Our inaugural tasting’s single malt category was a highlight, and as primarily Scotch drinkers, we’re always excited to see the progress Canada is making in this category. We have a few repeats and a few new entrants in the category this year and were very excited to see how they stacked up.
As always, these were tasted blind and are presented in the order in which we tasted them. Our picks are at the bottom of the post.
Persian Empire Persian Empire Double Smoked Single Malt – 40%
The first of two from Persian Empire of Peterborough in this category, this single malt is aged in new charred Hungarian oak, with the addition of smoked Hickory chips for the last few months of aging.
- Nose. Peach drink, bit of spice, malty, very sweet… all together smells a bit like peach schnapps.
- Palate. Sweet, musty, peach, fruity, pastry, very sweet. Some spice. Earth. Very floral. Sugar.
- Finish. Peach, earth, floral. No wood influence.
Overall Thoughts: this is an incredibly unique single malt that tastes a bit more like a liqueur. Would be good in a cocktail to replace any sweet liqueur. Upon reveal, very surprised that we didn’t get any smoke or wood notes from this.
Maison Sivo Le Single Malt Whisky – 42%
We had Sivo’s Essence du Single Malt last year and felt it was lacking a little something. This Single Malt has hit 3 years of age in their virgin European oak casks, and then finished in Sauternes casks.
- Nose. Banana, floral, sweet, cereal, earthy, yeasty, light vegetal
- Palate. Sweet, banana, earth, fruity, yeast, vegetal, more depth. Oak, vanilla.
- Finish. Medium, black tea, oak.
Overall Thoughts: very nice malt with a good balance of sweet, floral, fruity and wood notes. Upon reveal: the Sauternes finish really gave this some new character that was missing last year.
Persian Empire 6 year old Single Malt – 40%
The second from Persian Empire in the category, this malt spent 6 years in new Hungarian oak with extra thick staves.
- Nose. Floral, citrus, lemon, sweet
- Palate. Lemon, floral, sweet, ginger, soapy, apple, cinnamon. Pineapple.
- Finish. Sweet, lemon, floral. Very coherent across the board. Cedar.
Overall Thoughts: the consistency of this one across the board is quite nice, and while it’s not overly reminiscent of a malt, there’s a ton of potential here.
Shelter Point Single Malt, 2017 Distiller’s Select – 46%
Made from two-row barley and double copper-pot distilled, this single malt is NCF and uncoloured, aged in American oak. Last year, the 2016 edition wasn’t quite there yet, so we were interested to see how this one would perform in the 2018 tasting.
- Nose. Cereal, salty, sweet
- Palate. Salty, spice, malty, fruit, tastes a bit like a young highland. Earthy, honey. Pineapple. Cocoa.
- Finish. Chocolate, coffee, spice, salty, honey.
Overall thoughts: If we tasted this without knowing it was a Canadian single malt, we’d likely guess it was a Highland Scotch. Very nice malt.
Kinsip Single Malt – 44%
Kinsip pulled a barrel sample of their still-aging single malt for this tasting, currently sitting at approximately 5 years of age. This chocolate malt is aged in second use Canadian whisky barrels and hasn’t hit the market yet.
- Nose. Vegetal, mineral, bit of rubber, acetone, almost a light peat. Salty.
- Palate. overly ripe vegetables, caramel, ash, beets, earth, quite different from the nose. Plastic.
- Finish. Beets, earthy, ash.
Overall thoughts: this has a nice nose that promises something like an Islay Scotch, but the taste is a bit incongruent with the nose. Might need more time in the cask, or could benefit from a finish.
Lohin McKinnon VQA Black Sage Single Malt – 43%
Lohin McKinnon’s regular single malt won this category last year, so we were excited to receive the Black Sage Vineyard wine-barrel finished edition for 2018. The team at Central City is innovating in the whisky space using different malts, finishes and blends, and we hope to see more of their products make their way east of BC.
- Nose. Fruity, sweet, sugary, cereal,
- Palate. Spice, apple, cinnamon, brown sugar, molasses. Cloves. Touch of tropical fruit.
- Finish. Similar to palate. Cereal. Cloves. Malty.
Overall Thoughts: a nice balance of malt, fruit and cereal with some sweets and spice.
Best-in-Category: Shelter Point Single Malt 2017 Distiller’s Select
Runner-Up: Maison Sivo Single Malt
Honourable Mentions: Lohin McKinnon VQA Black Sage
There are some fantastic single malts being made coast to coast, and many more out there that weren’t involved in this event. This is a category some of the larger distillers should be getting into, as the potential for Canada as a major player in the single malt space is enormous!