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  1. #1
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    Off-topic (Canadian Rye)

    I hope that Jim will understand and hope that I'm not wearing out my welcome with off-topic posts on other rye whisk(e)ys here. Here's one that has me stumped though and thought I'd throw it out to the group for some help.

    I just bought a bottle of Wiser's Special Blend Canadian Rye Whisky. It's very inexpensive($8USD) so I wasn't hoping for much. What a surprise! Although it has an unbelievably astringent/antiseptic initial grain alcohol hit, there is a spicy brittle unmistakably RYE wash that immediately follows. This is not a complex whisky, but it is kind of a throwback to the bare-knuckled shot and a beer kind of rye whisky I can imagine was staple of US bars in the 40's. Much more character than most of the bland Canadian Whisky currently on the market. A very interesting observation, when light passes through the bottle it illuminates very small sparkling particles floating in suspension. Perhaps this is an unfiltered whisky?

    The label doesn't reveal much, but surprisingly the receipt printed "Wiser's 4YR Rye". The distillery is listed as J.P. Wiser Distillery Limited, Belleville, Ont. I know that Hiram Walker owns the rights to the Wiser's name, but their big distillery in Ontario is in Walkerville near Windsor. Jim Murray doesn't mention a Belleville, Ontario distillery anywhere in his book. The importer is not Hiram Walker, like Canadian Club, it's Brittany Imports in Miami. Does anyone know anything about this whisky or the distillery from whence it came?

    Thanks,
    Bushido



  2. #2
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    Re: Off-topic (Canadian Rye)

    Stop apologizing!

    I saw your post about this on alt.drinks.scotch-whisky and have been waiting..... for an answer. Sounds interesting, but I've got nothing to contribute. It would be nice to have a Canadian whisky with some balls. I've got a great title for an article on Canadian distilling: "A Reluctance for Greatness."

    Lew Bryson
    Hirsch Reserve 16 YO: Real Pennsylvania Bourbon

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Off-topic (Canadian Rye)

    In Michael Jackson's World Guide to Whiskey (1987), he describes the Henry Corby Distillery in Belleville as "what passes in Canada for a delightfully old-fashioned distillery." At that time, they marketed a Corby line, Wiser's, and other labels. He says Wiser's was originally made in Prescott, Ontario. Hiram Walker was even then the company's majority stockholder. Jackson doesn't describe any of their products as other than Canadian blended whisky.

    In the U. S., "rye, a blend" or "blended rye" whiskey would have to mean a blend including only straight ryes, but they could be straight ryes from different years and different distilleries. Import labeling is governed by treaty, i.e., not the same laws U. S. brands are governed by, so it may not be the same for Canadian whiskey. They may be able to use the word "rye" if their blend contains any straight rye.

    - chuck


  4. #4
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    Re: Off-topic (Canadian Rye)

    Lew,

    Great title! It seems that there is some stirring amongst the sleeping giants in the great white north. Canadian Club recently released some interesting new products with a hint of character. There is the rumor of the Alberta Springs 100% rye, which I've not tracked down either. I know that the rye market isn't even the echo of a blip on the marketeer's radar screen, but if anyone seems poised to release a batch of *real* rye whiskies it's the Canucks. Although judging from the fact that the best Canadian Whiskies come from US distributors (Bush Pilot's Private Reserve and Hirsch CW), it's probably just another pipe dream like the vanity bottling of 100% rye from Lawrenceburg Indiana.

    Cheers,
    Bushido


  5. #5
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    Re: Off-topic (Canadian Rye)

    The rye market may be small, but... I was talking to Larry Kass at Heaven Hill last year and asked him if he'd seen any increase in rye sales or interest. "It's a tiny percentage of sales. It has gotten a lot of new interest, and anything that's an uptick in spirits gets attention." Cross your fingers.
    I did try those CC specials, and they were far and away the best Canadians I've ever had... especially since I've never had or even seen the Bush Pilot.

