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Masterson's Rye


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This is now available in Toronto and I picked one up. The bottle says Batch 3.

This is the best of the three straight ryes said to be from the same source. It has a super-soft mouthfeel and a refined, elegant flavour, yet is very much on the straight whiskey vector.

It reminded me of a very good wheater in quality at about the same age, e.g. Lot B.

Although confected from all-rye, I don't really get pronounced or almost any rye notes. It tastes (to me) like a very smooth bourbon.

It shows once again the variety that issues from Canadian distilleries in terms of the so-called flavouring whiskeys. E.g., its apparent stablemate Dark Horse (i.e., made at the same location, Alberta Distillers, if indeed that's true), could not be more different. Dark Horse is more like Don Outterson's whiskeys, full of feisty pot still character, or like Versailles make or Anchor's ryes, say. Masterson's is a more refined take on the whiskey idea despite the frontier imagery evoked by the liberal narrative on the package. It's rather overdone IMO, but that's me - I'd rather this have come in a plainer package with 1/3rd or more knocked off the price.

Anyway, this is top-of-the-line - the best Canadian-made whisky I have had. Lot No. 40 is a good and interesting product and well-priced but not in the same league, ditto for Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve and Wiser's Legacy, IMO again.

Gary

Edited by Gillman
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I keep hearing Lot 40 is on the market again, are you seiing it in Canada? I would love to see it brought into the uS, but cannot find out if or when it will be.

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It is on the market again Tom, mostly in and around Toronto. Niagara Falls doesn't have any, or at this time.

I'd bring you one but I don't know when I get can down to your area and with winter approaching soon..

It is the best release so far, connected to the one before but not as congeneric IMO and better balanced.

Gary

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I really need to try Masterson's again as my first and only impression was very sub-par. Well below WhistkePig and even Jefferson's. I was very disappointed.

Perhaps I need to try this batch 3 Gary. You've definitely got me curious.

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It's very good Josh, I hadn't tried the earlier batches so I can't say about those. (And we know batches can vary). I do like WP and Jefferson's a lot too but this one stands ahead IMO. I wonder if in part it is the water they are using in Sonoma to take it to bottle strength, it is rainwater soft and brings out all the whisky has to offer. By the way tasting it again I am getting rosewater-like complexities which I recall from old-time bourbons that were rye-heavy and e.g. from the old Michter's. The rye does show but in a very particular and attractive way. The people who distilled and selected this know exactly what they are doing IMO, no question.

Gary

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Anyway, this is top-of-the-line - the best Canadian-made whisky I have had. Lot No. 40 is a good and interesting product and well-priced but not in the same league, ditto for Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve and Wiser's Legacy, IMO again.

Gary

It may be good ... but IMO its not $110 good! If the whisky was bottled in Canada by the producer it would probably retail for under $50!!!

I haven't tried the FC copper pot reserve but, for the same money, I'll take three bottles of Lot no 40 or 2 bottles of Wiser's Legacy over one fancy box of Mastersons.

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I agree about the pricing, I think it's unfortunate. It's a very good whiskey and doesn't need all the marketing paraphernalia IMO, which must add to the cost. The other whiskeys are much better value.

Gary

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A check at wine-searcher show a number of US sellers offering this for

under $80. and a few who ship to my state have it priced under $60.

Reading the comments here make this sound like something worth

trying at that price.

The US/Canada $ is about even - any idea why the US price is almost half

the Canadian?

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The US/Canada $ is about even - any idea why the US price is almost half

the Canadian?

Canadians have been asking that question for .... ever!

ALL alcohol is more expensive in Canada than the US - even Canadian whisky! It has to do with two basic factors:

1. higher sin taxes and duties

2. all stores (exept in Alberta) are state controlled

The Mastersons is especially irksome - to me. The whisky was distilled and matured in Canada, shipped in bulk to the US, packaged in the US, shipped back to Canada. You do the math ... multiple sets of mark-ups (producer, bottler, distributor in Canada*), add taxes on the original product in Canada, taxes in the US, and duties and taxes to bring it back to Canada.

If the whisky in the Mastersons bottle was put on the market by the Canadian producer, it would probably retail for <$50 - the price of Wiser's Legacy.

* note that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO, who claim to be one of the largest alcohol purchasers in the world) purchase most items (it might be all items) from distributors. You would thing that with such purchasing power they would deal directly with the producers, right? They don't.

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  • 2 weeks later...
..

The Mastersons is especially irksome - to me. The whisky was distilled and matured in Canada, shipped in bulk to the US, packaged in the US, shipped back to Canada. You do the math ... multiple sets of mark-ups (producer, bottler, distributor in Canada*), add taxes on the original product in Canada, taxes in the US, and duties and taxes to bring it back to Canada. ...

If Masterson's Rye is bottled in the U.S. (and sold in the U.S.), why is it shipped it back to Canada? Are bottles shipped to distributors directly from Canada? It seems more logical/economical to have the bottles shipped to the distributors directly.

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This is now available in Toronto and I picked one up. The bottle says Batch 3.

This is the best of the three straight ryes said to be from the same source. It has a super-soft mouthfeel and a refined, elegant flavour, yet is very much on the straight whiskey vector.

It reminded me of a very good wheater in quality at about the same age, e.g. Lot B.

Although confected from all-rye, I don't really get pronounced or almost any rye notes. It tastes (to me) like a very smooth bourbon...

Spotted some of the Batch 3 locally and, based on Gary's recommendation, picked up a bottle.

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John, I'd be very interested in your take on this. I think it is the best we've ever produced in this country but it needs neat drinking for maximum impact IMO.

