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View Full Version : The Truth Behind Collingwood: Part American?



MacinJosh
07-01-2011, 21:44
Hello everyone,

While speaking with my buddy Rodney this evening, the subject of Collingwood Canadian Whisky came up. I remembered reading John Hansell's post (Lew Bryson's Review) at http://www.whatdoesjohnknow.com/2011/05/24/review-collingwood/ as well as Davin de Kergommeaux's at http://www.canadianwhisky.org/reviews/collingwood-40-alcvol-canadian-whisky-review.html. I even found some good info on SB at the following thread http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15423&highlight=Collingwood.

Yet Rodney divuldged something I found very interesting this evening that I did not read in any of the aforementioned posts. While touring the Woodford Reserve facility a few weeks ago, the tour guide informed the group they would now watch the bottling operation for Woodford Reserve. Unbeknownst to the tour guide, they were bottling none other than Collingwood Canadian Whisky and not Woodford Reserve. It was a very awkward moment for the tour guide to say the least. He quickly tried to divert the group's attention by declaring "If I could just get everyone's attention over here, we don't normally do this, but I will thief a small amount of Woodford Reserve for everyone to nose only. I can't permit you to sample it here. But have a smell." Clearly, this was a diversion attempt.

Rodney was informed that Woodford Reserve was contracted to perform the bottling for Collingwood due to its similar bottle shape in that the Woodford Reserve facility's equipment would be compatible. The tour guide was visibly emabarassed, upset, and annoyed that Collingwood was there. The feeling Rodney got was there is a tremendous sense of Woodford Reserve pride and exclusivity about the distillery that has been infiltrated by a Canadian Whisky.

If Collingwood is indeed bottled at the Woodford Reserve facility and is bottled at less than cask strength, specifically at 80 proof, this raises an obvious question.

I sincerely doubt that truck loads of Great Lake water are being shipped down to Kentucky. Therefore, is Collingwood Canadian Whisky cut down to 80 proof by the local Kentucky municipal water supply?

That's our theory anyway. Looking forward to any insight Davin, John, Lew, Chuck, or anyone else can provide.

Cheers!
Josh

Davindek
07-02-2011, 04:42
Hello everyone,

While speaking with my buddy Rodney this evening, the subject of Collingwood Canadian Whisky came up. I remembered reading John Hansell's post (Lew Bryson's Review) at http://www.whatdoesjohnknow.com/2011/05/24/review-collingwood/ as well as Davin de Kergommeaux's at http://www.canadianwhisky.org/reviews/collingwood-40-alcvol-canadian-whisky-review.html. I even found some good info on SB at the following thread http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15423&highlight=Collingwood.

Yet Rodney divuldged something I found very interesting this evening that I did not read in any of the aforementioned posts. While touring the Woodford Reserve facility a few weeks ago, the tour guide informed the group they would now watch the bottling operation for Woodford Reserve. Unbeknownst to the tour guide, they were bottling none other than Collingwood Canadian Whisky and not Woodford Reserve. It was a very awkward moment for the tour guide to say the least. He quickly tried to divert the group's attention by declaring "If I could just get everyone's attention over here, we don't normally do this, but I will thief a small amount of Woodford Reserve for everyone to nose only. I can't permit you to sample it here. But have a smell." Clearly, this was a diversion attempt.

Rodney was informed that Woodford Reserve was contracted to perform the bottling for Collingwood due to its similar bottle shape in that the Woodford Reserve facility's equipment would be compatible. The tour guide was visibly emabarassed, upset, and annoyed that Collingwood was there. The feeling Rodney got was there is a tremendous sense of Woodford Reserve pride and exclusivity about the distillery that has been infiltrated by a Canadian Whisky.

If Collingwood is indeed bottled at the Woodford Reserve facility and is bottled at less than cask strength, specifically at 80 proof, this raises an obvious question.

I sincerely doubt that truck loads of Great Lake water are being shipped down to Kentucky. Therefore, is Collingwood Canadian Whisky cut down to 80 proof by the local Kentucky municipal water supply?

That's our theory anyway. Looking forward to any insight Davin, John, Lew, Chuck, or anyone else can provide.

Cheers!
Josh

Collingwood is distilled, matured, blended and then left for up to a year to marry. All of this is done in Canada. Then it is shipped to the U.S. at high strength for bottling. I do not know the exact source of the water that is used to bring it down to bottle strength, but it would be local (to the bottling plant). Since the water is purified, almost certainly using reverse osmosis, its source is not important.

Lake Huron/Georgian Bay water, drawn from Nottawasaga Bay, is used for all processes from mashing, to cutting the distillate to barrel strength, to cleaning and all other processes that could possibly affect the flavour.

It is common to ship high-strength Canadian whisky to the U.S. for bottling then add local water. These generally are whiskies that are not widely available in Canada. Why pay to ship water when it is just going to be purified anyway?

I can't fathom why a guide would be embarrassed to see Collingwood on the Woodford line. Perhaps your friend misinterpreted what he saw. Collingwood, like Canadian Mist, Jack Daniel's, Old Forester, Early Times and Woodford Reserve, is owned by Brown-Forman.

The primary market for Collingwood (and Canadian Mist) is in the U.S. Brown-Forman makes no bones about how proud it is of these whiskies, nor the fact that it bottles them in the U.S. B-F has a dedicated fleet of tanker trucks to carry the whisky from Canada to the U.S.

