Thanks to my friend Martha for pouring this at a recent whisky tasting (we all socially distanced and stayed outside and were all fully vaccinated).
It’s been awhile since I reviewed Canadian whisky. I could say something negative there that’s faintly funny while being mean, so I think I’ll keep going.
If you’re in London, Ontario, you’ll notice it differs quite a bit from London, England. If you buy tickets to a London, always read if it’s in Canada or not.
At the old Kellogg manufacturing you’ll find something better than cereal using the name of one of the worst sex-ed teachers ever: Paradigm Spirits Co. Which is good. We need more whisky and less cereals. Have you been to the cereal aisle? It’s like showing up to a Who concert in 1979, except no one gets the sweet release of death and you end up with flavourless grain waste.
Where was I? Oh yes, Paradigm Spirits Co. From the pictures they are using column stills. Which makes sense as they are making gin, vodka, pre-made cocktails, and why I’m writing this, whisky.
So we’re trying their whisky today. Let’s see what they’re bringing out, shall we?
Paradigm 5 First Edition is the first release of whisky from Paradigm. It’s a blend of four grains, all of which have been distilled in column stills and then aged between 5 and 10 years, first in ex-Bourbon casks and then finished in new oak with a light char.
There’s some things I’d love from the company: What are the four grains? I’m assuming it’s rye, corn, barley, and wheat. Was it done with a mashbill like American distilleries, or mixed after like Canadian distilleries? I’m assuming the former.
Finally the distillery opened in December 2020. You have 5 to 10 year old whiskies in here. Was there a previous location used? Was this sourced? I know I’ve heard from other young craft distilleries that they don’t announce when they’ve sourced, but come on guys:
We live in the age of people getting nerdy about stuff. The time when you could pump out random things people won’t dig into ended after WW2. It may be a good idea to share a tad more.
As an aside: Yes, I write the above to make a point and to add levity to these reviews. I did not know the above when I reviewed this, so the score, notes, and everything below this has none of the bias from above.
So let’s get through my nerd rage and see how this tastes, shall we?
Price: $62 CAD
Casks Used: ex-Bourbon Casks (5 to 10 years) and then finished in new oak with a light char (undetermined amount of time)
Colour: 10YR 8/10
Nose: Fruity, cereal, butterscotch, alcohol
Initial fruit, some cereal and sugar notes. Not the roughest nose I’ve ever had. Yes, there’s some raw alcohol there. But it’s young grain whisky, so I’m not too shocked. And the fruit note is something nice.
Taste: Caramel, violets, mineral, earth
Wait a second: No rough cereal or alcohol notes in a brand new distillery whisky? Are you sure this is a Canadian whisky?
No, no, I promised I’d be less negative. Ahem.
Good floral note, interesting mineral and earth. It’s a bit different. Perhaps they used more rye? If so, good on you. Bit simple, but again: You grain whisky that’s been made to have something nice to sip on.
Finish: Floral, butterscotch, plum, chalk
So yes, the obvious rough note is an earthy, bitter element that I can only attribute to a flavour I got when I got in trouble and I had to clean the brushes… Oh, wait, people don’t have chalkboards anymore. Go find some kids writing on the pavement then and lick it. I’ll wait.
Back? Great. It’s a sweet, simple finish with a rough note that gets a bit more screen time than an overpaid actor in an indie film.
Conclusion: There’s a lot of Canadian whisky out there that makes me pause on their first release. This is one of the better ones, and I look forward to what more time can bring from this distillery. The fact that this is the first, and that they took the time to finish it (at least) rather than just sourcing some whiskies and blending them sets it apart.
Do we know if they can recreate different whiskies? We don’t. What we do know is First Edition at least is a fine drinkable whisky. You buy the first whisky a distillery brings out to support them. Or you buy their gin. Just being honest.
At least this one tasted nice. Had more good than bad. It’s still young, it’s still a tad rough, and it’s still simple. But it’s something, and kudos to Paradigm for starting a distillery. It’s not easy, especially in this province.
Paradigm Canadian Heritage Series 19 is fascinating.
Again, we don’t know if Paradigm was fooling around with barrels and whisky back in 2000. I doubt it, only because I’ve done spirit taxes in this country and WOW do you not want to do that.
So I’m assuming this was sourced and released as part of Paradigm. Does that mean you should skip this and buy from the company I think it was sourced from? No. That’s stupid. What are you, an idiot?
Seriously, whisky doesn’t work like that (normally). The fact of the matter is we’re seeing a company take the time and risk to release a 19-year-old single grain Canadian whisky at cask strength. Go on, find another in Canada right now that has that. Didn’t find it? Oh, what a surprise. It doesn’t happen. If it does it goes to Scotland or Texas and we find out about 10 years too late.
So right now, given the note on the type of char, I’d guess this was from Corby. But I don’t know. Nor do I know what single grain was used. They are at Kellogg’s old site, so maybe it’s corn? And then maybe is it unmalted corn or malted corn? It’d be nice to know, but again I feel like there’s this concern if you say where it’s sourced from idiots will buy from that company and expect the same.
Well idiots that doesn’t happen (except with a certain company that has pigs in it’s marketing that buys from Alberta). So let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Price: $155 CAD
Casks Used: Virgin oak barrels with level 2 char
Barrelled in 2000
Stated Age: 19-years-old
Bottle No. 0367 of 2,500
Colour: 10YR 8/8
Nose: Caramel, cream, orange, butter, herbal
If you’re new to whisky, learn from the other newbies at the tasting: This is strong. Again, surprise shouldn’t be there, it’s very, very strong whisky.
Also recently a friend mentioned that from another distillery’s first release that enough water gave him Creamsicle vibes. This has that right off the bat on the nose. Win one for paradigm.
Taste: Corn, caramel, cinnamon, candy, lemon
Cereal, sweet, some spice, some raw sugar notes, and lemon. Typically a single grain whisky doesn’t quite have a full profile before it hits mid 30s. You know, like people and their personalities.
This is showing a bit more complexity. Water opens up to more acidity, and I’m all good with that. But wow is this hot.
Finish: Caramel, cardamon, cinnamon, anise, heather
Spice, more spice, some caramel and heather, and spice. It’s the cinnamon challenge but without the choking part.
Conclusion: Hot as all get out, but you don’t normally get to try Canadian whisky this old or cask strength. It may not be perfect, but I won’t have a chance like this again and I appreciate Paradigm for releasing it.
Do I have issues behind the information on this whisky? Yes. 100% yes. Should grain whisky be released before 30 years? Probably not. But if a certain Scotch group that charges you the same amount as this for a younger grain whisky, then this is fair game.
Also I didn’t expect this to have as much flavour as it did. The use of virgin oak helped a lot. Can’t really speak to the char, as the one website I saw stated a level 2 char is great for quick aging bourbon. Perhaps they treated this like an American corn whiskey.
Suffice to say I enjoyed this, and wish there were more distilleries that would release something like this. Just be a bit more frank, if you can, about the grain used or the sourcing.
World Whisky review #413-414, Canada review #134-135, Whisky Network review #2140-2141