Friday, 6 June 2014

We stand on guard for thee

Whisky Discovery Tasting #3 - Canadian Whisky

From New Brunswick to Old Bedford

Those wonderful chaps at Whisky Discovery HQ have been at it again. Not satisfied with offering an exclusive preview of Douglas Laing's Scallywag in December, not content with breaking out a pre-release bottle of 2014 English Whisky Chapter 13 earlier this year, they decided to really push the boat out this time and kidnap one of the foremost Canadian whisky writers, Johanne McInnis. Not only that; they persuaded her to bring a suitcase load of Canada's finest.

Despite a gruelling start to the week travelling the breadth of England and Wales to visit various distilleries, Johanne, Dave and Kat managed to muster the energy to put on a fantastic evening of raucous laughter, entertainment and stories from across the pond, including a nigh-on obscene tale of proposals and cherry stems. There was some whisky along the way too.

1 - Alberta Premium 'Dark Horse' - 45%

Stable start

Info: Produced by Alberta Distillers Ltd., Dark Horse is a mix of 12 year old rye whisky and six year old small-pot rye, with a small amount of aged corn whisky.

Thoughts: Very sweet on the nose with a great deal of vanilla and vine fruits. The palate exhibits the classic rye profile with a fair amount of spice and a mineral note. Not much of a finish to it, so probably wise choice to put this at the top of the order.

2 - Collingwood 21yo - 40%

Put some behind your ears

Info: Hailing from the Canadian Mist distillery, Collingwood 21 is a 100% Canadian rye whisky that has been allowed to rest in a huge marrying vat filled with Maplewood staves.

Thoughts: Floral and herbal on the nose with vanilla and butterscotch. Huge hit of rye bread on the palate with spices galore and a dry woody finish. Big step up in quality from the 'Dark Horse'.

3 - Forty Creek 'Confederation Oak' - 40%

Life begins at Forty Creek

Info: From the Forty Creek distillery, this is a blended whisky whose makers eschew the standard mashbill process, instead opting to distil and age the corn, rye and barley spirits separately before marrying and bottling.

Thoughts: Toffee and oak on the nose . The wood is echoed on the palate and followed buy subtle fruit and cream. Great balance on this one.

4 - Highwood Ninety 20yo - 45%

Rye, my arse

Info: Produced by Highwood Distillers, this is bottled at a higher proof than most Canadian whiskies and, although labelled as a rye whisky, it is actually 100% wheat (a lie whisky, as Johanne calls it).

Thoughts: Lighter on the nose than anything that has gone before. Creamy and nutty with a hint of cornichons and, unsurprisingly, vanilla. On the palate there's a huge amount of buttery, creamy, buttery, buttery goodness. followed by a nice amount of spice nearing the finish. My favourite of the evening.

5 - Crown Royal Limited Edition - 40%

What? No bag?

Info: The version of Crown Royal that the Canadians keep for themselves. Johanne says the stuff we get over here is rubbish; I say ours is better because it comes in a purple velvet bag, so there.

Thoughts: Milk chocolate and allspice on the nose with a hint of anise to follow. Very easy to drink, tasty and enough spice to keep things interesting.

6 - Lot 40 - 43%

These puns are making me rye-perventilate

Info: Another 100% rye whisky, this time from the chaps over at the Hiram Walker distillery. It's distilled from a mix of rye malt and rye and is, I'm told, the epitome of Canadian rye whisky, giving Canada's southern neighbours a lesson in what good rye is all about.

Thoughts: A feisty nose with cough candy, oranges and powdered sugar. Classic (but supercharged) rye on the palate, contrasting the nose with bitter orange and oak.

7 - Potter 11yo - Cadenhead's Authentic World Collection - 55.1%

Sorry about your knee, Dave

Info: A 100% Corn whisky from the Potter 'not technically a distillery' Distillery in British Columbia. A rare bottling, intended for the German market, this is one of four bottles left in the UK. Originally distilled from the Weyburn distillery, which was sold to a methanol plant back in 2002.

Thoughts: Very punchy on the nose; cask strength Canadian whisky is highly unusual. Completely different from anything else in the line-up. Tastes like no corn whisky I've ever tried before. Wonderfully fruity and spicy and a complete lack of the corn profile I'd usually associate with whiskies of this nature. Needs a fair bit of water though. A rare treat.

Another great evening of whisky from the chaps at Whisky Discovery HQ and a great example of #whiskyfabric in action.

Catch up with Dave, Kat and Johanne on Twitter.

Cheers/ A votre sante!