Davin

MacinJosh
07-02-2011, 12:42
Thanks so much for the insight Davin! I was unaware this was a typical practice, and my friend was very adamant the tour guide was trying to mask this fact. Who knows why.

I am curious though, why BF would pay to ship barrels to the US for bottling. Would it not be cheaper to just bottle them in Canada? Or is this because the primary market for this whisky is in the US so most the whisky would get shipped here anyway? And if the local water is passed through an RO system, it would make sense that it wouldn't add any additional flavor to the whisky.

Thanks again for the insight Davin.


Josh

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

macdeffe
07-02-2011, 12:54
This discussion is similar to discussions about scottish malt whiskies not even being matured at the distillery site. All Caol Ila is matured in the central belt and not on Islay

Ardbeg is matured on Islay but bottled and reduced in the central belt (if reduced)

The only thing I think is wrong is if the distilleries wants to hide this fact. I have visited around 70 distilleries and the anount of bullshit I have heard some guides say over the years is quite amusing. That said, things have changed the recent years, I think its because distilleries found out that a lot of their visitors knew a lo about whiskies. They still got a hard time telling you that chillfiltration doesnt affect the taste nor does e150 :-)

Steffen

craigthom
07-02-2011, 13:10
Thanks so much for the insight Davin! I was unaware this was a typical practice, and my friend was very adamant the tour guide was trying to mask this fact. Who knows why.

I am curious though, why BF would pay to ship barrels to the US for bottling. Would it not be cheaper to just bottle them in Canada? Or is this because the primary market for this whisky is in the US so most the whisky would get shipped here anyway? And if the local water is passed through an RO system, it would make sense that it wouldn't add any additional flavor to the whisky.

Thanks again for the insight Davin.


Josh

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

I think they probably shipped it in tanker trucks, not in barrels, and that's a lot cheaper than shipping the extra weight of the glass and water to the U.S.

BigRich
07-05-2011, 07:23
I think they probably shipped it in tanker trucks, not in barrels, and that's a lot cheaper than shipping the extra weight of the glass and water to the U.S.

My thoughts exactly.

Gillman
07-05-2011, 07:54
Personally I have no issue with bottling a product locally if only water (of any kind) is added.

Just as a regulation matter, I believe spirits imported to Canada in bulk, i.e., barrels or tanks, cannot be bottled here without being blended with Canadian spirits. This is why so many rums sold here state on the label they are a blend of Canadian and imported rum. In such cases, I understand the amount of Canadian rum added is often very small.

Gary

cowdery
07-05-2011, 10:04
Brown-Forman, which primarily makes Canadian Mist at the Collingwood Distillery, has no bottling facilities there. Everything is shipped to Kentucky in tankers, either trucks or rail (they use both). I'm not surprised they are using the line at Woodford for Collingwood, as it is a small line and only semi-automated whereas the big lines in Louisville are all big, fast, and completely automated.

The big deal for Collingwood Select is that it is finished with maple wood. I'm pretty sure the maple wood they use comes from the U.S. too.

Among Canadian whiskeys, Mist is barely sold in Canada. It was created primarily for the U.S. market.

I'm sure the whiskey is shipped at barrel proof and diluted for bottling at the bottling facility.

Canadian Club, by the way, is also bottled in Kentucky, at Jim Beam. That's probably just for U.S. consumption. I'm guessing they also bottle in Canada for what is sold there but I don't know that for sure. I do know that Canadian Mist is actually considered an import in Canada since none is bottled there.

This is a very common practice with blended scotch (not single malts), rum and tequila too. Beam bottles Sauza and Hornitos in Kentucky.

This is just bottling but about half of all California brandy is distilled in California from California-grown grapes but aged and eventually bottled in Kentucky, because that's where the barrels are.

There is nothing sneaky about any of this. It's all common knowledge.

wadewood
07-05-2011, 19:08
read my posts on "things tour guides say" - Some of them are not too well informed.

aaronbarker
07-05-2011, 21:32
Personally I have no issue with bottling a product locally if only water (of any kind) is added.

Just as a regulation matter, I believe spirits imported to Canada in bulk, i.e., barrels or tanks, cannot be bottled here without being blended with Canadian spirits. This is why so many rums sold here state on the label they are a blend of Canadian and imported rum. In such cases, I understand the amount of Canadian rum added is often very small.

Gary

I remember seeing a group of single malts listed in one of the recent "Whisky Bible" editions that were 99% single malt, 1% Canadian whisky. I wonder if the above statement explains such a ratio. Shipping single malts in bulk to bottle in Canada with a few drops of Canadian whisky to meet the regulations, interesting...

have fun,
aaron

craigthom
07-05-2011, 21:58
I guess someone who doesn't regularly see tanker trucks of Heaven Hill white dog every day wouldn't immediately think of shipping whiskey that way.

OK, don't know for a fact that those tankers with "Evan Williams" on the side heading south on I-65 are full of white dog, but I think it's a reasonable guess.

Gillman
07-06-2011, 05:16
I've been told by people familiar with rum bottling here that the percentage can be in that neighborhood. In the end I suppose it's a bit arbitrary, but since it is stated on the label, people know it isn't all "original", so the purpose such as it is of the regs is preserved, i.e., in a context where the latter don't lay down a precise minimum for the domestic content.

Gary