, in order of total average score:

Forty Creek: 55.5 (85%)  cream-big1

Mint Chocolate Rum Cream: 55.5 (79%)

Almond Vanilla Bourbon Cream: 54 (77%)

Sortilege Maple Cream: 49 (70%)

Bailey’s Original, Bailey’s Caramel: 47 (67%)

It’s a harsh lot of graders because despite the low marks they all taste pretty fantastic in my book! Forty Creek clearly won, and was the highest mark of 5 graders (tie for best mark for one). 2 of the group liked the rum/mint/chocolate the most, and 2 liked the almond vanilla bourbon the most (tie for best mark for one). The original baileys maforty creek creamy have been the least well received as it received the lowest mark from 4 of my friends.
So there we go! My fellow Canadians, why not pick up a bottle of Forty Creek cream instead of Bailey’s or your other default cream? It is wonderful, without as much alcohol bitterness and with chocolate, coffee, and caramel. I (and my 6 other judges) highly recommend it! And, it would appear, there are fellow bloggers who agree.
I was surprised that my own concoctions held up, to be honest. Interestingly enough (or, perhaps, obviously), on ice cream my rum/chocolate/mint cream had no competition. It was fantastic. By the time we got around to judging in coffee and on ice cream, we stopped our serious judging and didn’t come up with results as we had far too much sugar. However, I would modify the recipe. I would use condensed milk (unsweetened), instead, and add maple syrup to sweeten where necessary. That should help it becoming too sweet. Additionally, in the future, I will probably experiment a bit with other options for thickening the cream, as the flavor of condensed milk in a cream-based drink is a bit too dominant. I will tinker more…and in the meantime, making your own cream is also something I recommend! Happy Holidays.

Review: Johnnie Walker Black Label Blended Scotch Whisky

JW Black

image courtesy of 31dover.com

For so many, this is the whisky that first attracts them. Often, red label is the first whisky experience, but this one is a cut above. For me, it was the first whisky in which I smelled the beauty of smoky peat, and I would often take my half bottle out of my cupboard and just smell it – not even pour any – but just take off the cap and give it a sniff. This, along with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, were really the two whiskies that started my love of whisky.

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