Thanks to /u/boyd86 for sharing this
So for those of you in free areas that aren’t afraid of alcohol being sold “beside their cheese, like some sort of barbarian” (paraphrase of one of our political leader’s reaction to alcohol being sold in stores), here in Ontario, Canada, we have something called the LCBO. It’s a province run alcohol store. And also the only place you can buy spirits.
Up until 1969 you actually had to request a clerk go get your alcohol. And up until 2000 most of the stores only begrudgingly stocked anything more than the bare minimum of selections.
In general, they train some people to know about beer and wine. And every so often someone accidentally learns about spirits while working there. It’s not really ubiquitous. In an attempt to actually try at their jobs they’ve been releasing some store picks.
As you can imagine I’m not the biggest fan. Something that is a hobby and should be treated with some respect is run the same way as most fast food stores without the requirement of a smile.
This leads up to Maker’s Mark Private Select LCBO Director’s Cut 2019, a store selection of Maker’s Mark. So when this was brought along to a tasting that happened an embarrassing amount of time ago, I decided to try a sample.
Can the LCBO pick a bottle? Hard to say. Rumour is they request the distilleries to pick for them, which causes an issue for whisky nerds like myself, as it doesn’t give us an idea of the ability/preferences of the person picking.
So can Maker’s Mark pick a cask for one of the larger alcohol purchasers on the planet? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: $90 CAD at the LCBO
Casks Staves Used: Code 0 | 0 | 3 | 4 | 3
Colour: 10YR 6/8
Nose: Maple, carrot cake, oak, cereal
Wow. Maple. From a Canadian exclusive whisky.
Am I a joke to you? I get it: We have maple. I’m happy we have trees, rather than our neighbours who have guns, bears, or drug dealers (not the legal happy kind [granted ours get an untold privilege that others don’t so maybe that’s not cool to mention]).
But maple? Sigh… Ok, there’s some nice spice, some of that nice cake-flavour that you associate with carrot cake. Not quite a spice cake level of spice. Simpler notes of vanilla and caramel around the edges.
Taste: Maple candy, oak, tannic, orange drink
Cool, more maple. We must all be sucking trees left and right up here like there’s $100 at the end of the arbour bukkake.
Good balance with some tannic notes. Water added this cheap orange note I didn’t love, but it’s not turning me off completely.
Finish: Orange candy, anise, cinnamon, earth
Thank goodness the orange gets better and the maple gets the fuck out of here. More spice, good earthy finish.
Conclusion: Why did it have to have Maple? We already have a predominant maple note in our whisky. We don’t need more maple touched whisky. It’s a bad idea.
That said and ignoring my inherent angry self-referential bias, this isn’t a bad whiskey. Sure, that’s annoying to have a flavour that’s popular here already. That was a misstep. Or maybe it wasn’t, because people buy Canadian whisky because… I don’t know, they hate money?
Suffice to say this is balanced, it was nice to have, and it had some surprises. Try if you can.
Bourbon review #262, Kentucky review #170, Whiskey Network review #1943