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If memory serves, the story behind this whisky is something like someone somewhere found a bunch of old barrels of rye whisky forgotten in the back of the warehouse, and it was tasted, and it was good (oh, if only I had a nickel for every time I heard that story...) In this case, however, it might actually be true. This is a very limited release, and I believe at the time of writing this rare whisky is now gone.
The standard Collingwood offering is a rather corn-forward, quite sweet blended whisky that is unique in that it is mellowed by staves of toasted maplewood that floats in the whisky while it is resting in stainless steel vats (after full maturation). The whisky we are tasting tonight, however, is a 21 year old rye whisky (not sure if it is 100% rye or not) that is of a completely different style and flavour than the standard release.
The colour is a deep copper. On the nose you are hit by something extremely floral - a strong soapy coriander-like hit, but almost artificial. To me, this is a huge weakness in this whisky. I want to say limoncello but it is more like those cottage spiral lemon mosquito repellents. Pine needles. Cloves. But overall, quite perfumy. On one hand, it is a rather pleasant garden aroma (though very strong) but it doesn't smell like whisky, let alone like rye whisky. Water makes things even more soapy and floral - not welcome.
On the palate, much less soapy but still has that artificial tang. Metallic. A hint of spice, and with a lot of indefinable herbal notes, as well as anise. Lots of citrus (again with the lemon) and eventually fairly sour. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it simply doesn't work for me. As with the nose, water is not helpful.
The finish is mouth-drying, short-to-medium with more herbs and...garlic? Have I gone mad? What is this? It has received excellent reviews (Davin de Kergommeaux scored this a 4 out of 5, and I know many Canadian whisky aficionados who love this.) I've given this more than a fair shot - I've tasted it numerous times, made Manhattans out of it, etc - my bottle is almost empty - but despite it's rarity, great reviews and the accolades my friends have heaped upon it - I simply don't like it. I suspect it may be 100% rye only because there is no sweetness to this, that can be attributed to corn or anything else. One-note, too floral, too artificial tasting. I'm not a big fan of the standard Collingwood release (which I scored a 71 last year), but for different reasons - these two whiskies are miles apart, but I don't particularly like either of them.