Canada Day Whiskey tasting – June 25, 2015

June 25, 2015
Shawn Young

There is no better way I can celebrate Canada day than sipping on Canadian whiskey with friends. Of course being a beer guy, beer might be one of those “other” better ways, but our Canada Day Beer Tasting isn’t until Tuesday so just forget about that! The Canadian Whiskey tasting was a fun and intimate tasting, with some really great people. We talked whiskey, sipped whiskey, and ate some tasty snacks. Can you think of a better way to start your night? I think not (again, forget about that whole beer thing… for another day or two).

I chose the evening’s lineup attempting to highlight value as well as quality and considering Canadian whiskey, I had too many choices! We have so many good values, I found myself juggling choices before settling on the following:

Alberta Premium Rye

It can’t get much more Albertan right? I mean it’s right there in the name… and it’s premium! All joking aside though, this is one of the few Canadian whiskeys made with 100% rye (and one of three we tasted tonight), and the depth of the grain is certainly present in this super affordable spirit. Aromas of citrus zest and nuts give way to more fruit notes, spice, and a sweet grain tones. ($24.99)

Crown Royal Monarch

A wonderful release in honor of the 75th anniversary of the brand. The age of the whiskey is not given, but at least a portion of it was distilled in Crown Royal’s one of a kind (in North America) Coffey still. A fair amount more spice than the flagship CR, and a much richer palate, with rye bread and a good amount of oak on the nose. The palate boasts caramelized sugars, barrel char, and more oaky spice, with a bit more breadiness. ($69.99)

Alberta Premium Dark Horse

This is a whiskey that pushes the legal boundaries of “Canadian whiskey” with 10% bourbon and 1% Oloroso sherry added for depth and richness. Don’t let that scare you away though, the result turned out to be a real favorite for cocktail bartenders and sippers alike. The whiskey has a moderate sweetness, and a soft texture along with flavors of dried fruits, and dry spices such as anise and nutmeg. ($32.99)

40 Creek Confederation Oak Reserve

About as Canadian as it gets! This is a marriage of corn, rye, and barley spirits, aged separately in ex bourbon oak then married in Canadian white oak for finishing. Delicate and nutty with vanilla and caramel aromas, and creamy, nutty flavors with char, pepper. ($65.99)

Wiser’s Red Letter Day

A tribute whiskey to J.P. Wiser, this whiskey is at least 10 years old and was matured in bourbon oak, finished in virgin American oak, and it’s one of the few Canadian whiskeys that is not chill filtered. Aromas of vanilla, corn sugars, new oak, and spice come out of the glass. The palate is a little on the sweet side, with cinnamon, nutmeg, and candy berries and cream (think Campino candies), and long vanilla and toffee in the finish. ($109.99)

Stalk & Barrel Rye

This 100% rye is done in a pot still and aged in ex bourbon oak. Stillwater distillery practices distilling “on the grain” which allows for greater extraction of flavor and richness from the mash. Some of my favorite rye qualities are present in this spirit, such as dill, pepper, and dusty grain. The dill follows right through to the palate along with the youthful rye characteristics, more pepper, and a moderate sweetness and smooth, slightly honey like finish. ($68.99)

Lot 40 Rye

A 100% rye (95% raw, 5% malted), produced from a fabled small lot belonging to Hiram Walker himself. Sweet rye, orange, dill, and sourdough on the nose, and the palate brings strong wood characteristics, along with rye bread, citrus and vanilla. ($46.99)

The favorite of the night turned out to be the Wiser’s Red Letter Day, and I can’t say I blame the group as it was one of the most pleasant Canadian whiskeys I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. In second and third place came Lot 40 Rye and Alberta Premium, respectively. The Lot 40 is one of my personal favorites, and has been for a few years now, and at $47 it’s a steal! As a quick note, the Alberta Premium and Dark Horse were tasted blind, and the results were only moderately surprising. After all, they are superb spirits.

So there you have it! The best of our best! Don’t forget to pick a bottle of your favorite Canadian whiskey (or come pick up one of these!) and hoist a glass this Canada day in celebration of our fine country and all it represents!

Cheers!

- Shawn

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