A couple of years ago I scored a very interesting bottle from Scotch Whisky Auctions - an old bottle of Seagram's V.O. with a 1974 tax stamp. Although the SWA website says it was bottled in 1974, I believe the tax stamp actually refers to the year it is put in oak. Since the label says this is six years old, this must have been bottled around 1980. When I got the bottle home and gave it a closer inspection, I saw an old duty free stamp - from Taiwan! Very cool! Let's give it a try and compare it to today's Seagram's VO.
The colour is a light gold. On the nose we have toasted oak, wood smoke and freshly sawn lumber. Honey and tons of butterscotch. Furniture polish. Leather. Some rye spice. Buttery. Add water (just a drop) and you get tons more wood smoke (from the charred oak). The nose seems "old", not just in terms of time in the cask but in terms of the age of the bottling.
It's buttery on the palate as well, with lots of caramel and vanilla, rye spice and chewy oak. It's missing the smoke of the nose but it has a delightful mouthfeel. Even creamier with water. Seriously drinkable.
The long finish is warming, with raisins, wood and white pepper. This is wonderful stuff, exactly what you would expect from an old-style Canadian whisky. I truly believe that we are in a new peak era of high quality for Canadian whisky, but something like reminds me that these spirits can become even greater. There is no comparison to today's Seagram's VO, which I scored a 65 about 5 or 6 years ago. Today's bottling shows much more corn, very little age and simply lies there flat.