Collingwood Double Barreled Review - A Departure from the Dreaded “Smooth” Whisky

It’s time for blunt talk: Today’s whisky enthusiast is (generally) not a fan of Collingwood whisky. This is a whisky for a casual whisky drinker—the whisky drinker who has a few pours a month. The sort of whisky drinker that doesn’t need to describe a whisky in any other adverb but ‘smooth.’ This is a big market, and Collingwood deservingly sells plenty of whisky!  

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Glenmorangie Quinta Ruben 12 Review - The most Glenmorangie Scotch of them all

Glenmorangie Quinta Ruben 12 Review - The most Glenmorangie Scotch of them all

Not all Glenmorangie scotches are complex, but all are rich and luxurious; they capture that essence of drinking a special pour. Quinta Ruben 12 Year Old, is perhaps, the best fitting of the Glenmorangie name from the regular release expressions.

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Jura Superstition Review - Where Smooth and Edgy Meet

Jura Superstition Review - Where Smooth and Edgy Meet

TripAdvisor’s website is sparse on recommendations for Scotland’s Island of Jura. There are eight tourist attractions; the first ranked one is the car ferry off the island. In fourth, it’s the passenger ferry off the island. At a respectable second place, is Jura Distillery with mostly great reviews, but also some sour apples. Sadly, there are times the distillery is closed or where tours are limited, so their star rating takes a hit. Book in advance, is the recommendation.

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Eager for Lot No 40 Cask Strength? Here's your best bet on getting a bottle

Eager for Lot No 40 Cask Strength? Here's your best bet on getting a bottle

The release of the highly anticipated Northern Border Collection (read my writeup) is coming out in a trickle within the LCBO here in Ontario. If you want your hands on Lot No 40 Cask Strength and the other great whiskies as part of this collection, here are some rules to follow:

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Lot No 40 100% Rye Cask Strength 12 Year Old Review

Lot No 40 100% Rye Cask Strength 12 Year Old Review

I’ll admit to having been nervous about tasting this one. Drinking whisky out of the cask is an impossibly repeatable treat. It’s like having oysters shucked right out of the ocean, or salmon lightly fried hours after being caught. Drinking whisky out of the barrel is the best of experiences. Few sell actually sells whisky straight from the barrel. It’s filtered, especially for char sediment (because there’s plenty), and typically blended within a batch of barrels for flavour consistency. So how does this bottled version measure-up?

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Northern Border Collection Rare Whiskies to trigger the “Global reappraisal of our Canadian spirit”

Northern Border Collection Rare Whiskies to trigger the “Global reappraisal of our Canadian spirit”

Ross Hendry, Pernod-Richard’s director from premium Canadian Whisky, is bullish on his company’s next move: “Mark this moment in your memories. Years from now we will look back at it as pivotal in the journey we are on to drive the reappraisal of our national spirit.” After the success of J.P. Wiser’s Rare Cask releases (including Union 52, Dissertation, and Last Barrels), the Canadian division of Pernod-Richard (Corby’s Spirits and Wines) is ready to make the big move.

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J.P. Wiser’s One Fifty - Undisputed Winner in Canada's Celebration

J.P. Wiser’s One Fifty - Undisputed Winner in Canada's Celebration

J.P. Wiser’s (or more generally, Corby’s) is the only big Canadian whisky company truly embracing today’s whisky drinker. Other whisky brands will argue the point, certainly, but J.P. Wiser’s deserves the credit. A decade ago, we had Forty Creek leading the Canadian whisky category. Five or so years ago, this category has grown with Canadian Club 100% Rye, Dark Horse, and Corby’s own Lot No 40. Barrels of whisky purchased from Alberta Distillers made big inroads, but were all sold under the US flag (Masterson’s & WhistlePig as an example). Last year we were left asking the question, who would take the next big leap?

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J.P. Wiser’s Dissertation - Dr. Don Approved

J.P. Wiser’s Dissertation - Dr. Don Approved

The term “rare cask” gets tossed around in Scotland. It’s code for expensive, not necessarily rare, but J.P. Wiser’s has made true on their promise to produce rare whiskies that are also quite affordable (often around $60 Canadian). The first in the series, Last Barrels, sold exclusively in Ontario through the LCBO. Not long after, the BC Liquor Board wanted their own special release. They received Union 52. That was 2016. With the success of those two releases, J.P. Wiser’s has gone all in with the Rare Cask series. Dissertation is a continuation of this whisky conversation of new types of Canadian whisky releases.