    Lew Bryson
    Hirsch Reserve 16 YO: Real Pennsylvania Bourbon

  6. #6
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    Re: Off-topic (Canadian Rye)

    I am afraid that the only thing I have to add to the present Canadian Rye discussion is more questions. While traveling through Canada this summer on vacation with the family (everyone needs to see Nigara Falls at least once, even Arkansans), we stopped in the Duty Free Store at the border. While the wife and kids were picking out genuine maple syrup, I was brousing the liquor. I found a bottle of Wisers Very Old Canadian Whisky. Since it was sold in Canada, all verbage on the label is duplicated in French, which gives the label a quaint touch. The label clearly states: 18 years old (thats right: dix-huit ans d'age). The address on the bottle is:

    J. P. Wiser
    Distillery Limited
    Belleville, Ont. Canada

    A nice coin glued to the bottle is inscribed "1979" which must be the distilling date. Unfortunately, the word 'rye' does not appear anywhere on the bottle, but neither does the word "blend", which is why I purchased it. Taste wise, it is nothing like any other Canadian whisky I have ever tried (about a dozen). There is absoluetly no sweetness, there is a clean clear smoothness that splashes onto the pallet, and what I preceive to be a rye taste. Not complex in flavors, but very smooth. I compared it to the only rye I had in the house, Wild Turkey 101 Rye. The Wild Turkey is not nearly as smooth, but more abundant in flavors. After the second round of tastes, one can detect a bit of bourbony taste in the Wild Turkey (probably more corn in the mashbill). This is something I never noticed in the Wild Turkey Rye before, but became noticeable by comaprison.

    Can the group tell me anything else about this whisky. Is it a rye? Is it a blend ?

    Mark A. Mason, El Dorado, Arkansas

  7. #7
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    Re: Off-topic (Canadian Rye)

    I tried that. It was great!

    While in Niagara Falls, I went into an LCBO store and found a couple of other interesting-looking bottles of small-batch Canadian whiskey. One was "okay", but the other, LOT 40, just about blew my socks off. It's a single-barrel, pot-still, 100% malted rye product. Apparently it's a little like Maker's Mark in that, although it's technically owned by a large, national beverage company (Corby), it's actually run as a small company that produces a very high-quality product in limited quantities. The rye flavor is absolutely stunning. We keep this out with the bourbons in our collection as a comparison, especially if we have a guest who appreciates rye whiskey.

    If anyone knows a distributor in the United States, please let me know.

    -John Lipman-
    http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

  8. #8
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    Re: Off-topic (Canadian Rye)

    I saw a bottle of the Wiser's Special Blend Canadian Rye Whisky at Sam's the other day and, on the strength of the discussion here, plus its cheap price, I grabbed a bottle. It's not awful. I don't drink Canadians enough to compare it to anything, but it has the perfumy quality I like about Canadians. In fact, it's better than not awful. It's actually pretty tasty. Just don't expect too much.

    - chuck


  9. #9
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    Canadian Whisky Guild

    John,

    I also picked this up at the LCBO over Christmas. What a wonderful find! There are three whiskies in this collection: Lot No.40; Gooderham and Worts, Ltd; and, Pike Creek (port wood finish). Corby is a marketing arm for Hiram Walker, so it's sure bet that all three of these come from the huge Walkerville distillery near Windsor. How HW can produce such diverse and flavorful whiskies such as these and then manage to bury them in their awful mainstream product line is beyond me. I have been trying to find out more about the grain bill of the Lot No.40. I'm sure it is not 100% rye, but all of the rye in it is 100% malted. Here's what the brochure says: "Lot No.40 is distilled in a single old fashioned copper pot still from a mash of small grains and malted rye." It is the most "rye-like" of any of the Canadian whiskies I have ever tried. I'm still searching for that elusive 100% rye CW made by Alberta Springs though...

    Slainte,
    Bushido


  10. #10
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    Re: Canadian Whisky Guild

    Well, now I'm disappointed that it isn't 100% pure rye. I still love the flavor, though -- it sure is a lot more rye than *I've* ever tasted. So now, how do we go about getting ahold of some Alberta Springs CW?

    I found a website with some info on Lot No. 40 (and also Pike's Creek and Gooderham & Worts Ltd. The three constitute Corbys' version of the Small Batch Brands). Check out http://celebrator.com/9904/shore.html

    Apparently, this whiskey has been made by one Joshua Booth and six generations of his descendents. Their homestead (Lot #40) on the shores of the Bay of Quinte is the basis for the label. This is in Eastern Ontario between Trenton and Napanee on Lake Ontario.

    Of course I don't know for sure that such a place really exists. Josua Booth may be no more authentic than Ezra ("visit our little distillery located well, uh, in Kentucky somewhere") Brooks, but the whiskey's sure good. And if Corby is part of Hiram Walker (who owns, but keeps their hands off of, Maker's Mark) then maybe just maybe this really is what it claims to be and Joshua Brooks is no less real than T. W. Samuels.

    -John Lipman-
    http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

 

 

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