In the first annual Great Canadian Whisky Tasting, we evaluated four categories of Canadian whiskies and spirits. In Part 1, we looked at under-aged spirits and non-whiskies. In Part 2, we’re evaluating four Canadian Single Malts.
Maison Sivó L’Essence du Single Malt – Franklin, QC
This bottle from Sivó is an in-progress single malt made from Quebec malted barley, which undergoes a 4 day fermentation before being distilled in their German stills. It was aged in new Hungarian oak casks and bottled at 42%. The Sivós said they felt this one will benefit from more aging, but submitted it for the tasting anyway as they wanted feedback from TWS.
- Nose: youthful, spirity, malt, cedar, cardboard, sawdust
- Palate: cedar, musty, malty, vegetal, caramel
- Finish: sweat, cedar, young, short, pinesol
- Overall Comments: this was pretty rough, and the consensus was this maybe shouldn’t be fully matured in Hungarian oak, and it could just be used for finishing as others have done. Had some strange flavours and just shows how hard it can be to make a single malt, especially without enough time on your side. Look forward to trying it again when it’s had a couple more years!
Shelter Point Artisanal Single Malt Whisky – Campbell River, BC
Made on Vancouver Island from two-row barley, this single malt is double distilled in their custom copper still in small batches and aged in ex-Jack Daniels barrels. It is uncoloured and non-chill-filtered before being bottled at 46% ABV.
- Nose: green apple, bitter, sour, honey, apricot, lemon
- Palate: bitter, sweet, tart, sour, peach, malty, pepper, grainy
- Finish: grainy, sour, honey, apples, bitter.
- Overall Comments: needs more time to round it out, but could do well with an interesting finish on it. Lots of promise, but not quite there yet.
Central City Lohin Mckinnon Single Malt – Surrey, BC
This single malt is named for the brewer who makes the wort (Gary Lohin) and the distiller who turns it into whisky (Stuart McKinnon). Made from Canadian malted barley, aged in ex-bourbon barrels (for at least 3 years) and bottled at 43%.
- Nose: grassy, buttery, light malt, green apple, slightly sour, flour
- Palate: green apple, malt, grassy, lemon, some butter. like a speyside
- Finish: slight bitterness, light fruit, honey, grass, caramel
- Overall Comments: Not bad for a 3 year whisky, and reminds us of a Speyside. Not overly complex but a decent amount of flavour notes for a young whisky.
Okanagan Spirits Laird of Fintry Single Malt – Vernon, BC
This single malt is made from 100% BC malted barley and release annually through a lottery. It is aged in both French and American oak and is bottled at 46%.
- Nose: apple, cherry, bitter, sweet vermouth, lemon, sugar, grape. not like a whisky at all.
- Palate: anise, sweet, brown sugar, herbal, liqueur, rum, grape soda, caramel
- Finish: weak, licorice, anise, sugar, black tea
- Overall Comments: Tastes more like a fruit brandy or a cocktail than a whisky. Very heavy wine cask influence. A very interesting dram, and stands out among its peers as it’s so different.
- Central City Lohin Mckinnon Single Malt
- Okanagan Spirits Laird of Fintry Single Malt
- Shelter Point Artisanal Single Malt Whisky
- Maison Sivó L’Essence due Single Malt
This category was very hotly contested with most of the reviewers having different rankings. Overall, it’s exciting to see some solid single malts being produced in Canada, and we hope to see more come alive in the near future!