Regarding bottling Stateside and subsequent importation, I would think it is shipped in bulk to California where it is cut and bottled, then released for U.S. sale mainly, but some is sent back here. I don't think Canada is the primary market, I'd think the expected sales here were not thought large enough to warrant a domestic release. True, it could be sold here and exported in bottled form, but I would think again there must have been tax or other reasons to do it the other way.

Gary

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Spotted some of the Batch 3 locally and, based on Gary's recommendation, picked up a bottle.

John, what's a bottle run approximately?

Have not seen any in these parts.

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John, what's a bottle run approximately?

Have not seen any in these parts.

IIRC, about $63... I could be off by a few $.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I saw a Masterson's Rye at TPS when I was in your area the other day John. I didn't see anywhere on the box indicating which batch it is. Any insight?

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I saw a Masterson's Rye at TPS when I was in your area the other day John. I didn't see anywhere on the box indicating which batch it is. Any insight?

The one I got (from TPS) was Batch 3. it's written on the front of the bottle right below the label.

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The one I got (from TPS) was Batch 3. it's written on the front of the bottle right below the label.

Well that might explain why I couldn't see it. The bottle was in the box and there was no way to see the front label without opening it.

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  • 4 weeks later...

John B. was kind enough to send me a sample of batch #3. The following are my thoughts.

Masterson's Rye Batch #3. 10yr, 100% Canadian Rye, 45% (90 proof)

Color: Light brown with a yellow tint.

Nose: Soft and perfumey, the scents slowly elevate from the glass. Nothing overpowering here. Baked rye bread, ginger snaps, and coffee cake. This is a very elegant, easy nose that deserves your time. A touch of cinnamon butter and a hint of nutmeg. Outstanding!

Taste: Very subtle, soft, spicy entry. A quick dash of pepper that rapidly changes to toasted rye bread. Ground turmeric and dry mustard emerge and give this one an earthy, slightly pungent, bitter flavor up front. This note has faded with the 3rd and 4th sip as well as some time in the glass, but it's still present. Allspice and ground cardamon spring up mid-palate. Baking spices play throughout with a soft hint of oregano on exit.

Finish: Mildly bitter with notes of bay leaf and cloves. Medium length, there is the slightest tangy, dill weed presence as this one begins to fade.

Rating: This was so close to being an epic rye and another stellar offering from Alberta, Canada. It has an exceptional nose and a very well rounded, refined palate. But that bitter turmeric, dry mustard note cannot be denied and lurks within every sip. Unfortunately, this is a deal breaker for me. I know this one frequently gets lumped in with Whistle Pig and Jefferson's, but to my palate, it is night and day different. Whistle Pig is still head of the class with Jefferson's coming in 2nd and Masterson's bringing up the rear. This aligns with my previous assessment of Masterson's Batch #1 as I came to the same conclusion. In the end, I'm still reaching for the Whistle Pig with the Jefferson's not too far behind. I'm scoring this one an 85.

Thanks for the sample John!!!!

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  • 4 months later...
theglobalguy

Awesome tasting notes. I just managed to find a batch #3 at my local shop. Kept thinking "man this reminds me of indian food", couldn't place the spices. Having not tried the other two (Whistle Pig and Jeffersons) i'm giving this 1st place of 1 for Canadian Ryes i've tried!

Need to find an excuse to grab the Jeffersons next time i'm there.

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  • 5 months later...

I'm going to update now with a Batch 5 assessment.

The Masterson rye: sourced at LCBO this week, $75.00 (price has come down over 25% recently).

Nose: only light chemical notes, warm smoked wood, very light spice

Taste: sweeter and richer than earlier batches I've had, seemingly more mature (older?). Wood better integrated with the distillery notes. Very well balanced, smooth and glycerine-like, but you still get the straight character especially in the finish.

Overall: Best batch ever IMO, and a comparative bargain considering the price drop.

Gary

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I decided to pick up a Batch 5 today when I saw it for $57.

I wasn't expecting a revelation, but it's good quality. I like it more than Ritt BIB and Baby Saz in a side by side, so it beats the value competition. As you mentioned, Gary, the balance and silky smooth mouthfeel really make it a nice sipper. I want to crack open a new bottle of Rendezvous Rye to compare, which is my current favorite in the mid-priced rye category.

I also tried a 50/50 of Masterson's and Baby Saz, which was nice.

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I like that vatting of ryes! I feel current Rendezvous is not as good as Masterson's and the bulk of it surely is (at 6 years age with a seasoning of 16) considerably younger of course. I was considering a mingle of these latter two but don't think it would work. Funny you mentioned Baby Saz because the Masterson reminds me somewhat of it...

Gary

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I'm going to update now with a Batch 5 assessment.

The Masterson rye: sourced at LCBO this week, $75.00 (price has come down over 25% recently).

Nose: only light chemical notes, warm smoked wood, very light spice

Taste: sweeter and richer than earlier batches I've had, seemingly more mature (older?). Wood better integrated with the distillery notes. Very well balanced, smooth and glycerine-like, but you still get the straight character especially in the finish.

Overall: Best batch ever IMO, and a comparative bargain considering the price drop.

Gary

I too picked one up at the LCBO on sale last week. I like it well enough but, to be sure, I wouldn't consider paying anywhere near full price. @ $75, its ok, but it doesn't compare to similarly priced (though much harder to find) BTAC Sazerac 18, Handy or VW Rye. At over $100 reg price, it's in the realm of Van Winkle pricing and for a 10 yr old whiskey, that's too high for my tastes.

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