Gibsons New Oak Whisky
While I was on an unsupervised trip to the liquor store, I came across an interesting find. First, when it comes to the liquor store, I have a need to try everything, so my wife usually watches over me. But she went away this weekend, so that meant a shopping spree! Well, just a trip to the LCBO and selecting something new. Of course she reads this blog, so consider this my confession. Anyway, it looks like Gibson’s is releasing a couple of new whisky products that are based on different barrels. The first, and the one I picked up, is whisky aged in new oak barrels and the second one is aged in used scotch / bourbon barrels. The reason I selected the “new oak” was to see if it had a bourbon characteristic. The complete name is “Gibson’s Finest Rare Reserve New Oak Canadian Whisky”, which if not the longest whisky name is at least the most buzz word compliant.
Currently, there is no information on this product from the company that owns Gibson’s (William Grant & Sons). But, the bottle states that the whisky is aged in “first fill new oak casks” and results in a unique expression with sweet vanilla and a smoky nose. As many people know, bourbon is produced in first fill new oak barrels, so the Gibson product seems to be taking some notes on the increasing popularity of bourbon. The only difference then would be the mash bill. Now, they may just take the standard Gibsons Finest and put it in these new oak barrels, or they could mix up the mash bill, but that would only be a guess.
Gibson’s Finest Rare Reserve New Oak Canadian Whisky
Colour: Straw / light gold. Not as deep in colour as Buffalo Trace Bourbon. In the picture the "New Oak" is in the centre, Buffalo Trace is on the eft and on the right is Gibosn's Finest 12 Year.
Aroma: Basically it has a light bourbon whiskey aromas with hints of vanilla and smoke. Again, slightly similar to the Buffalo Trace whiskey, but with less corn on the nose and a smoother / lighter aroma.
Palate: On the first sip you get vanilla and oak with moderate sweetness, just as advertised. There is some alcohol heat, but is still smooth, in the spirit of Canadian whisky. The finish is long, pleasant and spicy with charcoal and smoke. The middle is a little lacking, but the start and finish have lots of character. A little bit of water really smooths the whisky out and brings out a lot more of the charcoal and a little bit of that Canadian toffee.
The Gibsons New Oak Whisky is definitely different than Gibsons standard offerings (12 Year). The Gibsons 12 Year is sweeter, with more toffee and vanilla, where as the “New Oak” has more of a bourbon touch with lots of heavy char oak and vanilla. This is a good addition to the Gibson’s whisky product line and gives them some product variation, to appeal to consumers with varying tastes. The Gibsons New Oak Whisky sits somewhere between a Canadian whisky and a bourbon whiskey.
My personal opinion is that this is a pretty good whisky and I’d rate it very high when it comes to Canadian whiskies. I like the idea of a bolder Canadian style of whisky, and I like this product. Where this product differs from bourbon is that the flavour isn’t as bold and it doesn’t seem to contain as much corn in the blend. I’d say that this is the standard Gibson’s Finest mash bill, aged in new oak.
The other new offering from Gibsons is the “Bourbon Barrel” edition. On the label it says the whisky is aged in used Scotch Barrels, that were previously Bourbon Barrels. There are no age statements on the bottles, so these two whiskies would have a minimum age of three years (Canadian law), but could be more. My best guess would put them around 6 years.