This whisky is distilled in Alberta, by Alberta distillers, and is a rarity among whiskies – 100% unmalted rye whisky. As a straight rye, it is matured in new charred oak, giving it a big bold profile. 100% rye is unusual as a full component of a released whisky, though some canadian distillers produce and age 100% rye, corn, barley, and wheat whiskies as components of their blends. One reason 100% unmalted rye is unusual is because enzymes have to be added to the whisky to turn starch into sugar before the fermentation – and these microbial enzymes are grown and produced by Alberta Distillers themselves.
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.
This 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.
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.
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 (92%)
The 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.
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.