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Collingwood is a fairly unique whisky in that it is blended with staves of toasted maple wood floating on top. So it's not like staves of different oak as part of the barrel (like Compass Box's Spice Tree), but just slabs of wood floatin' around up there in the tank. Hey, why not?
This comes to us from the Canadian Mist distillery in Collingwood, Ontario. Which also happens to be the home of the biggest Elvis festival in North America (a special place, indeed!) My understanding is that they distill their own corn and barley spirit, but rye spirit is imported in from Early Times in Kentucky. Both distilleries are owned by Brown-Forman, which also owns its own cooperage in the US. So the barrels that Collingwood is matured in are made to order at the cooperage, toasted and shipped to Canadian Mist to be filled. While the matured whiskies marry in a stainless-steel blending tank, the maple wood staves are tossed in. And so you have Collingwood.
The colour is a golden caramel. On the nose, buckets of vanilla, tropical fruits, raspberries, marzipan and loads of honey and caramel as well. There is some complexity here but it is a little too overwhelmed by the wood. Water brings the fruit forward.
On the palate, you are first hit with raspberries and blackberries - this is surprisingly fruity! Citrus and grapefruit pith stand out above the typical caramel and vanilla. But combined they are a little too sweet for my taste. Smooth but a little too smooth. Water doesn't seem to do much to the palate except give it a slightly oilier mouthfeel.
The finish is a little dusty and rye-like, though fairly short. While I appreciate the complexity of this whisky, it is simply a little too sweet for me (and makes an extremely sweet Manhattan). My biggest complaint, though, is the packaging - the bottle is a large flask-shaped container with an unwieldy plastic cover that you have to pop off before you unscrew the cap. Looks cool on the bar but awkward to pour.