This whisky is sourced by Hood River distillers, a company in Oregon who source this 100% rye whisky from Alberta. They bottle a few other items, of which one is Pendleton “Let er’ Buck” and another new release is Pendleton Midnight.It can be a little hard to find…but it quite worthwhile.
The whisky world is abuzz with the announcement of Jim Murray’s Whisky of the Year, which this year was given to Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest Rye. Certainly, it takes a certain strong level of confidence to name a $30 whisky, without an age statement, the best whisky in the world – it’s contrary to much of what we see these days.
Jim Murray is one of the foremost whisky writers in the world, annually tasting over 1,000 whiskies in the process of writing his annual Whisky Bible, bringing about craze and competition for his top picks – this year, a Canadian. While the publicity is probably good for Canadian whisky – some things haven’t been good. Jim Murray’s love for Alberta Premium has probably not been good for Canadian whisky – I have tasted over 5 different batches of Alberta Premium, and been indifferent to it. Many, excited for a whisky rated 96.5/100, flock to the whisky as their defining experience of Canadian whisky – to walk away disappointed. I can say, with many other laymen and experts, that Alberta Premium wouldn’t be in our top list of Canadian whiskies at all. If that’s your experience with Northern Harvest Rye, don’t give up on Canadian whisky – there’s lots of great whisky to discover.
However, I like this year’s award for a few reasons: Continue reading
I was particularly interested in this batch of Confederation Oak because they’ve started to use new casks of Canadian oak for the releases starting from Lot E. John Hall distills, ages, and blends a mix of 100% rye, 100% corn, and 100% barley whiskies together and then barrels them off into a Canadian oak cask before blending the casks together and bottling. It all started with the first batch, made from casks which John Hall himself brought to a cooper to be made into barrels (for more info, read my review of Batch B). Since then, the barrels have continued to be re-used, but now the original barrels are largely used up and new wood needs to be cycled in to carry on the quality of the release. Every barrel ages and impacts a whisky differently, hence my interest in seeing the quality of the releases which incorporate some of the newer wood. How does it compare? I was curious, especially after what I thought was the relatively lacklustre Batch D.
Here is a legend of a Canadian whisky, near impossible to find now (you’d have to find someone still with a bottle willing to give up) – the first batch of Forty Creek Confederation Oak. It was the first whisky to be matured in Canadian oak in the modern era, and was originally a limited release from Forty Creek before it was put into regular production – crafted from trees which whisky maker John Hall himself bought (a bit more background on my post of Batch B). This sample was graciously sent to me by a friend, who gave me the last half oz of his bottle (#548) which had been open more than 4 years, so oxygen has done some work on this, but here is the review of the sample.
I had brought a bottle of this back from New Hampshire to Ontario, which unfortunately got crushed in the suitcase, but a friend was kind enough to send a sample on to me. This whisky is another beauty from the stocks of Canadian “flavouring” whiskies – strongly flavoured whiskies used as flavouring components in blends. More of these are being released as the connoisseur market is growing. This whisky is made very much like a bourbon – it has a recipe of 64% corn, 31.5% rye, and 4.5% malted barley, and is matured in new oak for around 7 years. At present, these are being released as single barrels.
I’ve been waiting on this whisky a while. In 2012, Corby released two whiskies (Lot no. 40 and Pike Creek) from what was known as the Canadian whisky guild – a series of three whiskies in the 1990s developed by Corby shortly after they took over management of Hiram Walker distillery in Windsor (the largest beverage alcohol plant in North America). There were three, very different whiskies – the bold, 100% rye Lot. no. 40, the spicy/fruity port-finished Pike Creek, and the softer and complex Gooderham & Worts. Gooderham & Worts has just been released this year, in 2015, and completes the three which only lasted a few years due to lack in sales. This, really, was too bad because the whiskies were creative works coming from the distillers for connoisseurs – but the market wasn’t ready. Now, with the huge expansion in the category, the market is ready and the whiskies are out here for all of us that can access them.
Old Pulteney is the northernmost mainland distillery in the UK on the mainland (overall, Highland Park wins out). The distillery produces a number of age statement products, a 12, 17, and 21 year old along with a number of no age statement travel retail products. The distillery is quite small overall, The town of Wick sprung up around fishing, and was the herring fishing capital of Europe resulting in a rich maritime tradition in the town – a tradition the distillery often tries to honor through its limited bottlings. The distillery is fairly small (1 million litres per annum), yet still is quite widely distributed worldwide, though bottlings can be hard to find at times.