Canadian Whisky

Book Review: Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert

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Until fairly recently, I didn’t know much about Canadian whisky.  Anything beyond Crown Royal or Canadian Club was pretty much foreign to me. But thankfully Davin de Kergommeaux is here to help.

In the second edition of his popular book, Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert, de Kergommeaux caters to a wide audience, ranging from whisky novices to whisky nerds. Many whisky books feature a section explaining grains, fermentation, distillation, and aging. De Kergommeaux’s writing style provides a very detailed, but not intimidating, look at the whisky-making process. Those just getting into whisky will appreciate the ease with which de Kergommeaux writes.

History buffs will relish the book’s journey into Canadian whisky’s past. Starting with Canada’s first distilleries, de Kergommeaux follows how the spirit evolved to what it is now, highlighting key figures along the way. Readers also get treated to in-depth and intimate profiles of Canada’s eight major distilleries as well as new upstarts.

In addition, Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert features tasting notes for more than 100 Canadian whiskies. It’s welcome addition to those looking to expand their Canadian whisky experience, as the majority of the whiskies featured will likely be unknown to American drinkers.

Word’s out: the world is embracing Canadian whisky. That is thanks in part to people like de Kergommeaux, who travels the world to spread Canadian whisky love. De Kergommeaux’s immense passion for his country’s whisky is only matched by his vast knowledge on the subject. It is evident on every page of this must read book. Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert is THE authoritative guide to understanding and enjoying Canadian whisky. Highly recommended!

Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert is available now.

Thanks to Appetite by Random House for the review copy. As always, all thought and opinions are my own.

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Entrapment 25-Year-Old Canadian Whisky

image005Entrapment is the latest entry in the Orphan Barrel series, as well as the first non-American whisky.  The 25-year-old whisky was distilled in 1992 in Gimli, Manitoba, where it was meant to be blended into Crown Royal Deluxe.  According to press materials, several barrels didn’t fit the blend.  The whisky continued to mature in those barrels until now.  Entrapment is distilled from a mostly corn mash bill… 97% to be exact, along with 3% malted barley.  It’s bottled at 82 proof and available for a suggested retail price of $149.99.

The Orphan Barrel series has been a bit of a mixed bag, with some excellent releases like Lost Prophet sitting alongside a couple of terrible ones. Whoop & Holler, anyone?  Where on the spectrum does Entrapment fit?  Quite up there, actually.

Though the low proof subdues the nose a bit, rich aromas of vanilla, maple syrup corn bread and light oak abound.  The palate is airy and soft, again mostly likely due to the low proof.  Notes of angel food cake, spice and vanilla mark the beginning of the flavor journey.  From there, rich notes of maple and leather develop in the mid-palate.  The journey continues, as baking spices reappear alongside dried fruits in the medium-length finish.

This is a well-aged whisky.  The development and complexity of flavors is welcome.  My only qualm with Entrapment is its low proof.  What’s delivered in the glass is fantastic, but a few more proof points (45% ABV instead of 41% ABV) may have propelled Entrapment into the stratosphere.  Only Diageo holds the answer to why Entrapment was bottled the way it is.  Regardless, my opinion of what’s currently in the glass remains steadfast.  Entrapment comes with a high recommendation, so long as potential buyers aren’t looking for a bold whisky experience.  8/10

Thanks to Diageo for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

Crown Royal Wine Barrel Finished Canadian Whisky Review

Canadian whisky giant Crown Royal’s newest expression just hit shelves.  This second entry in their annual Noble Collection sees a particular blend of Cown Royal whiskies finished in medium toasted Cabernet Sauvignon barrels for six months.  I don’t see a lot of whiskies using Cabernet casks for a secondary maturation.  The only one that comes to mind is Blood Oath Pact No. 3, which was pretty good.  Cabernet Sauvignon is such a full flavored wine that it can easily overpower a whisky’s character.

“We experimented with a number of different wines and oak provenances – but ultimately American oak Cabernet Sauvignon best complemented Crown Royal’s signature red fruit notes and velvety mouthfeel for a taste that both whisky and wine connoisseurs will love,” said Jim Ruane, Director of Crown Royal.

I had a small taste of this whisky a few months back, and really liked it.  Fast forward three months, and I spent a little bit of time with this Canadian whisky for a more thorough tasting.  The nose has those familiar Crown Royal notes of maple syrup, toasted oak and creamy vanilla.  However, the wine barrel finishing adds an expected fruitiness in the form of red berries, but also gives the whisky a little more spice than usual.  Think ground cinnamon.  The palate follows the nose rather closely.  Waves of caramel and maple syrup build as raspberry jam and baking spices begin appearing midpalate.  There’s some vanilla pod that begins showing up along with a slightly drying oak.  The medium finish features some sweet red fruits and oak spice.

Crown Royal Wine Barrel Finished is just as enjoyable as I remember.  The blend is well balanced between a creamy caramel, sweet fruits, and oak spices.  Bottled at 40.5% abv, this whisky retains the “smoothness” Crown Royal fans like with a genuinely easy-sipping but flavorful character that I think is worth exploring.  Nicely done!  8/10  $60

Thanks to Crown Royal for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.