Head to Head: Black Velvet vs. Black Velvet Reserve

BV= Black Velvetwpid-2014-08-22-17.47.05.jpg.jpeg

BVR= Black Velvet Reserve

Maker: Black Velvet, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada (Constellation)

Age

BV: 3 y/o

BVR: 8 y/o

ABV: 40%

Michigan State Minimum

BV: $10

BVR: $13

Appearance

BV: Pale copper with some beading.

BVR: Very similar. Maybe a little darker.

Nose

BV: Alcohol, creamed corn, burnt caramel.

BVR: More balanced. Corn syrup, oak, caramel, vanilla, cumin, tarragon.

Palate

BV: Sweet and fruity. Plum, maple sugar candy.

BVR: Sophisticated and complex. Pralines, plums, oak, toffee.

Finish

BV: Very light. A hint of cookie butter and corn syrup.

BVR: Caramel, charred oak, black cherry, alcohol. Lingers for a long time.

Mixed

BV: Does very well in an old fashioned and with ginger ale. OK on the rocks.

BVR: Did not mix.

Parting words: I had been avoiding Black Velvet for a long time, just because I assumed it was terrible given its price point and its Canadian-ness. I gave it a half drunken try at a local whiskey tasting and I was pleasantly surprised. I was downright impressed with the reserve, which I tried after that.

Both have a sweet fruity quality that is very enjoyable. The original BV is a little rough around the edges, but the low proof smoothes it out nicely. It also mixes very well.

The reserve is a tasty, sophisticated, complex and well-balanced sipper. It’s a steal at only three dollars more for almost three times the age and flavor of its younger sibling. In its case the low proof works against it, though. Black Velvet Reserve would be highly recommended and possibly one of the world’s best whiskies if it were unfiltered and at barrel proof. It’s a shame that it’s not, but as it is, both Black Velvet and Black Velvet reserve are recommended.

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