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Gillman
10-31-2007, 09:27
I'd like to make some general comments which seem to justify a separate thread.

I agree that just because a whisky is called small batch or a similar name, it isn't necessarily better than a regular-issue whisky.

I have favourites amongst the regular line up of Canadian makers including Royal Reserve, some of the older Canadian Clubs, of course Barrel Select, and Crown Royal's Special Reserve. None of these are small batch as such although some may be made up that way.

Some of the small batch group are very good, e.g., Danfield's Private Reserve (there is also a 21 year old version). I like the Centennial line-up too. But some whiskies identified as small batch or with a similar phrase seem rather ordinary.

Of the premium brands, Wiser's Very Old, which is aged 18 years in wood, is I think one of the best. It has a rich, woody and fruity taste but is not tannic whereas I get a tannic edge in, say, the XR version of CR which contains some well-aged whisky stocks from the long-closed Waterloo distillery of Seagram.

In the end, personal preference will rule and the only way to scope the range is to try out the new brands. Sometimes they disappoint, e.g., Wiser put out a Family Reserve version a couple of years ago, at 43% abv, which is okay but in my view not that much different from its regular line (excepting the 18 years version mentioned). However, its new Red Letter is very full-flavored, you really do get something extra in this case.

So, no really logical approaches to suggest other than trying the new brands as they come onstream, and of course the existing brands where not previously tasted, to see what you like and where you think an ideal price/value point is. By the way Gibson can be very good, of the recent new releases there is one finished in new oak and the other in a scotch cask that used to hold bourbon, I prefer the latter. (It has no age expression as I recall). Gibson also makes an older blend called Rare, which is somewhat similar to Wiser's Very Old.

I think the Canadian segment finally is moving in a positive direction. The plethora of small batch and other new releases is only to the good. The next step in my view is to issue the flavoring whiskies uncut. This would be a nod both to history and palate. We have seen Lot 40, an interesting look at this portfolio, but it would be great to see many more released. I am referring to the ones made in-house in particular.

Gary

jinenjo
10-31-2007, 12:20
Gary,

I enjoy reading of your musings on Canadian Whisky. I must say I'm more interested than ever in tasting some soon, although as you may know several are not available in the US market (yet).

Perhaps I'll pick up some Forty Creek Barrel Select (and would like to see the small batch available too). Lot 40 sounds quite intriguing, although I'm not sure that's available. It is Wiser's label, no? Finally, the CR Special Reserve is one to try as well.

Cheers,

Gillman
10-31-2007, 12:24
Thanks, and note also Crown Royal Cask No. 16 (brandy cask-finished).

Lot 40 is (or was) a Corby product, and the Corby line has been made for some time now in Walkerville where CC is made (Wiser's too).

Canadian whisky has its own approach, it is milder than bourbon but more than aged GNS due to the 10-20% straight whiskies that "flavor" it.

There are times I'll have one instead of bourbon, but it is the exception not the rule. Still, some occasions seem to warrant it (e.g., with a beer, late at night, etc.).

Forty Creek is excellent, especially its Barrel Select. I have the new Small Batch but find it on its own quite intense (a polished wood-like taste). I add a little to Barrel Select and then all is well. :) It is all the same whiskies, but Small Batch has some that are older than what goes into Barrel Select, so again it just works out very well. I do other minglings of all-Canadian too, e.g., the CR one I mentioned recently. You can get some rich, fused flavours that way. And if it needs more straight whiskey, just add some! Easy as a charm. The average bunker here probably offers more creative opportunities for blending Canadian-style than the industrial bunkers maintained by the big Canadian distillers.

Gary

jinenjo
10-31-2007, 12:45
I forgot to mention how much I enjoy hearing of your home-vattings of any type of whiskey. Perhaps they could be compiled into a single thread. Or, better yet, a book!:cool:

Gillman
10-31-2007, 12:46
Thanks, obviously it is a passion although (and no one should mistake that) I get down my share of bourbon and straight rye just as it comes from the source. :)

Gary

Megawatt
10-31-2007, 15:44
Some comments of my own:

The two Gibson's bottles that you speak of are actually both classified as Rare Reserve (New Oak and Bourbon Cask). The 18yr. bottle is simply called Gibson's Rare, if I'm not mistaken. I just found out that the LCBO raised the price of this whisky from $40 to $45, which pisses me off because I should have grabbed it when it was cheaper. I guess they see other companies (Forty Creek, Danfield's) fetching $50 or $60 for their premium bottles, so they raised their price accordingly. I bet that Wiser's will soon follow suit with their Very Old whisky.

I'm sipping on some Danfield's Private Reserve right now. It's pretty good, but rather typical in its flavour. I find it to be somewhere between Wiser's Reserve and Canadian Club Classic, a bit sweeter than the former but not so much as the latter. Certainly not bad for the price...

I think the best Canadian whisky I have had to date is Alberta Premium Limited Edition (25 yrs.). Unlike Forty Creek Barrel Select and Danfiel's Private Reserve, the AP 25 was every bit as good as the rave reviews promised, right form the first sip. I'm not knocking those otehr whiskies, but when all of these consumers and renowned experts heap such praise on them, my expectations tend to be quite high. The AP 25 is incredibly smooth, with a subtle, creamy sweetness, and has none of the typical butter toffee flavour that is found in many other Canadians. And at $30 a bottle, it is almost too good to be true. Just my opinion...

