This is Canada’s number 1 selling whisky – and it does have a story. Sam Bronfman, who originally oversaw the production of the whisky, waited 25 years to export to his largest export market (the US), to ensure he would have enough mature stock to keep up with demand. This blend was originally crafted to mark the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939. It was supposed to be a whisky fit for royalty, with the original stock, apparently, including whiskies well over twenty years old.
Nose: It’s quite clean, with a slight bourbon aroma – some of that stewed fruit and caramelized oak , vanilla, and then a whisp of sour corn which isn’t the most pleasant. The light oaky vanilla is very nice, though. It also smells quite grainy, and is light (at times) to the point that I find myself sniffing rather than just letting the aromas come. The stewed fruits seem to come out a bit more, and there are aromas of prunes as well. There’s a fair bit of sourness and almost a slight bitterness in the nose which I find detracts from it, however. 24.5/30 (82%)
Taste: A light vanilla entry buffeted by some thick corn before the vanilla comes through and a touch of drying ginger comes on at the end. It’s quite light – not hard in the spice or the rye department, but certainly has lots of fruits in line with the nose – the prunes and light flavour of dried apricots. Vanilla in this one plays center stage, and it’s light and reasonably clean. There is a tiny bit of sourness with a citrus character like slightly watered down orange. There are certainly many pleasant bourbon notes as well. Very pleasant to drink casually, but I do yearn for a bit more in my whisky. For all you smooth whisky lovers, no complaints in that department. 24/30 (80%)
Finish: There’s a touch of dry spice on the finish with an almost salty character, and very light oak spice with a touch of acidity and a bit of stewed fruit. It’s quite light, and I even get a tiny wisp of smokiness from the char in the wood. There isn’t much that is negative, but you have to search for flavour and the finish is a bit dull and short. However, it does coat the mouth nicely and cause your mouth to water, which is always great. 15.5/20 (78%)
Conclusion: It’s very common as a mixer, and it’s no surprise as to why – it is light, has a simple and versatile flavour profile, and won’t make cocktails run out of balance if the proportions aren’t quite right. Enjoyable to sip, but not one I’d be excited or look forward to getting into. This is a quintessential Canadian whisky, with a distinctive character with the corn creaminess and flashes of rye that is present throughout the entire range. The nose would be quite a bit better if it had a bit less sour and dull nature, but I am often pleasantly surprised at the quality of these “simple” mixers…quite enjoyable! 16.5/20 (83%)
Overall Score: 80.5/100