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66 Gilead Wild Oak

Happy (Belated) Bday Canada! 5 of 7

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@talexanderReview by @talexander

5th Jul 2015


66 Gilead Wild Oak
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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  • Brand: 66 Gilead
  • ABV: 47%

Prince Edward County, in Ontario, is a beautiful area with quaint B&Bs and terrific wineries - it makes for a fantastic long weekend. Spirit your significant other away here and they will love you forever. And - it boasts a micro-distillery: 66 Gilead.

I don't know much about them, but they make for a nice visit as it is on a beautiful farm, and a cooper works on the property. And when you visit, you will see that they are as hand-crafted as Still Waters, if not more so. They have distilled vodka, gin and shochu and have recently done a few whiskies - small batch, non-coloured and non-chill-filtered.

Wild Oak is a bourbon-style whisky, chiefly corn with rye, wheat and "a hint of smoke" (whatever that means). It is distilled in a copper pot still and aged in new charred oak casks.

The colour is a reddish deep gold. On the nose I get sandalwood, strong oak, underripe green banana and a hint of patchouli (which I find unpleasant, but it's minor). Definitely a young whisky, despite the colour - it has some of the qualities of a grappa. There is smoke but I cannot quite place the source - though it's wood, not peat. Cherrywood? Something in it reminds me of a smoky whisky from another micro-distiller, Corsair in Tennessee, called Triple Smoke. A weird note of...Aquafresh (yeah, I know...) Water brings out the rye and more woodsmoke. All over the place but never boring.

On the palate there are more raw wood notes - more pine than oak. Indeterminate herbs, cherries, ginger, chili pepper and that odd sandalwood/patchouli quality. Water evens things out a bit, adding rye spice. Again - there is nothing quite like it but it doesn't fully work.

The finish is spicy but otherwise very nondescript - a bit of oak at the death. Well, this one's a little nuts. On one hand, you can tell it's young. On the other, it's very oaky. How is this possible? New charred oak, which is very unusual as the sole wood influence of a Canadian whisky. Even the colour tells you this has huge wood, despite its youthful qualities. And this one is really hard to score. If I take apart its individual elements - nose, taste, finish and balance - it scores low. But my gut would score it higher overall just because it's so goddamn weird. In other words, it's greater than the sum of its parts. Though as one friend put it, "It's not quite ready for prime time." 66 Gilead is an interesting distillery (and definitely worth a visit) and I'm excited to see what it can do with longer maturation.


Victor commented

The usual reason for big oak influence using new wood but short aging is heavy char. Heavy char opens up the pores of the wood to the maximum possible. It is a common approach with US microdistillers. Personally I don't like to taste heavy char in whisk(e)y and I don't think that using heavy char with short aging usually works very well.

Another possibility for young age but substantial wood influence is the use of smaller barrels. Connosr member @TwinValley makes really excellent whiskey using new charred oak in small barrels, 10 gallons I believe. He gets fabulous flavour at around 60% abv with one year's aging, plus or minus a few months. He also sells his whiskeys at conventional lower abvs for those who don't want to pay the price for his precious few barrel strength bottles.

Yes, 66 Gilead has much opportunity to shine, given additional aging...and distilling experience. Thanks for your review.

8 years ago 0

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