Am I the only one who finds that Crown Royal Special Reserve has a decidedly herbal taste? It almost struck me as a pre-mixed Manhatten (though my version of the Manhatten uses very little vermouth, mind you). Interesting stuff...

I was told by a manager at my local LCBO that Canadian whisky companies are looking to latch onto the surging popularity of single-malt Scotch with all of these premium expressions.

Gillman
10-31-2007, 18:50
I think you are right, again thanks, there is Bourbon Cask, New Oak and Gibson Rare. We are all talking about the same 3 but you have the names right. Gibson Rare is good but I still feel Wiser's Very Old bests it, and at less money again if memory serves.

Wiser's Very Old has a kind of seal at the bottom stating "18 years old". This is what I meant when I was referring in some of the earlier posts to Wiser's Oldest and I fixed those where I could (in the interest of accuracy and for people reading them later), so thanks again.

Gary

jinenjo
10-31-2007, 21:23
I think the best Canadian whisky I have had to date is Alberta Premium Limited Edition (25 yrs.). [...] And at $30 a bottle, it is almost too good to be true. Just my opinion...


Is any Canadian Sb.com'er willing to trade or ship this? I've been dying to try it.

I wish it were in the US!

Megawatt
11-01-2007, 05:04
Is any Canadian Sb.com'er willing to trade or ship this? I've been dying to try it.

I wish it were in the US!

I would like to help you, but I'm not sure if it is possible. I'm no expert when it comes to exporting, but I do know that the 2001 Bioterrorism Act has made it extraordinarily difficult to export food items (including alcohol) to the US. I once tried to ship a gift basket (maple syrup, Tim Horton's coffee, Niagara icewine, etc.) to a US vendor of ours, and I actually had to give up because there were too many roadblocks in the customs process.

jburlowski
11-01-2007, 14:56
Forty Creek is excellent, especially its Barrel Select.

Gary

Forty Creek is the only one of the Canadians that I find myself going back to with any regularity.

Megawatt
11-01-2007, 15:11
Forty Creek is the only one of the Canadians that I find myself going back to with any regularity.

Strange that I wasn't as impressed with this whisky as others seem to be. I finished a bottle of it and to the last drop, the foremost flavour I discerned was alcohol. Mind you, I was just coming off of a bourbon kick, so probably any Canadian whisky would have tasted just as bland to me. I decided to give it another go after a while, and I definitely enjoyed the second bottle more. I find it to be hot and almost coppery on the nose.

Frodo
11-01-2007, 15:12
Is any Canadian Sb.com'er willing to trade or ship this? I've been dying to try it.

Thought I'd give a balancing voice to all the praise I've heard heaped on this expression.

I bought 6 bottles of Alberta Premium 25 when it first became available at the LCBO because of all the hype (and I wanted to be sure I had some bunkered). Also bought some regular Alberta Premium NAS to compare it to. Yes I found it miles ahead of the regular NAS. All the reviews I heard mentioned it was "smooth as cognac" or some such. I found it rather harsh for a 25yr old. Not bad, but not great. Got rid of the rest of my bottles and forced one down. Got used to it a bit, but Alberta Premium has this acetone flavour that seems to be part of the house character - much more promemant in the NAS version than the 25yr old.

One of the reasons it may taste different is that all the whiskies in the blends are made from rye. Interesting in that I've tried both Rittenhouse and Old Overholt (thanks Gary) but this stuff I just can't get into. Lots of people seem to like this stuff a lot. And the price tag ($30 cdn) on a 25yr old whisky is significantly low. But I should point out that perhaps partly because of the use of rye by Alberta Distillers it does taste different from other Cdn whiskies. And different in a way that doesn't speak to me.

jinenjo
11-01-2007, 23:58
Interesting thoughts, gentlemen.

Still wouldn't mind trying some of my own.

Eventually, perhaps soon, I'll pick up some FC Barrel Select.

Rughi
11-02-2007, 22:08
Interesting thoughts, gentlemen.

Still wouldn't mind trying some of my own.

Eventually, perhaps soon, I'll pick up some FC Barrel Select.

Or you could ask a friend who's coming over soon, say this Sunday for instance, to bring a bottle of it along.

Roger

Frodo
11-08-2007, 18:56
Tried a sample of Wiser's Red Letter Whisky which is a limited edition Wisers. THE most impressive cdn whisky I've had to date! Overpriced at $150 IMHO, but very polished while strategicly leaving some unpolished bits for character. Nice (judicious) use of new oak. The Canadian answer to JW Blue!

Megawatt
11-09-2007, 04:59
Tried a sample of Wiser's Red Letter Whisky which is a limited edition Wisers. THE most impressive cdn whisky I've had to date! Overpriced at $150 IMHO, but very polished while strategicly leaving some unpolished bits for character. Nice (judicious) use of new oak. The Canadian answer to JW Blue!

You're a lucky guy!

Frodo
11-09-2007, 13:58
Well, lucky in that Toronto has tasting towers that I can try samples for a (very) moderate fee...