Last Barrels represents Canada's unintended nudge into bourbon territory, all from an experiment that started back in 2001. At that time Hiram Walker's master distiller, Jim Stanski, was promoted into management. Before leaving his post, Jim started an experiment from an old recipe J.P. Wiser used dating back to 1869.Read More
Sazerac 18 rye, one of the five Buffalo Trace Antique Collection releases this year, failed LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) lab testing. The rumour is the levels of ethyl carbamate were above the LCBO’s limit. This was the probable reason given to me, and others, when calling the helloLCBO number. However, an LCBO spokesperson told me that the results are proprietary and would not confirm the reason behind the failed results.Read More
Do you live in Ontario? Do you feel like you’re never in the loop on what’s coming into (and leaving) the liquor store?
Join the club! No, literally, join the club. Join the Ontario Spirits Report mailing list.Read More
Bourbon buyers in Ontario have always had their secrets. When rare products appeared on shelves (Elmer T. Lee back in the day, W.L. Weller 12 today), Ontario whisky buyers snatched them up quickly. Good bourbon options in Ontario are, however, disappearing. We can’t even blame the LCBO on this one. The demand for bourbon in the United States is delisting many favourite bourbons from international sales.Read More
Many bourbon lovers rightfully obsess over Four Roses.*
The distillery uses five different yeast strains (yeast matters), and two mash-bills to create a total of ten different variations of high-rye bourbon. This allows for a lot of micro-variation and complexity in the blending process.Read More
Georgia Moon Corn Spirit is bottled in a hipster-ish mason jar at 40% ABV, and, according to the bottle, it’s less than 30 days old. This moonshine sells in the US for between $6 to $12 (Instagram followers confirmed buying it for $6 in NYC!). It looks like it was made in the deep south at a rusty old distillery running out of someone's bathtub. Despite some misdirection, it’s actually made by Heaven Hill Distillery (behind incredible bourbons such as Evan Williams and Elijah Craig).
The Heaven Hill connection likely explains why Georgia Moon Corn has appeared on LCBO shelves. While it’s great to see the LCBO importing unique barely aged white dog, I do take issue with the price. In Ontario we’re accustomed to paying more for our liquor. Typically, though, the uplift is somewhere between 75% and 100% as compared to the same whisky sold in the US. The LCBO is charging a whopping $32.95 per bottle for Georgia Moon Corn. That's 5.5x more than the cheapest price in the US or 2.75 times the most expensive price.
Even by LCBO standards, selling a $6-$12 product for $32.95 seems excessive. As far as I can tell, the cheapest 750ml 40% ABV spirits available at the LCBO are Canadian Club and Cutty Shark. Surely Georgia Moon Corn Spirit could have been priced in that same $25 range. But would that even be the correct price?
Putting Georgia Moon Corn in the same pricing class as very affordable Canadian whiskies and blended scotches misrepresents the quality of this product. Ideally, private markets establish price based on competition. Government monopolies have no such burden. To me, that places the burden of pricing spirits correctly on the LCBO.
I don’t know how the LCBO decides on price. It is possible that there are existing agreements that prevent the price of Georgia Corn Spirit to go any lower. However, if that’s the case, do the consumer a favour and don’t include moonshine. At the current LCBO price-point, it’s ridiculous. In fact, I’m not even as annoyed at the price as I am at the fact that those same shelves could, instead, be filled by any number of excellent $18 whiskies uplifted to $32.95.
Are there other oddly priced spirits? Let me know bellow!
Side-note: The LCBO imported the cheaper 40% ABV Georgia Corn Spirit. There is a 50% ABV Georgia Corn Spirit that’s generally available for around $14 in the United States. The LCBO also included Georgia Moon Apple Pie Corn Spirit at $29.95 and bottled at 35% ABV.