by Darcy O'Neil on December 2010
The Seagram's brand has a long history in the whisky market. Seagram’s VO is a very common whisky in North America and many bartenders use it on their rails, since it is the whisky included in the "Diageo rail" (Captain Morgan white rum, Tanqueray gin, Smirnoff vodka). It seems every bar I work at uses the same products, Diageo must have some good rebates.
Anyway, Seagram's VO has a long history stretching back to 1913 and was probably a commonly bootlegged product through US prohibition. So what does this 6 year old Canadian whisky have to offer? Before we do the tasting, we should look at some of the history of this company.
The Seagram’s company started in 1857 as the Granite Mills and Waterloo Distillery company. In 1864 Joseph Seagram came into the picture and eventually became his name sake company in 1911. Prohibition in the United States was enacted in 1920 and spurred the sale of Canadian whisky in the United States. In 1928 the Bronfman’s came into the picture and continued the “bootlegging” of alcohol to the US. Once prohibition ended, the Seagram’s company had large reserved of whisky ready for the American market. This is one of the biggest reasons Canadian whisky was, and is, so popular in the US. Seagram’s VO was created in 1913 to celebrate the marriage of Thomas Seagram. The initials “VO” meaning is not well documented but could mean either “very old” or “very own”.
Seagrams VO Tasting: Neat
Pale gold in colour. Subtle sweet nose with a little bit of alcohol harshness.
Very smooth start. Not too much flavour, except some subtle grains, slight sweetness and a bit of oak. There is a bit of charred oak in the finish. Smooth with no real bite. Nothing exceptional going on here. The finish is fairly short with a very subtle bitterness in the back of the throat. Not bad, but not worth contemplating beside a fireplace.
Like all the descriptive terms, this is a very light Canadian whisky, close to brown vodka. This is a lowest common denominator whisky, hence its popularity. It won’t offend anyone with it’s subtle taste, but it isn’t something you can brag about. Good entry point for whisky rookies and newcomers. If you like VO but are looking for something a bit different, you might want to try Schenly OFC which is an 8 year old Canadian whisky with a similar smoothness, but still unique.