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.
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.
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.
This whisky is another move towards more rye grain in Canadian whisky, where Wiser’s has decided to blend together two 100% rye whiskies together – one from a column still distilled and one from a copper pot still distilled to a higher ABV relatively. These are two of the main “flavouring” whiskies at Wiser’s – the column still whisky and the copper pot whisky, which is the column still whisky redistilled in a copper pot to a higher alcohol content. Apparently, the column whisky is heavier on the grain characteristic of the rye and the copper pot whisky is heavier on the spice characteristic of rye.
This whisky was matured in a bourbon barrel and is a fine example of some solid old Canadian corn whisky, as we’ve seen in Highwood products. This whisky was from a single cask, aged 24 years, purchased originally from the Potter’s Whisky Broker. The bottle comes in at 56.5% (cask strength), and was released in February of 2014 – only 126 bottles were released. Again, this was a whisky tasted due to the generosity of a friend at a tasting this summer.
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.