Last year we didn’t receive any true rye-based whiskies, and so we were excited to get a bunch of them this year enabling us to create this category for 2018! Some are bottles that have long been commercially available while others are new releases or barrel samples, but it was great to see many distilleries producing the essence of what defines Canadian whisky.
Here are the ryes we tasted blind, in the order we tasted them. Results at the bottom!
Glynnevan 12 year old 100% Rye – 45%
The Authentic Seacoast Distillery hasn’t been open for 12 years, but they’ve managed to source a 12 year rye from elsewhere in Canada, and put it through a secondary barreling on their property in Guysborough, NS before bottling at 45% ABV.
- Nose. Fruit, guava, light rye spice, light breadiness, oak, sweet,
- Palate. Orange liqueur, rye spice, spicy, oak, sweet somehow for a rye. Light mint
- Finish. Nutmeg, oak, light spice. Baking.
Overall thoughts: quite nice with some very obvious rye notes and a few nice surprises on the palate.
Lot No. 40 – 43%
One of the first 100% rye whiskies in the modern Canadian whisky era, the current edition is entirely unmalted rye that has been column and then copper pot-distilled at the Hiram Walker Distillery in Windsor.
- Nose. Bread dough, light chocolate, caramel, Werther’s, butterscotch, no smoke. Herbal. apple
- Palate. Very light spice, doesn’t taste as much like a rye, lightly vegetal, Orange. Light oak. Young wood.
- Finish. Cinnamon, orange, earthy.
Overall thoughts: a light tasting rye with some nice bready notes that’s less spicy than most.
Persian Empire 100% Rye Whisky – 40%
A little known distillery in Peterborough, Persian Empire has been around since 2006, primarily making unaged spirits and liqueurs. They have been aging whiskies for a few years, including this 100% rye, in virgin Hungarian oak barrels.
- Nose. Young, green wood, acetone, varnish, sawdust, watered down apple juice
- Palate. Varnish, sawdust, over-ripe apples, fairly rough. Ethanol.
- Finish. Long, ethanol lingers.
Overall: this doesn’t display typical Rye characteristics, and tastes quite young. After the reveal, we agreed that Hungarian oak might not be the best vehicle for this whisky, and since its age wasn’t revealed, we’re quite certain this maybe should have been included in the whiskies-in-progress category.
Maison Sivo Le Rye Whisky – 42%
A small farm-based distillery on the southern border of Quebec, we had Sivo’s ‘Essence du’ line-up last year and saw a lot of potential. Their whiskies recently hit 3 years old, and this Rye is a blend of 2/3 locally grown Quebec rye and 1/3 malted barley. It’s aged in new 225L European oak, and finished in Port barrels.
- Nose. Caramel, light banana, yeasty, bready, light vegetal, some fruit
- Palate. Button mushroom, caramel, rye spice, strong oak, some light fruit, banana, baking spices, rye, malty and vegetal – tastes like a malted rye. Papaya, apple.
- Finish. Cinnamon, oak, apple.
Overall thoughts: a very nice rye with some great fruit notes and strong wood influence.
Kinsip Cooper’s Revival – 42%
Kinsip is the rebranded 66 Gilead after an ownership change just over a year ago. Most of the previous products were re-branded under the Kinsip label, but this is the first new product they’ve put out. It’s certainly related to the old Crimson Rye, but with some nuances. It’s a 90% rye blend with 10% corn whisky to add some body, aged in wine casks from Prince Edward County. The new bottle is a custom design, and the product should be on LCBO shelves now.
- Nose. Sawdust, coconut, rye spice, some sweet fruit.
- Palate. Young wood, sweet, caramel, earthy, spice, cumin, musty, rubber, sawdust, light fruit.
- Finish. Short, spicy, light sweet.
Overall thoughts: some nice spice with a few unique notes that still tastes a little young, but pleasant.
Best-in-Category: Sivo Rye
Runner-Up: Kinsip Cooper’s Revival
Honourable Mention: Glynnevan 12 year 100% Rye
Some fantastic ryes being made by distilleries large and small! Lots of distilleries with ryes in progress too, so we hope to see this category grow over the new few years.