Last Barrels

Maker: Corby, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Pernod Ricard)20170407_200835

Distilled: Hiram Walker, Windsor, Ontario, Canada (Pernod Ricard)

Style: Unblended sour mash Canadian whisky

Age: 14 y/o

ABV: 45%

Price: $65, Canadian ($48.50 US; Ontario only)

Thanks to Andrew for helping me acquire this bottle!

Appearance: Medium copper with long clingy legs.

Nose: Sharp young oak, black walnut, old oak, grape soda, alcohol.

Palate: Full bodied and silky. Dark chocolate covered caramels, caramel corn, bubble gum.

Finish: Plum juice, chopped walnuts, alcohol

Parting words: This whisky is weird. It’s made from a bourbon-like recipe of  80% corn , 11% rye and 9% malt (similar proportions to Early Times or Buffalo Trace) all mixed together before fermentation (unusual for a Canadian). Unlike most Canadian whiskies, it was also made with a sour mash like bourbon, but it was soured in an unconventional way. According to Canadian whisky sage Davin de Kergommeaux,  master distiller Jim Stanski placed a carton of milk on the counter in the lab at Hiram Walker and allowed it it to sour. He then poured it into the mash to lower the Ph. The idea seems insane but it’s hard to argue with the results.

This limited run (2,000 cases) whisky is called Last Barrels because it made up of the last barrels filled at Hiram Walker during Jim Stanski’s tenure as master distiller. Fear not, Jim didn’t leave the distillery, he just moved up the corporate ladder. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) was looking for a special release for Father’s Day 2016 and the folks at Corby thought Jim’s wacky last batch would be a perfect fit.

I was not a fan of the nose at first, but it has mellowed since I first opened (that or my nose got used to it). It is too sharply woody, like craft bourbons aged in small barrels. It’s wonderful on the palate, though. Full bodied and lucious, it’s like cuddling up in a soft blanket with a soft friend on a warm winter night. It’s stupid cheap too, probably too cheap for how few barrels there are. I’m not complaining, though. There are a few still kicking around the LCBO system, but with the limited number of bottles and a strike looming, act fast. Wiser’s Last Barrels is highly recommended.

 

Wiser’s Legacy

Maker: Corby, Corbyville, Ontario, Canadawpid-2014-10-16-18.21.08.jpg.jpeg

Distilled: Hiram Walker, Windsor, Ontario, Canada (Pernod-Ricard)

Age: NAS

ABV: 45%

Michigan State Minimum: $45

Appearance: Light copper with long thick legs.

Nose: Leather, spearmint, potpourri, coriander, green cardamom, woodruff, Habanero peppers.

Palate: Full bodied and medium dry. Butterscotch, white pepper, basil, cilantro, alcohol.

Finish: Eucalyptus cough drops, aged Alsatian Pinot Gris, hint of oak.

Parting words: Wiser’s Legacy is the legacy of now retired master blender David Doyle. Wiser’s Legacy is back in the U.S. after two year long absence. Named 2013 Canadian Whisky of the Year by Whisky Advocate, it’s a remarkable product.

It’s made from a blend of rye, malted rye and maltly barely and has loads of minty Canadian rye aromas (think early batches of Whistle Pig) that are elegantly balanced with candy sweetness and toasted barrel notes. It manages to be both unabashedly Canadian and a transcendent, world class-whisky on par with bourbons twice its price and single malt Scotches four times the price. I taste something new every time I pour myself a couple ounces.

Nobody knows how long it will be back on American shelves, so buy a bottle or two while you can. Wiser’s Legacy is highly recommended.

 

Wiser’s De Luxe

Maker: Corby, Corbyville, Ontario, Canada

Distilled: Hiram Walker, Windsor, Ontario, Canada (Pernod-Ricard) (?)

Age: NAS

ABV: 40%

Appearance: Pale gold

Nose: Curry, sherry, horseradish.

On the palate: Medium-bodied. Ginger, coriander seed, mace.

Finish: Big sherry hit, followed by lingering sweetness and burn.

Parting words: Wiser’s De Luxe is what they call a grower. I found the agressive sherry and spice in the nose to be off-putting at first. But after a few months of drinking this, I’m at the point where I like it. It’s still rough around the edges, as any whisky this age is likely to be. But it has much more sherry and rye character than the competition. This is a nice, entry level Canadian whisky that also does well in soft drinks, particularly ginger ale. Wiser’s De Luxe is recommended.