We love a good wine-finished whisky, whether it’s the Red Series from Longrow, an Octomore X.2 release, a double-barreled single malt from Shelter Point and so on and so forth. So when Corby announced they were collaborating with their recently acquired Foreign Affair Winery for a new whisky release we were VERY interested in the results.
Foreign Affair wine club members got a preview of this back in October 2019 when FA was releasing their whisky barrel finished Cab Sauv, and were given the nitty gritty details from Hiram Walker Master Blender Dr. Don Livermore and Winemaker Barclay Robinson, who has since moved on to a new project in BC. This project is somewhat unique as it was really the collaborative brain-child of these two craftsmen, rather than something dreamed up in a marketing meeting.
At the time, we felt it needed a bit more time in the wine barrels, as the notes you’d expect weren’t quite coming through. (The wine on the other hand was phenomenal, and there are a few in our cellars awaiting their moment to really shine in a couple years).
The time for the whisky to shine is fast approaching though, as Corby expects it to hit LCBO shelves by mid-July! Toronto Whisky Society members got a sneak preview of the finished product in May in a virtual tasting with Dr. Don where this was the opening dram of the night.
Some of the experimental drams we tasted had polarized reactions, but this was universally enjoyed by TWS members. Here are some excerpts of the reactions:
- “very wine forward”
- “wine influence very well integrated”
- “the finish is shockingly long. wine finish shines”
- “This is a very easy sipper, (maybe too easy!). it’s on my ‘to buy’ list”
- “dessert whisky”
The whisky is mostly double-distilled corn as is usually the case with Pike Creek releases. This lighter style of whisky enables the barrel finish to really shine through. It also has a small amount of rye in the blend. As usual with his special releases, Dr. Don has hidden a bit of an easter egg in the specs; all of the whisky in the blend comes from 2004 bonds, which is the year of Foreign Affair’s first vintages! After spending most of its life in ex-Canadian whisky barrels, it spent nearly a year in the Appassimento Cabernet Sauvignon barrels from Foreign Affair.
Here are some of the common tasting notes given by TWS members, to whet your appetite as you wait till July. Note, these notes were all discussed blind before members knew what the whisky was!
- Nose: vanilla, cherries, pepper, caramel, brown sugar, raisins, red fruits, honey
- Palate: pepper, vanilla, burnt sugar, cherries, rye bread, leather, orange peel, cola, oak, spice, berries
- Finish: long, honey, red fruit
The LCBO price should be between $60-70 which is also great value for a 15 year old whisky. Eager to taste it next to the 10 year old Rum and Port finishes, and 21yr Oloroso to see the varied impact of the finishes!
P.S. You’re probably wondering about these other experimental drams we tried – while we can’t say much as they aren’t confirmed to ever actually see the light of day commercially, we can tell you that there are some very innovative ideas floating around Dr. Don’s head and blending lab! Stay tuned here as once we know more about upcoming releases, we’ll be sure to share them!