Earlier in the month I had a review of a craft whiskey from a distillery in Montana that I had not heard of till a friend gave me the sample. Here now is a review of another whisky I had not heard of till a friend gave me a sample. It is from a place even more inscrutable and mysterious than Montana: Canada. And in no sphere is Canadian inscrutability better embodied than in its whisky industry. No one knows which distillery anything is distilled at. In fact, it’s not clear if there’s more than one distillery or if Alberta Distillers just slaps different labels on its bottles on different days of the week. Adding to the confusion is the fact that producers are allowed to flavour their whiskies with anything they like. I’m told most use maple syrup. Which means this mystery Canadian whisky is even more unusual still for it is made by adding amontillado sherry to the original rye. Now you might say that adding sherry to whisky is effectively what most Scottish distilleries do too, with their sherry finishes and whiskies “matured” in casks pressure treated with cooking sherry. But trust wild, impetuous, madcap Canada to flaunt their lawlessness in all our faces and just go ahead and pour sherry right into their rye. What a bunch of outlaws!
Tap 8, Canadian Rye (41.5%; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Obviously sherried with raisins and a bit of orange peel; some powdered ginger as well. With time there’s some red fruit—it becomes reminiscent of some red wine finished malts—but the plastic from the palate expands here as well. Water pushes the plastic back a bit and pulls out some cream.
Palate: The sweet notes lead but are overtaken almost immediately by a plasticky bitterness reminiscent of grain whisky—though in this case it probably comes from the new oak casks this is matured in. The texture is thin. Some of those red wine finish notes here too with time but the astringent grainy note expands. Less astringent here too with water but not any more interesting.
Finish: Medium. Some menthol coolness shows up here but it’s the grainy bitterness that’s the top note. The menthol turns to aniseed. Still bitter. As on the nose and palate with water.
Comments: This is indistinct and undistinguished at best, unpleasant at worst. Not much sign of the rye here; not much sign really of anything that would make me want to have another pour of this.
Rating: 70 points.
Thanks, I guess, to Michael K. for the sample. (Read his review here.)