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BearFace 7yo Triple Oak

A New Face In Canadian Whisky

4 683

@dloewenReview by @dloewen

19th Mar 2019


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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  • Brand: BearFace
  • ABV: 42.5%

Well, this is quite an interesting animal indeed. Seven year old “single grain” whisky, sourced from an undisclosed distillery on the shores of Georgian Bay, and aged primarily in ex-bourban American oak. It’s then moved into tight grain French oak previously holding bordeaux wine, then finished in virgin Hungarian oak. That’s the story in a nutshell. Quite a life for a Canadian whisky, if I do say so! My guess is that “single grain” in this case means corn whisky, and a distillery on Georgian Bay would be Canadian Mist Distillers…better known as the guys who make Collingwood. That’s not fact, just an educated guess! It is confirmed however, that this whisky is chill-filtered, but has natural colour! That’s one feather in their cap, let’s see how this stuff actually stands up!?!

First of all, my feeling is that the final product cannot really be described as complex…layered, maybe, but complex…no. That may seem contradictory to some, but hear me out. When I first stick my nose in the glass, an image flashes through my mind…more of a feeling really. I’m back in my early childhood, let’s say 1987. I used to love rooting through the spaces of the house that we weren’t intended to go, in this case, its the closet of the spare/guest bedroom upstairs. In that closet, were a couple pieces of old luggage…you know the kind, less what we’d call luggage, and more like a suitcase. Somehow, that old luggage made me think of all the places and adventures that suitcase might have seen…as a child, my mind loved to wander…but I digress. So when I stick my nose in the glass, I smell that old moth-ball and vinyl, mixed with leather. A concoction that brings to mind the nostalgia of an old car interior, faded photo albums, and somehow, Christmas! Actually, that makes perfect sense! The next thing that moves in on the nose is dried dark fruits like figs, dates, plumbs. I’m willing to guess that comes from the bordeaux wine barrel influence. Then the scent of those Hungarian oak barrels lingers like a funky piece of spiced Christmas cake. It’s not entirely off-putting, but not great either. It is unique.

The palate follows the very same path as the nose, nothing new here. That’s what I mean about the layers…it travels this path, very predictable, every time. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s layered…not complex. Complexity has a way of surprising you, changing, sometimes shape-shifting. This doesn’t perform those types of tricks, but for what it is, it’s pretty good.

Leave it in the glass for more than ten or fifteen minutes, and these traits get a bit overshadowed by a generic sugar sweetness that comes up and covers things a bit too much for my liking…leaving me with the conclusion, that this is best used as a daily sipper, something you can pour whenever and not think too much about. In fact, in that role, this becomes better than average, a divergence from the norm. And come on, who doesn’t love the smell of an old car, or an old suitcase. This bottle probably won’t make it on my list to “buy again” but I’m happy to have experienced something outside the norm.


Victor commented

@dloewen thank you for your lovingly-executed review. Your care and attention to detail are very evident.

"Grain whisky" tells one three things only: 1) it is whisky, 2) it was made at one distillery only (how many do you need? One.) , and 3) the contents are made from something other than barley-malt. Calling a whisky 'grain whisky' is an obfuscatory relic of the past. For me the term is worse than useless because it announces that it is not telling you what grains are used. The term "grain whisky" is just about as useful to me as posting on the bottle, "This whisky was made from grain." Or, "This whisky contains water." Or, "This whisky was fermented." Or, "This whisky was made with yeast" Or "This whisky was aged in wood." The bottle line: to me labeling a whisky "grain whisky" is simply announcing that the producers will not tell me what it is made from.

Moth ball on the nose? Yummy. Well, not so much.

"Daily drinker" sounds to me like the top corporate desideratum for mass market whisky, Canadian or otherwise. So this succeeds to a good degree in that for which it was intended.

Cheers! .

8 months ago 2Who liked this?

dloewen commented

Thanks for the comment! I completely agree with your diatribe on "grain whisky"...in the case here, the back of the bottle denotes the contents within as "single grain". I'm interested to hear your opinion on what they mean by that. I'm familiar with the Scottish/Irish meaning of "single" (one singular distillery) + "grain" (undisclosed mixture of grains). However, to those in Canada who don't know to break that term into its respective parts, it is misused and misunderstood. I feel like the context with which it's used on the bottle here, looks like it's lay-meaning, as in, "one type of grain only". Specially considering Collingwood would be barrelling it's grains separately for blending AFTER aging, no?

8 months ago 0

Victor commented

@dloewen in this case I find the meaning of "single grain" to be completely obscure, i.e. undefined. We can guess that it refers to the UK tradition of nomenclature or speculate that it means something else. Ambiguity only serves those who do not wish to make a clear and definite statement, which in this case is to say those who do not wish to reveal detailed information about their products. .

8 months ago 1Who liked this?

OdysseusUnbound commented

I rated this one similarly, though I enjoyed it a bit more than you (85pts). I got no mothballs on the nose, but it did get a bit “generic” with time. Still, I found it better than many other middle of the road offerings from Canada. I believe I called it “breakfast whisky”.

“Single Grain” is about as useful a descriptor as “premium”, “rare”, “old”, “special”, “Select”, “Reserve”, “finest”, etc...

8 months ago 0

paddockjudge commented

Hmmm, I wonder if the 9.09 rule applies to single grain?

8 months ago 0

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