Thanks to /u/devoz for sharing these.
North of 7 is Ottawa’s first ever micro distillery. For some of you, you understand that starting a distillery is difficult. For others, you know starting one in Ontario is very difficult.
That said, new laws have been put in place to help new distilleries here, so here’s hoping we go down to the normal “kinda hard” level of the rest of the country.
Back to the distillery at hand: We’re very luck to have a micro distillery, even in our country’s capital. It’s not easy.
Two Ontario locals named Greg Lipin and Jody Miall loved bourbon after many trips to Kentucky for rock climbing trips. As opposed to rock walking trips, which the rest of us call bourbon trails.
After a good climb, they needed something, I assume, to steal their nerves. So they drank bourbon. And developed a love for it. So much so, they created their own micro distillery.
The distillery includes a small ‘rickhouse’, three stills, a bottling line, an excise warehouse, and a storefront with a tasting area. The rickhouse is specifically not heated, even in the sometimes bitter cold of Ottawa, as the heat changes helps the maturation.
Currently North of 7 makes a Vodka, a Gin, a Rum, and a Whiskey. Yeah, with an e. Because it’s bourbon style.
Also they hate the monarchy. Maybe.
The plan for the whiskies includes 5 different types: A four grain bourbon style whiskey, a traditional bourbon style whiskey (corn-rye-barley), a wheater style bourbon (corn-wheat-barley), a 95%/5% barley mash and then finally a 100% malted barley that will be aged in their used oak barrels.
Everything will be aged a minimum of 3 years, as per the requirement for Canadian whisky. They also age in 53 gallon oak barrels from Independent Stave Company.
Basically they are doing things the American way. The first whiskey they’ve released is their four grain whiskey mashbill, and the young rye is coming out later in December.
Today I have the first two barrels to try. Well, the whiskey from the barrels. The first two single barrels.
The mashbill is the same for each of these: A mixture of purple corn, yellow corn, malted barley, wheat, and rye. All distilled on-the-grain and all roasted and milled prior.
Let’s see how they taste, shall we?
North of 7 Single Barrel Whisky – Barrel #1
Price: $60 CAD
Colour: 2.5Y 8/8
Nose: Ethanol, oats, maple, grass, wheat, corn
Strong, harsh nose on this one at first. Given time, some maple, grass, and wheat notes. However it’s a little rough.
Taste: Lemon, orange, wood, ethanol
Not a bad taste. It’s young, and simple, however the ethanol eventually comes out, rather than some whiskies where that’s the first thing.
So it’s backwards from the nose then. It starts with nice citrus, and then goes alcohol based. The nose was more cereal, but with alcohol first.
Finish: Pepper, chemical, wheat
Finish needs work. It’s hot, chemical. Hard to even pick out flavours beyond alcohol.
Conclusion: Not enjoyed barrel #1. I think it was pulled too quickly, personally. Needs more time for the alcohol to develop.
Finish is barely there. That said, I was impressed with the nose and didn’t mind it once the alcohol notes subsided. The taste was smooth, though still has some of that burn.
North of 7 Single Barrel Whisky – Barrel #2
Price: $60 CAD
Colour: 2.5Y 8/8
Nose: Floral, oak, malt, mint, sandalwood
Okay, wait… I actually double check with my fellow reviewers to make sure I didn’t mix up the bottles, somehow, in the few seconds I reached for them.
It turns out that no, I’m not an accidental magician.
Completely different. Floral, oak, nice malt note, great mint, and that interesting sandalwood element that is rare. I really enjoy this nose, and while I liked the last one, there’s more to this.
Taste: Cloves, vanilla, floral/soap, sand
Lots of soap. More rye element here than before, nice amount of spice. It’s not going to blow your mind, however the barrels vanilla has paired well.
Simple, yet nice.
Finish: Cinnamon, eggbread, hot, wheat, cloves, floral
So don’t get me wrong: The finish is hot, and it’s young. However with all of the spice and heat that comes from alright young whiskies, there’s some floral and creamy/bready aspects here that are unique. Sets it aside from the rest.
Conclusion: When I tried barrel #1, I felt bad, because these guys are just starting out and it’s young whiskey. Then when I tried barrel #2, I was blown away. And reminded that single barrels can be whack, yo.
This has some disjoint qualities, don’t get me wrong. There’s a floral vein, but not too strong or distinct to make out what kind of flower. It’s soapy, can be heavy handed with spice, and overall is young.
However it’s also quite interesting they were able to pull this off. It’s quite tasty, and would be the one I’d go for every time.
I honestly have no idea what the eventual “profile” this distillery’s whiskey will have, and maybe they don’t either. It’s still coming into it’s own. However I’ll be watching for their next releases, as they’ve gotten my attention.
World Whisky reviews #262-263, Canada reviews #89-90, Whisky Network reviews #1144-1145