Last November The Organiser of the Canadian Whisky Awards , Author of the Canadian Whisky: The Portable Expert , Webmaster of canadianwhisky.org , all round good Egg and Long time Friend Davin de Kergommeaux invited me to be one of the judges in the 2019 CWA’s . Loving Canadian Whisky as i do , it was a huge Honour to be asked back for the 3rd year running to participate . It was also a very daunting task to taste blind 111 whiskies in about 4 weeks…….
We don’t get to know what whisky is what until after the Awards Ceremony has taken place at The Victoria Whisky Festival in British Columbia in January , you can see this years results HERE . Congratulations to Davin on another sucessful Awards , it’s growing stronger year by year , I’m sure nexts years 10th Anniversary will be the best yet ! Here are a few notes i’ve made from a some of this years entrants , more to follow in the future…..
Lot No. 40 11yo Caskstrength Second Edition 58.4%
A Limited edition of 4020 Bottles , I love the standard edition (which is available in the UK) unfortunately this one isn’t available in the UK ( wish it was , how about it Corby ?) . Where do i begin with this one ? A lovely Amber colour , The nose is a lovely hot rye bread toast with butter sprinkled with a multitude of ground spices there is a nice oakiness about it with a touch of vanilla in the background . To say that you can sit and sniff this for an eternity is an understatement……..
The Rye hit on the palate is unbelievable , huge doesn’t do it justice ! There is a fruitiness sitting alongside the Rye , The spices bounce along hand in hand with the rye , bottling it at 58.4% lifts Lot No.40 to another level . The finish is extremely long , it goes on and on and on…… It gives us all that was experienced on the nose and palate .
By now you may have gathered that i like this…… This may just be Rye Whisky at it’s Greatest , another dram ? Go on, go on , go on…….. (Many Thanks to Paul for getting me a bottle of this !)
Forty Creek 22yo Rye
Just announced as ‘Whisky of the Year’ and ‘Best Rye’ in the 2019 Canadian Whisky Awards , I’ve enjoyed a lot of Forty Creeks releases since i started my journey into Canadian Whisky . Slightly reserved nose at first compared to the Lot No.40 CS , then eventually the Rye bursts through , more refined than the previous bust ya nose CS , a beautiful rye sensation , not as spicy but extremely well balanced on the nose . Silky smooth across the palate , lots of rye , oak spices and caramel . The finish is medium – long with toffee / Millionaires Shortbread and a slight rye bitterness .
A thoroughly enjoyable dram , more relaxed than the Lot no.40 CS (after all it is twice the age ) , Recommended !
Canadian Club 41yo
Canadian Club is a funny one in the UK , for many a long year this was the only ‘Canadian’ you could get here and usually it was drowned with a mixer (reminds me of the old joke …. Dean Martin saw a sign saying ‘Drink Canada Dry , so he did…..) .
Now this on the other hand is a serious dram ( Connoisseur Whisky of the Year [domestic] in the 2019 CWA’s ) , The nose is so relaxed , if it was anymore relaxed it would be horizontal , everything i’d expect from a Canadian – butterscotch , corn , very subtle spices and a distant oak . The palate is smooth as a babys bum , surprisingly there seems to be an excess of grain , a bit more spiciness than the nose but it is very balanced and slides across the tongue no bother . The Finish is probably the best bit , it is so long and complex , rye , grain , spiciness….. exceptional !
A marvellous dram , does the Country proud !
This one won Connoisseur Whisky of the Year [Multi market] at this years CWA’s . This is the oldest whisky Wiser’s have released , from ex-bourbon barrels i believe , i do like their releases , the 18 being a particular favourite . This has a very good complexity and balance on the nose , a light rye , butterscotch and grain . There is also a slight fruitiness . The palate is graceful , all of the nose with an added spiciness . As Austin (Powers) would say ‘Yeah Baby !’ , The finish is long and spicy and surprisingly chewy (i.e. it makes you want to chew when you’ve got nothing to chew on…..) .
Another excellent aged Canadian , goes down extremely well with Side 2 of 2112 !
Gooderhams and Worts ‘Eleven Souls’
This one won Best Blended Whisky of the Year this year , I’ve enjoyed the 2 previous G&W releases (both have been available in the UK) ‘Four Grains’ and ‘Little Trinity’ . The reason for it’s name ? Apparently Eleven different whisky components were blended for this release using various distillation methods and five grains (malted and unmalted rye, Brasetto rye, red winter wheat, malted and unmalted barley and double-distilled corn whisky) aged in new white oak, ex bourbon casks or Canadian whisky casks….. Easy for you to say ! The nose is very complex (with the above recipe so it should be !) lots of grain and rye , butterscotch and oak . The palate has added spiciness and a very good balance , the finish is long and complex .
