Canadian whisky has always been amongst the most versatile of the world’s whiskies. Scottish, Irish and American distilleries are bound by heavy tradition and strict rules governing the composition of their spirits — which is why Jack Daniels is the battleground between bourbon and Tennessee sour mash. By contrast, Canada takes the best of each tradition but eschews strict classification. We’ve got more room to play than distilleries below the medicine line or across the pond.
That said, whilst Canadian whisky has never been absent the liquor store’s most storied aisle, for a long time what was once our finest export had departed connoisseur’s lists the world over. This sad state of affairs is at an end, though. New whiskies are hitting the shelves, and Wiser’s is bringing back some old favorites.
Pike Creek is a ten-year-old double-barreled whiskey, aged in first-use white oak bourbon barrels, finished in vintage port barrels and bottled in small batches. There’s no electricity in the Pike Creek warehouse, so the volatility of the Canadian climate plays a role in the interaction between whisky and wood. It’s golden amber and the nose is primarily of toffee with underlying notes of sweet dried fruit and spice. Port, pepper and caramel compose the palate, its body is round and it finishes with lingering rye.
Distilled in small batches from a single copper pot still, Lot 40 is something of a Canadian legend. It was created by now-retired master distiller, Michael Booth, from a recipe handed down from his ancestor, Joshua Booth, seven generations ago. Resurrected by Wiser’s current master blender, Dr. Don Livermore, a man who perfectly mixes molecular biology with equal parts artistry and history, Lot 40 is the quintessential Canadian rye whisky. It’s a deep amber colour with a nose of mature hardwood, baked rye and a touch of vanilla. Hints of oak, overripe fruit and sweet toffee over a foundation of bitter rye rule the palate. It warms with a robust body and an earthy finish with touches of hard candy and cloves.
Until recently, Pike Creek and Lot 40 frequently appeared in whisky forums along with the phrase “sadly discontinued”. This would have been an inglorious end to a pair of Canadian legends, but connoisseurs are excited for the return of these venerable sipping whiskies to liquor store shelves this October.
Pike Creek and Lot 40 will be available in 750 mL bottles for $39.99 . Ontarians can start sipping October 14th; the rest of Canada can partake later this fall.