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Age statements and “Poor Man’s Pappy” with Whisky in the 6

Age statements and “Poor Man’s Pappy” with Whisky in the 6

Fellow Torontonian, Rob of Whisky in the 6, has a popular YouTube channel that features guests and whisky reviews. I came on the show. We talked about Poor Man’s Pappy (a mix of Weller’s 12 and 107), age statements on Scotch, and debated whether or not whisky changes in the bottle. Check it out! 

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Wild Turkey Straight Bourbon Review - That One Percent Makes a Difference

Wild Turkey Straight Bourbon Review - That One Percent Makes a Difference

Before vodka took over the spirits scene in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, Wild Turkey 81 didn’t exist. The only widely available Wild Turkey you could get was 101 proof (50.5% ABV). However, when the vodka era did take over, the market no longer wanted boozy whisky; they wanted tasteless spirits that went down easily. It was a dark time for whisky (and taste!). 

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Russell’s Reserve Straight Rye Single Barrel Review - The Fancy Wild Turkey

Russell’s Reserve Straight Rye Single Barrel Review - The Fancy Wild Turkey

Russell’s Reserve is the high-end brand from Wild Turkey Distillery. It’s a little more expensive (but still affordable), with the focus on big flavours. This is one of the things I truly love about Wild Turkey Distillery; they have a simple quality chart. Wild Turkey Bourbon (formally 81) is the cheap stuff. Wild Turkey 101 is the good stuff. Wild Turkey Rare Breed is the fancy stuff. Russell’s Reserve is the posh stuff (insofar as bourbon gets posh, which let’s face it — it's not intended to be all that posh).

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High West Bourye - Playful American Whisky Sacrilege

High West Bourye - Playful American Whisky Sacrilege

David Perkins started High West after visiting Maker's Mark Distillery and falling in love with bourbon. With a successful career in pharmaceuticals, he took all his knowledge and turned it into whisky. When David Perkins was our guest on The Whisky Topic, he noted that whisky and pharma aren't all that different: they both require biochemistry, and the work you do today won't be available to the public for up to a decade. 

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Laphroaig Cairdeas Madeira Cask Review - Decadent, sweet & peated

Laphroaig Cairdeas Madeira Cask Review - Decadent, sweet & peated

Let's be honest. The scotch industry is making fools of us with special cask finishes. While sherry cask finishes weren't new five years ago, they've sprouted up like dandelions. Then came the wine finishes, which were never all that successful, but plentiful. Oloroso Sherry became a statement of the quality sherry finishes. Port finishes? Oh, yes! There are plenty of port finishes.

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Willett Family Estate Single Barrel - Aged 11 Years, Barrel Number 438

Willett Family Estate Single Barrel - Aged 11 Years, Barrel Number 438

This particular bottle of Willet 11 Year Old retailed for $120. It now sells for between $400 to $1200 US in secondary markets. That's at Pappy Van Winkle levels. Welcome to the wonderful world of rare whisky unicorns. If you've looking for bottle number 1 of the total 175 sold, I'm sorry to say, it's in my whisky cabinet and it's sitting empty.

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Gooderham's Canadian Centennial 15 Years Old Canadian Whisky - Dusty Review

Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary. In the next few months, we'll be hearing all about Corby's 150th anniversary whisky, but first let's review the whisky released for Canada's 100th birthday. This whisky, released in 1967, was distilled in 1952. At fifteen years matured in barrels, it's a rare old find from an era where Canadian whiskies were rarely bottled with a double-digit age statement. 

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Old Weller Antique Original 107 - On The Boozy Side of Fun

Old Weller Antique Original 107 - On The Boozy Side of Fun

If you're a whisky enthusiast with a bourbon collection, you either have Old Weller Antique in your collection or you're waiting for the next shipment to your local liquor store. Weller bourbons have family ties with Pappy Van Winkle. Back "in the day," Weller was the bourbon sold by the family that was generally available, and Pappy was the rare stuff. Both products use the same recipe. Contrary to some beliefs, they do not taste the same.

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Spirit of Speyside Makes Whisky Awards Accessible

Spirit of Speyside Makes Whisky Awards Accessible

Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is one of the more unique whisky award competitions each year. While selected judges pick a panel of finalists, it’s whisky fans that vote on the winner. This is quite the contrast to the typical whisky award program, where judges are limited to a few (or many) experts in the field, and sessions are often behind closed doors. Spirit of Speyside is among the more accessible whisky award programs, and this year its reach is broadening.

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