Lot No. 40 Cask Strength is Canada’s version of George T. Stagg in rye format—it’s a powerhouse rye with plenty of peppery notes, deep new oak caramel flavours, and a wallop of herbal notes, orange citrus, and other complex flavours.
The Balvenie continues to flirt with peated whiskies. A Week of Peat is the second in The Balvenie Stories Collection, and this one focuses on Balvenie’s lesser-used flavor component. In fact, they only use heavily peated barley for a week each year! Ian Miller calls peat week the most joyous week of distillation because of the new smells that come from the distillery. After releasing Triple Peat, and Peat Week, how’s A Week of Peat differ from the other expressions?
While it’s sister distillery, Glenfiddich, has been releasing a bunch of innovative products, Balvenie seemed to be in a slumber (with the exception being the Balvenie DCS Compendium series for the mega rich). But in truth, there were products brewing, and we finally have a taste of what’s to come. The Stories Collection is here! It starts with a series of three single malts at three different price-points. The first of the series, The Sweet Toast of American Oak, is finished in virgin American barrels. This has been a growing theme in single malt scotch the last handful of years, so did Balvenie manage to do something different?
Great Northern Distilling is a new Irish distillery that primarily sells vodkas and gins, as most young distilleries do. However, they were able to get their hands on older barrels of whisky, and Burkes Single Cask 14 Year Old is a product of one of those barrels. Bottled at 59% ABV, I was really excited to taste a rare high-proof Irish whiskey.
In 2014, when Suntory purchase Jim Beam, fans speculated on how this new ownership might affect Jim Beam’s whisky. While there have been minor tweaks to the product line over the years, it be difficult to attribute any of them to Suntory—until now.
Henry McKenna was once an affordable bottled-in-bond bourbon that rapidly sold out when it won best whisky in the world at the San Francisco Spirit Awards. It went from affordable ($30s US), to gone, to now being difficult to find for under $50 US.
Mister Sam Whiskey is Sazerac’s continued foray into Canada. The company is in the process of opening a distillery in Montreal, and two years ago they launched High River Canadian whisky. That whisky, sourced from another distillery, entered the market at an affordable price point. Mister Sam Whiskey is a monster of a whisky, with a monster price of $250 per bottle. It distribution is limited to only 1,200 bottles between US and Canada. Spoiler: It’s worth it for most whisky collectors.
The Okinawa Japanese islands slinks down south from Japan toward Thailand. It’s a hot climate, and the home of Awamori, a traditional distilled rice spirit unique to the region. Awamori is thought to be the predecessor to Shochu, a more popular fermented and distilled product made in many parts of Japan.
The Irishman is produced by Walsh Whiskey, the same group that’s behind Writers’ Tears. The Founder’s Reserve Caribbean Cask Finish is a terrific addition to the line-up. From their website:
The Irishman Founder’s Reserve – Caribbean Cask Finish is the second expression in The Irishman Founder’s Reserve Cask Series. It is a limited edition finished in rum casks from the tiny tropical Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. A super-premium whiskey, it is a rare vatting of Single Pot Still and Single Malt whiskeys finished for 6 months in Chairman’s Reserve Rum casks. The release is limited to just 12 casks with 380 bottles per cask. Each bottle is individually numbered and signed by Bernard Walsh.
The brand of Writers’ Tears is affectionally enjoyed by writers, partially because of the name, and also partially because the whisky is just gentle enough to sip without distracting the writer from the task-at-hand. When writing The Whisky Cabinet I went through a few bottles of Writers’ Tears. Back then there was only one type of whisky, but today the brand has expanded, and this is a look at their sherry barrel matured whisky, Red Head.