Pike Creek 21 European Oak / Gooderham & Worts 11 Souls / Lot 40 11 Cask Strength

Northern Border Collection.jpg

Thanks to the Toronto Whisky Society for pouring me these.

Here we are in the second year of the Northern Border Collection. If you missed last year, well you’re useless and should feel bad. Oh, wait, no. That’s just the voices in my head directed at myself. What I meant to say is I feel sorry for you.

This year has now been released, and we have four new whiskies to look up. Feel free to search for my review of the Wiser’s 35, of which I was lucky enough to try before this.

Pike Creek 21 European Oak.jpeg

What’s changed? Well up first we have Pike Creek 21 European Oak. Similar to last year we have a blended whisky from Pike Creek, yet with an extra decade on it. Also, a portion of the whisky has been finished in French and Hungarian oak.

Thus the name. Because Hungary hasn’t been given up to Russia just yet.

What’s the effect on a whisky finish by Hungarian and French oak? Well, I’ve had a few French oak ones, and typically they have more red fruits. And Hungarian is rumoured to be used to finish High West to take the edge off, like weed after a bender.

So let’s see what it does with Canadian whisky, shall we?

Price: $99.95 CAD at the LCBO

Region: Canada

Casks used in Finish: French and Hungarian oak

Abv: 45%

Colour: 10YR 7/10

Nose: Corn, ginger, cereal, alcohol

Younger than I was expecting nose. Lots of cereal-based flavours. I almost think this is what the Hungarian oak does? Either that or impales the other flavours.

Wait, that’s Romania? Dammit, wrong country.

Hot, cereal-based nose.

Taste: Orange, brown sugar, corn, plum

Alright, less alcohol forward, cereal-based than the nose. Good news. That said, there are quite a bit of muted aspects here. Some sweetness going on though.

Time gives you a bit of plum. So that’s something. I guess.

Finish: Ginger, caramel, cocoa, beets, lemon

Spice finally starts to pair itself with some fruit, rather than the two sitting apart like political parties in this day and age.

Lots of earth, more sweetness, and all of it still somewhat muted.

Conclusion: Muted Ginger cookie. What we have here is two different directions for one whisky. On the one hand, this release is 45% (well, the two that came out are). On the other, we have light elements like these delicate oak barrels that scream out for the max strength to truly get them.

Instead what we ended up with was very muted, hard to pick apart, and parts that didn’t seem to reach out and get to one another. At best this is an okay Canadian whisky. Interesting idea, let’s save it for full strength next time.


Gooderham & Worts 11 Souls.jpeg

Gooderham & Worts 11 Souls is up next, and as part of this, they sacrificed the eleven children that were raised in the distillery on a diet of pure rye and corn. These children were foretold to bring about the end of the world or a really nice Canadian whisky.

Oh, wait, that’s a different release. Let’s leave that one for the next Apocalypse.

In fact, the name is based on the 11 children that William Gooderham adopted on his way to Canada. So I feel like a dick making a sacrifice joke now.

In recognition of this great selfless act, 11 spirits were used to create this blend. Which is pretty much the nerdiest type of thing you can do with whisky. In Canada at least.

So what do eleven souls taste like? Let’s see, shall we?

Price: $99.95 CAD at the LCBO

Region: Canadian

Grains: Brasetto Rye, Rye, Rye Malt, Red winter wheat, Barley, Barley Malt, Corn

Stills used: column still, double column, still, pot still

Cask Types: Ex-bourbon and new oak

Abv: 49%

Colour: 2.5Y 8/10

Nose: Ginger, lemon-lime soda, almond, hay/dead leaves

Ok, so before we had ginger and just some cereal to go with it. Here we have that acidity, that ginger, and then some vegetal and nuttiness to go with it.

It’s a good examination in contrasting and complementary flavours. Here we have an Autumn like flavour combination that differs enough to entice, whereas before we had rough edges and too similar of notes.

Taste: Ginger, oatmeal, orange, pine, chocolate

Cereal forward in a good way. There’s this earthy, mossy, almost chocolatey flavour combination going on.

Heck, I don’t even particularly like orange in my chocolate and have considered combining the eleven children of the Apocalypse to wipe out that idea, and I enjoyed this.

Finish: Limeade, chocolate, mint, rosemary

Ah, that’s too bad. On the one hand, you still have that chocolate, lime, and mint that really hits home, along with the rosemary. On the other hand, it pulls back a bit here. Needs more herbal notes.

That said it does end nicely.

Conclusion: Danish food/chocolate bomb idea. That herbal mix with a cereal-based thing that I’ve encountered very little is interesting.

Frankly, I didn’t know what to think of this one. I really thought it was a gimmick. And then I tried it and was drawn in. This is blending at it’s best. If the new Brasetto rye is at the heart of this, bring on more of it. Let’s plant a bunch of it. Now.

All in all, this is something to pour for friends who have given up on Canadian whisky. Cause as far as I’m concerned, this should be the future of our whisky.


Lot 40 11 CS.jpeg

Lot 40 11 Year Cask Strength is the big mama jama. Look, let’s be honest, it’s what most people who will ever read this are here for.

It’s 100% rye, cask strength, and last years was heaven. But this years is different. It was bottled after being in the sun during the eclipse. Which does nothing but has a great ring to it.

So let’s see how this tastes and cut to the chase, shall we?

Price: $99.95 CAD at the LCBO

Region: Canada

Abv: 58.4%

Colour: 10YR 7/10

Nose: Caramel, banana, rosemary, malt, orange

Nice caramel and banana to lull you into it, and then this wonderful floral/herbal aspect with orange and malt. It works really nicely. Less spicy than last year on the nose.

Taste: Caramel, banana, rosemary, malt, orange

Checked my notes. I did not, in fact, copy and past them. This mirrors the nose very, very well. Eerily so.

So see above.

Finish: Cinnamon, cloves, thyme, oats, molasses, cereal

Long finish. Wonderful amount of spices, that I would have liked in the taste, but honestly it seemed to do okay without them.

While having a pour of last years gives me more of a blended flavour overall, I really, really like the finish here.

Conclusion: So there you have it. It’s a very fruity, dank banana forward version this year. Yes, it differs, but it still hits all of those rye notes: Herbal, orange, and floral, while focusing on a wonderful caramel and banana flavour, and some cereal interest at the end.

If I seem a little less than enthused, it’s due to this caveat. When I originally wrote this review the bottle was freshly opened. Within 2 weeks of opening, I was around when a friend was trying a sample from the same bottle. I could smell the brine, dill, and pickle from across the table.

Since then two more bottles have been opened, and each of them has gone to dill. So keep that in mind when opening your bottle of this. At the dill stage, I frankly didn’t enjoy it, and it’s something I’ll be watching for on future releases.


World Whisky reviews #338-340, Canada reviews #114-116, Whisky Network review #1601-1603


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