Lot 40, the Canadian rye whisky, was released a few years ago, part of an Allied Domecq/Hiram Walker small batch line up which included Pike Creek and Gooderham & Worts whiskies. I had not seen Lot 40 for about 2 years in Ontario and assumed it was withdrawn permanently. This is not so, it is back - and much better than the first release. The first release was "funky", holding big notes of lychee and "floor wax".
The new Lot 40 has a clean, fresh nose disclosing grainy, spicy notes with a mild overlay of sherry or other fruited addition. Possibly it is aged in sherry casks, for part of the maturation anyway. The sherry or other fruity element smooths down the whisky in a good way, preserving some of the waxy, grainy, spicy notes, but melding them into a pleasing result which in effect is a fine Canadian straight rye whisky. The use of copper pot stills clearly qualifies this as a straight-type whisky, i.e., distilled at relatively low proof and showing flavour as a result. This is a rich tangy whisky that has excellent, assertive taste but within a Canadian tradition, i.e., there is no big char effect. The label of the newly released version indicates, as the old one did, that it is made from malted rye and small grains. The latter are almost certainly corn and possibly some barley or barley malt. The current Lot 40 is somewhat like Old Overholt in style but the sherry overlay and lack of charred flavour really distance it even from that excellent whiskey.
I don't know if this version is the same as the original one, just given a couple of extra years aging in sherry wood, or is a different vatting or formulation from that first one.
The label and bottle design are identical to what was used for the first release. I don't think it is possible, except for production codes on the labels I can't decipher, to tell which is old and which is new. The original one was released in limited supply, as no doubt for this one, so I would think most bottles on the market now are the current issue especially as it's been a while since Lot 40 was available in Canada.
Finally, a Canadian rye whisky that really offers traditional straight whisky taste! Thirty three dollars Canadian, and well worth it. I know what I'm bringing to the Sampler for Festival '04