Each year we receive the Canadian equivalent of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, called the Northern Border collection from J.P. Wiser’s. Sadly this year I couldn’t go to the tasting that typically happens to try them.
Luckily, as part of a tasting, there were two of the whiskies hanging out as open whiskies ready to sip on.
So let’s see how they were, shall we?
Up first we have Lot 40 Cask Strength Third Edition, and look, let’s be honest: If you’ve read my previous reviews of NBC, this is the one I target each and every time. I’m a fan of cask strength Canadian whiskies. They really show off more of the subtle notes that should be in the whiskies we sell but money stops us.
So how does this year differ? 75% of the whisky was doubly-aged in brand new French oak barrels, rather than 100% in new oak.
I’m always a fan of trying new casks on a whisky. Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: $90 CAD
Number of bottles: 5,460
Colour: Write down colour? Me? Why would I do that? Dammit past me…
Nose: Wheat, a ton of caramel, cinnamon, playdoh
That’s quite a bit of caramel going on. Nothing really interesting going on… some spice, an odd note that isn’t totally off, some wheat.
Yeah, I don’t hate it, no rough notes. Bit unbalanced.
Taste: Sour wheat, burnt sugar, peach, maple
Wait, why did someone write down Unicorn blood here? This doesn’t have that note at all!
Scratching out what I assume was /u/devoz having a laugh, there’s a mix of interesting unique sour and grain notes and simpler wheat/grain and caramel notes here. I’m looking for some spice, something else. Heck, even some dill would be welcome.
Not really much though.
Finish: Mineral, alcohol, plastic, caramel, bread
Mineral, nice. Rough alcohol? Not so much. Plastic note? Not loving it. Bread and caramel? Nice enough, I like those things.
Conclusion: Didn’t work out this year. Glad they tried new things. I really do enjoy them. But this? This wasn’t enough. I get the feeling this was too young, or they wanted to try something simpler. Frankly, it was missing some of the strong, commanding notes of before.
Oh well. Maybe next time try Port Casks. Or some kind of new and interesting yeast.
Pike Creek 21 Oloroso Finish is the newest release from Pike Creek. Look, again, I liked the first Pike Creek. Then they had to change the casks, and I was okay with it. Since then the previous two casks haven’t wowed me.
So when offered this one, I was okay about it. Oloroso wasn’t that different than any other whisky out there. But the last ones weren’t wowing me and they were different. Perhaps we need some of the tried and true casks to get it going.
Let’s see, shall we?
Price: $90 CAD
Cask Type: Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish
Number of bottles: 4,410
Colour: 5Y 8/10
Nose: Cherry syrup, wheat, musty, plum, nutty
Alright, strong sherry note. Some wheat, some dusty note, more sherry nutty/plum notes.
Really I don’t get too much of the Canadian whisky, and given the age, I’d expect some, however, the cereal note is trying.
Taste: Hazelnut, molasses, cherry, icing sugar
Nutty, some strong sugary notes, some cherry. It’s a bit strong on the raw sweet note but it’s fruity enough to be nice to sip on.
Finish: Hazelnut, cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg, mineral
Spicy, brown sugar, more spice, and a nice mineral note. All in all what you’d expect from a sherried whisky. Not quite strong enough to be a sherry bomb but I like the Xmas type notes.
Conclusion: Nice, alright sherry based whisky. Certainly nice to sip on, a bit sweet, but I think it’s an improvement on the European Oak Pike Creek. If you picked this up because you like sherry whisky then you’re good to go.
If, on the other hand, you picked this up in comparison to other 21-year-old whiskies on the market, you’re not in luck. If I had to guess I’d say this is mostly grain whisky and it needs more time. I hope they end up finding something more next time. That all said, it’s far less expensive and easier to obtain than some of those 21-year-olds. So I’d say try each of these before you buy.
World Whisky reviews #390-1, Canada reviews #129-30, Whisky Network reviews #1890-1