Canadian Whisky Month
by Darcy O'Neil on March 2011
Every time I go to the liquor store the Canadian whisky sections stands out quite prominently. I personally like the Canadian style of whisky, and that character is smooth with slight toffee sweetness and hints of fruit on the nose, balanced out by some spicy rye and oak flavours. There is a vast array of Canadian whisky brands to choose from, but the question on my mind has been whether there is much difference in the style and taste between the brands. Does Gibson's Finest 12 Year Old taste much different than Crown Royal? What about the whisky called Schenley OFC, is it any good? How about Royal Reserve and Wiser's? Well, I'm finally going to find out and I will be reviewing twelve Canadian whiskies (listed below) in the $20 to $30 per 26'er (750ml) range. All funds are in Canadian dollars.
There are a couple of missing brands that I should probably look at, like Black Velvet and Canadian Mist. The funny thing is that it is hard to find Canadian Mist, in Canada, in anything lest that a 40 oz bottle. Also, it's sale has been discontinued at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO aka the liquor store). They must be focussing on the US market. I live only a couple of hours from the distillery, so if I'm ever in the area I'll pick up a bottle since it is the top selling Canadian whisky in the USA. I find it a little ironic that the best selling Canadian whisky in the US isn't available in Canada.
Anyway, I've already done a good portion of the leg work and tasted most of the whiskies, made notes and compared them to what I'm now going to refer to as the "standard" which is Crown Royal. I figure for everyone to get an appreciation there needs to be something common that everyone can identify with. I'm also thinking about using Jameson Irish whiskey and Jack Daniels as other reference points. Personally I'm not a big fan of Jack Daniels, but it is common enough for most people to know what it tastes like.
For each review I will provide some history on the company and the whisky being reviewed. I'll give you my personal impression and potential applications for the spirit. For example is it worthy of being made into a Manhattan, or is Coke / Pepsi it's best chance of getting consumed. When I taste these brands, I usually start with ½ an ounce of whisky, neat, in a whisky tasting glass (tulip shaped). I usually have another glass with Crown Royal, neat, in it to compare. After I do the tasting neat, I leave a small amount in the glass to see if it opens up. I find that after five, or so, minutes a whole new aroma arrives. On a separate day I will taste the whisky with a few drops of water to see what happens.
These are the whiskies that are currently being reviewed. If anyone has suggestions or requests, please let me know and I'll do my best to answer the request.
Crown Royal Special Reserve
Forty Creek Barrel Select
Alberta Premium 100% Rye
Danfield's Private Reserve
Tangle Ridge Rye
Gibson Finest 12
Canadian Club 12
Walker's Special Old
I should be posting a new review every couple of days.