This summer I had a real treat – a chance to try a Canadian whisky from 1946. This, really, is another big reason why community around whisky is so central – whiskies like this one should be shared, and the generosity of friends is well appreciated. Harwood’s was bottled at 90.4 American proof, or 45.2% alcohol, by Duncan Harwood & Co. in Vancouver BC. As far as I can tell, the whisky was also made in Vancouver – though I have yet to confirm this one. There is a Harwood’s blend still around, a very cheap whisky about 4 years old – certainly a far cry from this one. The brand originated from some of Canada’s earliest distillers in 1840, and I believe it originated in Montreal – but I am unsure on this account.
I had no idea what to expect, sipping this. 1946 is the same year that the Nuremburg trials ended – just to put this in perspective. It was after the repeal of prohibition which had established Canadian whisky into a booming industry, when Canadian whisky was viewed as high quality due to legal requirements around aging in the late 1800s. Hence, on the label here, “imported” would have been a selling feature from. However, what was added to the whisky in terms of flavouring might still be a mystery. How did it taste? Not this was interesting. I didn’t expect much – I expected something harsh and young – certainly not what I found in the liquid:
Nose: Very Dry. Fairly light, with dry dirt, cucumber, peppery, and fairly light – with dominant aromas of turnip. Light vanilla. Not heavily dominated by oak or grain. A very, very, interesting nose. 26/30 (87%)
Taste: Thick, somewhat woody, with a light sweet character as well. Woody and sharp, with an Italian amaro like quality to it as well with all the rootiness. Char and tobacco as well. Very different in character to what I normally have, but very very good. 27.5/30 (91%)
Conclusion: Very surprising! The rye, in broad strokes, comes through quite nicely and the mustiness and earthiness is contrasted (well) by the floral, light rye. Very interesting, and very good. 18/20 (90%)
Overall Score: 88/100