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Collingwood Canadian whiskey is a fine bang-for-the-bucker with a mild but unique flavor profile. It’s distilled at the Brown-Forman Canadian Mist distillery in Ontario, with the same mashbill and blending process as their eponymous whiskey: a base spirit distilled from corn and malted barley is blended with a rye spirit after each has had a three-year rest in oak barrels.
It’s the extra twists and turns from this point through which the standard Canadian Mist evolves into Collingwood. It’s given a bit of extra cask maturation (although the distillery is a bit coy as to exactly how much extra), then transferred to stainless steel marrying vats to which toasted maple wood staves have been added. The result is mellow and delicate, yet somehow devoid of much maple influence. This is not necessarily a drawback.
Neither bold nor challenging, Collingwood is a bit too tame for my palate. But there’s certainly nothing here to dislike, so it makes for a decent evening-starter before moving on to the stronger stuff. Tasting notes based on a new bottle. I’ll return to it in a few months’ time and add some notes to the comments if any drastic changes take place.
Nose: Floral, fruity, and very quiet. It’s so soft, in fact, that this may be the first whisk(e)y I’ve nosed with nary a trace of alcohol sting. Like a bouquet of roses that’s been lightly sprayed with some vanilla and caramel. Other aromas are so fine and fleeting as to defy positive identification, but I think I get some shortbread cookies, rye grain, grapes, bananas, and a fresh-opened roll of Five Flavors Life Savers candy. Quiet, yes, but with enough going on such that it’s never boring.
Palate: Smooth, sweet, floral, and a bit grainy. Maybe (finally) a touch of maple after a long wait. The tartness of some dark fruits (cherries, sour apples, grapes) is balanced with some tea and tobacco. A little pepper-and-cinnamon kick adds the only slight touch of heat in the entire experience.
Finish: A quick blast of fruits, flowers, and pepper that quickly subsides, although it takes a fair amount of time to disappear completely. The final fadeout is a bit too bitterly floral, but it’s subdued and takes a long time to arrive.
I can recommend this whiskey, if only because it’s reserved enough to offend no one. The flavors may be low-keyed, but they’re tasty and plentiful. Much has been made of Collingwood’s unique bottle, which one might mistake for a five-year supply of after shave. I think the folks at Brown-Forman knew what they were doing here. Heck, if I owned a distillery, I might be tempted to use a unique, even ugly, bottle (filled with great whisky, of course). The result would be exactly what’s happening with Collingwood: it’s got people talking about it.