I decided to share this evening with some high octane Canadians. I started with C.C. 100, followed by Black Velvet 102, then Hirsch 12yo Single Cask 53.1%, and wrapped up with Century Reserve 21 120 proof. There is something special about high proof spirits. Somehow it seems purer, more enticing. Many of us eagerly seek out cask strength Single Malt Scotch and BIB or high proof Bourbon. Why should Canadian whisky be left out of the party?
Anyone who thinks Canadian Whisky is anemic, should try these four back to back. They share the subdued bouquet common for Canadian, but uncommon for CS bottlings. There is also the oomph on the palate and the long finish, but there the similarity ends.
The CC 100 has the balance between grains and sweetness and bitterness with which I associate the brand, but with an extra dose of flavour.
The BV102 includes a strong note of sweet maple within it's intense full flavours.
The Hirsch 12 has the most beguiling nose of the four with complex notes in fine harmony. On the palate it begins with a pleasant cereal taste that evolves into a grainy sweetness then a full finish.
The Century Reserve 21 120 with only a few drops of water has a spirity nose of grain alcohol, lighter than I expected. Different from other Canadians, but vaguely like BPPR13 in over all aroma, but without the complex interplay of fruit and grain notes. Palate entry is slightly bitter with some heat. Mid-palate has sweet grain with a slight sour note. Somewhat like CC100. The wood is well balanced by the proof hiding some of those 21 years. The palate evolves nicely. Moderate cereally finish. Although obviously a high proof, I would not have guessed this to be 120 if tasted blind. With a healthy dose of water nose begins with a substantial bourbon note, then light spice in the background that evolves into a rye-like aroma (a bit like Lot 40). The mid-palate has balanced cereal sweetness with a little spicy rye and slight dryness near the end. Mouthfeel is pleasantly full even though diluted. The finish is smooth and well rounded with sweet grains--just as long diluted. This is certainly a very good whiskey. My expectations were quite high (CR, 21, CS, etc.), so my first impressions were a little disappointing. It doesn't exhibit the complexity that would make it "the" top Canadian Whiskey, but it does evolve nicely over time and with water.
Why weren't Bush Pilot's or Century Reserve 15 available at cask strength?