This whisky was aged for 25 years before being recasked together into fewer barrels so that the level of whisky in the barrels remained higher for the final 5 years of maturation. It was bottled in 2011, selling for an astounding price of 50$. You’d be lucky to find a 30 year old Scotch or American whisky these days less than 5 times that price….
This whisky, a 25 year old 100% rye whisky, is undoubtedly one of the most unique bottlings in the modern era of whisky. It was bottled in 2006, from distillate at least 25 years old at one of the foremost, if not the foremost, rye distillery in the world, Alberta Distillers. It sold in 2007 for an astounding price of less than 30 dollars – in hindsight almost a free giveaway, and there are stories of great competition for the bottles that were available in Ontario – preceding what now is all too common of a phenomena. There were between 5000 and 6000 bottles produced, and from time to time rumors circulate of another batch, but still no other batch has been released, nor is there any clear indication of another batch to come at this time.
Most times when you hear 100% rye from a non-craft distiller, you’re looking at Alberta Premium rye – and in this case, Jefferson’s is also sourced from there. So, despite how American the bottle looks, the liquid is in fact Canadian. The whisky was introduced a few years ago, and is another independent bottling of Alberta rye, like Whistlepig and Masterson’s – also all 10 year old Alberta bottlings. Between rye maturing relatively quickly and the rye craze, older ryes are in short supply in many places – Canada has some of the best stocks of this which has lead to more and more bottlings of Canadian rye even from other producers. However, a lot of that good Canadian rye is harder to access and often locked into blending cheaper whiskies. This whisky is aged 10 years, made of 100% unmalted rye and, in line with straight rye, matured in new charred oak.
A combination of the changing market of consumers and the rye craze has brought out some new interesting Canadian whiskies. Crown Royal has released 2 new whiskies, one being its Northern Harvest Rye and another its Hand Selected Single Barrel – the first being a 90% rye whisky and the second equivalent to a very high rye mashbill bourbon in terms of production and aging style. These whiskies are both components of whiskies which are blended together to form all crown royal products – in the classic Canadian style, most Crown Royal products are a blend of base whiskies (typically corn) which provide a good base and body and they are spiced with powerful whiskies (often rye) to add flavour and craft a blend, much like how Scottish distillers use grain whisky as a base and single malts as the flavoring to their blended whiskies. Now, what we are seeing more and more in Canada, is that more of the more powerful flavouring whiskies are being released as bottlings, as Crown Royal has done here – this is similar, I think, to the single malt craze which emerged and grew outward from the blended scotch industry.
Whisky has so many ties with brewing,- being, basically, distilled beer – that it’s really surprising that it’s taken so long for a major whisky producer to develop a hopped whisky. A number of small craft operation have added hops to their whisky – but this is the first large producer to put something out there.
Gibson’s whiskies used to be produced in Pennsylvania starting from 1938 until prohibition, and then in 1972 Shenley purchased the brand and moved production to the distillery in Valleyfield, QC after which point after some more ownership switches the brand was bought by William Grant & Sons who have moved production to the Hiram Walker plant in 2009 (for more look at Davin’s post here) – so eventually we will start to see Hiram Walker distillate rather than Valleyfield distillate going into the blend (in this case, about 2021 for the twelve year old). However, the whisky is now blended and bottled at Hiram Walker – and this is evidenced through the changed bottles, not with a cap which is more square. The whisky has also been re-labeled “rare”, like the old 18 year old was, and the new 18 year old has been relabeled “venerable”.
The Dalmore generally produces a rich, sherried style with a heavy spirit with older whiskies being some of the most collectible and expensive whiskies on the market, very similar to the Macallan – which, interestingly enough, also produces a heavier and sherried style of spirit. Some legendary bottlings have been released by the distillery, including a 64 year old Dalmore which had some whiskies in it which were over 140 years old.