Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Collingwood Canadian Whisky: Toasted Maplewood Mellowed

Canadian whisky is, to many, the least exciting major whisky region in the world.  When you think of Canadian whisky, you think of "CC" Manhattans and bottom shelf booze.  Also, I've been burned by boutique Canadian whisky before.  But I read an article by Davin De Kergommeaux in the latest Whisky Advocate mag about how Canadian whisky is good for summer due to its generally lighter profile.  The article points out that despite the trends of specialty bourbons and single malts, "tanker truck after tanker truck filled to the brim with Canadian whisky streams, seemingly unnoticed, from Canadian distilleries into the U.S."  Popular doesn't equal good, but still.  I had been eyeing up this bottle for a while now, and the article pushed me over the top.  It doesn't hurt that it's produced by Brown Forman, makers of Jack Daniels and Woodford Reserve.  They know their way around brown liquor. 

Disclaimer: the following description of the process is paraphrased from  The spirit is first triple distilled in copper column stills at the Canadian Mist Distillery (Apparently, Canadian Mist makes two spirit bases, one with Ontario corn and western barley, and one rye based).  The recipes are aged and eventually blended.  When the final result is married in stainless steel, toasted maplewood staves are added to the vats to mellow the whisky a bit further.  This is not unfamiliar territory, as Tennessee whiskies have long been mellowing their product using maple.  It's new to Candian whisky, though it makes sense, as they have plenty of maple up there.  Chris Morris, master distiller for Brown Forman, also recently put out a limited edition maplewood edition of Woodford.  But enough with the backstory.  FYI this whisky is 80 proof.  Let's give it a go.

Color: Light, due in part to the proof, I'm sure.  I'd like to learn more about how mashbills affect color, as well, but not tonight.

Nose: Hmm, a bit astringent.  I get some fruit, like pears.  No noticeable maple.

Taste: The first thing I notice is a pretty rich mouthfeel on this one.  I'd say that's pretty rare on a $25 bottle.  The pear is there in the taste, too.  It's pretty sweet, not in a bad way.  Like maple syrup.  This may satisfy your sweet tooth.

Finish: No joke despite the low proof.  Mellow, yes, but just enough burn to make its presence known.

Value: Solid.  I would recommended this as a low risk change up to your usual lineup.   

Intangible: The first Canadian I've had that I really liked.  I wonder if I gave Forty Creek, a craft Canadian whisky, a raw deal?  Maybe my palate was too accustomed to a certain flavor profile and I am more open minded now.  Then again, no one at the whisky part liked it...Some folks online say the Collingwood bottle looks like dad's aftershave, but I think it's quite handsome.  Takes up some shelf space, though.

Here's the brief description from, for the record: "Dark fruits, Concord grapes, roses and spring flowers with a rich and creamy mouthfeel. Split cherry firewood with earthy rye and tingling hot pepper. Floral & Fragrant." 

I don't know about all that, but it was pretty decent stuff.

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