If this became available in the UK i definitely go for it , a lovely addition to the G&W range !
Shelter Point Montford DL 46%
(Award of Excellence – Innovation winner) Shelter Point is Based on Vancouver Island and was established in 2011 . This is a Single Grain bottled at 46% . The nose in fudge going on Butterscotch , There’s almost a Christmassy cake feel to it , Dried fruits / Cake dough . The palate has again a christmas cake feel to it , it is quite chewy , toffee , Spices (mostly of the oak type) and silky smooth . The finish is long and sweet (honey) , Spicy , Actually it has a finish that is very akin to Amrut !
A really nice dram that if i’m being honest i’d never heard of….. Not your usual Canadian but up there with the best !
Alumni Whisky Series Wendel Clark
This is from a series celebrating Local (Ontario ? ) Ice Hockey Players and Supports the retired Players Community . 100% Rye bottled at 41.6% after 11 years in ex-bourbon barrels . Yup the nose is rye , Gotta love 100% rye ! Hot buttered rye toast along with Spices , On the palate the rye theme continues with avengence , Wood spices and a great chewiness , this rolls across the mouth beautifully . The finish is gorgeous well long , pepper and spices and a nice oakiness .
This dram is incredible , i loved Lot No.40 when i tried it (still do !) , i was gobsmacked by Lot No.40 CS when i finally got to try it , this falls somewhere in between , another one i’d happily part good money with for a bottle or 6……
Alumni Whisky Series Lanny McDonald
Another one dedicated to a former Hockey player , this one is ‘Wheat Forward’ (which i take it means there’s more wheat in the Blend….) . matured for 9 years and bottled at 40% . the nose is very subtle , a touch of oak , spices and is quite dry , the plate comes in a bit stronger , again spicy , a little bit sweet (honey ?) a touch of fruit and sawdust . The finish is long with a big Rye hit and Spices , another cracking dram !
Another one i’d probaly go for if i was ‘Local’ to it’s release .
North of 7 4 Grain
From Ottawa’s First Distillery , this comprises of whisky distilled from 4 Grains (Corn, Wheat, Rye and Barley) , Simples ! Bottled at 45% it is a delightful Dark amber colour in the glass , The nose is quite complex , the usual ‘Canadian’ , fudge toffee , vanilla , saw dust , rye and spices . On the palate we have more of the same followed by a very long Rye finish with pepper and cask spices .
A very delightful dram , carrying on a great Canadian tradition .
Shelter Point Double Barreled Single Malt 50%
As the name suggests this has been finished in a second cask , after 6 and a half years in American Oak the whisky is transfered to French oak wine barrels (Previously holding Quails’ Gate Pinot Noir ) for 1993 Hours (!?!?) . Needless to say the nose starts off very fruity then turns into a delicious hot buttered toast , a touch of wood spices follows . The palate starts of with Fresh Cream Apple Turnover then progesses to dark berries with spices . The finish is long , peppery , chewy and once again it reminds me of Amrut , which definitely isn’t a bad thing !
I’m impressed with this lots output !
Wayne Gretzky No.99 Red Cask Whisky
(Whisky Value Domestic Winner) Based in Niagara on the Lake (Lovely place , been there , beautiful old town surround by lots of winerys , hoping to return one day…..) Wayne Gretzky is (according to the Google Search….) a retired Ice Hockey Player who opened a winery that has open a distillery in it but the brand is now owned by Andrew Peller (who owns Peller Estates – a very fine producer of Wine) ! The spirit consists of Malted Rye, Unmalted Rye and Corn matured for 3 years in ex-bourbon barrels before being finished in Gretzky wine casks for an undisclosed period . The nose is fruity , primerially dark fruits , the rye is well hidden but it is there , along with vanilla and toffee . The rye burst through on the palate along with a soft fruitiness , sawdust and wood spices . The finish is decent enough , medium , rye and pepper .
A very respectable dram , one for a good session , thoroughly enjoyable !
Black Velvet Onyx
A 12yo bottled at 40% and apparently available in the UK……. Strong on the rye on the nose (no complaints from me….) but has all the other Canadian redeeming features ( toffee , Vanilla etc ) , The palate is silky smooth (which is what they boast ) and very subtle , nice balance of the well known traits of this type of whisky . The finish is short but extremely pleasant .
For anyone trying Canadian whisky for the first time this would be a good place to start , giving you an idea of what to expect in the future but with a beautiful smooth taste . Excellent dram for the beginner and a nice easy sipper for the well seasoned dramster .