Lot No. 40
Hiram-Walker Distillery (Corby)
Category: Canadian whisky, NAS, Rye
Whisky Cabinet Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆
Lot No. 40 is, by far, the most celebrated Canadian whisky among whisky enthusiasts. It’s won more awards than any other Canadian whisky, setting the bar in the Canadian whisky scene.
Produced by Corby (the company behind Wiser’s), made at Hiram-Walker Distillery, Lot No. 40 was first released with a whimper. When this rye-forward whisky first came out in the 1990s, it didn't sell well. The market wasn't ready for a premium Canadian whisky. Fortunately, today's whisky drinker is looking for a whisky with character. Smooth whiskies are out, and bold whiskies are in. Lot No. 40 is a bold whisky that's a wonderful harmonization of rye spice and oak-forward flavours.
Some whisky drinkers find Lot No. 40 abrasive. Canadian ryes can be an acquired taste. American ryes tend to start on the palate like a bourbon, with a nice hit of oaky vanilla before the rye flavour plays through the middle and finish. Many of these American ryes are considered "barely legal" ryes, because they contain only the minimum 51% rye in the mash. Canadian ryes tend to not be as oak-forward, and the rye notes hit the palate earlier. Canadian ryes tend to have fresher, greener notes.
Sure, Crown Royal North Harvest Rye got top media play in 2015, but Lot No. 40 continues to win awards at major whisky shows. It's whisky priced to either sip neat, have on ice, or in a cocktail. Between Lot No. 40 and Gooderham & Warts 4 Grain, Corby is doing a fine job with elevated Canadian whisked.
Nose: Hard candy, pickled veg, sour bread, and deep wet-grass sort of earthiness.
Palate: There’s a subtle rye spice that starts on the palate. It rapidly takes over the flavour profile in a controlled but explosive direction. There are hints of dried fruit, and the whisky certainly ends in a dry peppery finish, but the majority of the flavour is all untampered rye. The graininess comes through into the long finish again, nicely playing along the peppery spice. Eventually you’ll get to lemon peel citrus, some ginger, a little more dry fruit, hard candy, possibly some hay. Take a sip, and just wait.
Conclusion: Lot No 40 is for whisky enthusiasts that love Canadian ryes. The forward rye notes doesn’t make it a good beginners whisky, but for enthusiasts it does well. It is an unapologetic rye-forward Canadian whisky that set the bar back in 2012 and continues to hold the lead.
*Whisky Cabinet Rating Explained:
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ Not recommended
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ Good whisky, but not a ‘must-have’
★ ★ ☆ ☆ Your great regular rotation whisky that'll come and go
★ ★ ★ ☆ Excellent, a near must-have
★ ★ ★ ★ Extraordinary, memorable, and original