This whisky was first made in 1951, by master distiller Jack Napier. He called in “Black Velvet” after loving the taste. It is distilled in the Black Velvet distillery in Lethbridge, Alberta, even though originally it was distilled at a Toronto distillery where demand caused a new distillery to be built in Alberta. It is “blended at birth”, which involves blending an aged 90% rye whisky (aged 2 years) with corn spirit right off the still before being put into Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels. This whisky is extremely popular in the US – less so in Canada, and can even be hard to find in Ontario.
Nose: Vanilla, with fruity rye – plum, apricot, and a touch of spicy, grassy rye – though this whisky is corn-based, with light corn aromas in the background and the lightest bit of banana. It’s a touch sour and tart, in the same way prunes can be. After some time, a light bit of bitterness emerges from the nose. The rye is actually interesting – at first I took it to be fruity, then I noticed the spicy and grassy characters…and yet, at times, it also appears to have a dusty sort of rye character. Interesting. 22.5/30 (75%)
Taste: Quite sweet. Raisins, wine gums, along with some fruitiness much like that found in the liquer Amarula (made from marula fruit), with a good hit of vanilla. However, it dries out with some bitterness which is less than enjoyable – but I only found this some of the time. It’s reasonably easy to sip, but this is much more of a mixer than a sipper. 22.5/30 (75%)
Finish: Light, cleansing, and a bit sweet, with a bit sweet with a bit of amarula, honey, creamed corn, white grape, and some nuttiness. 16.5/15 (83%)
Conclusion: It’s a bit too sweet, and it lacks depth – but would mix quite well. Fairly sweet…I woudn’t describe this one as “velvet”, but it was enjoyable. 15/20 (75%)