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Caribou Crossing Single Barrel

Average score from 3 reviews and 5 ratings 87

Caribou Crossing Single Barrel

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Caribou Crossing Single Barrel

Bodacious branding for a good whisky. Another great review, thank you.

I find this to be Silk Tassel at its finest...they should have used Gold Tassel. Sazerac purchased more than 100,000 barrels from Corby/McGuiness a few years back and I suspect Caribou Crossing and Royal Canadian Small Batch come from those barrels. It sure would be nice to have some information and a bit of a back story for what is now a $96 investment...instead of a caribou tale, glossy box, Rock Hill Farms decanter, and a Blanton's style stopper with a cheesy maple leaf atop the cork.

Here's a story about Silk Tassel, and I guarantee it will never be printed on a whisky package.

Silk tassel was my 'go-to' dram in high school, probably because it was available by the 'handle'. My gang called them jugs, a half-gallon of liquid joy, that is, we did until told by a barmaid during a road trip to Buffalo, NY, "Honey, why do you call them jugs? Them tiny things ain't jugs, they're handles." as she lifted her blouse and exclaimed, "these are jugs, and you ain't never gonna handle these!"...after that we called them 'nevergonnas'.

Well, I've never had Silk Tassel.....but that is the best damn whisky story I ever heard!!


This is a single barrel bottled by Sazerac, out of a stock of around 200,000 barrels acquired by them in 2010. With the pine and rum notes, I often wonder if that stock was in large part from Hiram Walker distillery. From the stock, so far, two products are produced -Royal Canadian Small Batch and Caribou Crossing, both of which have a similar taste profile. This one, of the two, is quite a bit more expensive - more than twice the price in Ontario, when you can find it.

Nose: A grassy, pine-rich nose, with a hint of dry oak and a bit of an oily presence - the woody notes are pretty strong - oak, pine, and cedar. Some vanilla is present as well, with some corn chips, and hints of buttery caramel. Some nuts and spice come through - sharp cinnamon, allspice and pecans. 20/25 (82%)

Taste: Nicely loaded with spices (cinnamon and a hint of allspice), while retaining a relatively light profile and good body. There are woody notes of oak, pine, and cedar and also maple syrup. There's a nice development of rich, oaky vanilla in the middle too, which is quite nice - in fact, without it, the taste might be a bit boring. Mouthfeel is very nice, though, and this does elevate the drinking experience. It seems to start, and end, with wood - in fact, I think it has a bit too much. 29/35 (83%)

Finish: Cinnamon, and a bit of a buttery flavour and it is a bit nutty with some almonds on the end. A bit too much oak bitterness, I think, and quite dry...but it's reasonably developed and involved. 13/15 (87%)

Conclusion: Enjoyable, but really not that great. similar in profile to RC. The amount of wood influence in this one seems to be borderline...I am not sure what to think of it. Sometimes, it is too much, and sometimes, it is just heavy. 21/25 (85%)

So how does this one compare to Royal Canadian Small Batch? on nose, bourbon influence seems stronger in RC - I think the nose might be better on RC, but on Caribou crossing there are more notes of pine and rum, though those are also present in RC. The mouthfeel is a bit better and it is a bit more "patient", with the spices developing more slowly and the finish developing longer, with a bit more of a dry character. More woody, and a bit over the top, at times, I think. RC is a bit sweeter. RC is slightly better (than this barrel, at least, though they're close enough that a better barrel could outdo RC), and cheaper.

Weighting the nose 25%, taste 35%, Finish 15%, and Intrigue 25% the overall grade is 83.


The fine folks at Buffalo Trace/Sazerac came into some Canadian whisky recently and, as is the trend these days, had the notion to bottle and sell it. Caribou Crossing Single Barrel is their premium brand, whereas Royal Canadian is their entry level expression. The packaging for Caribou Crossing Single Barrel is classically “Canadian”: the fabulous silhouette of a caribou stag, the shimmering Northern Lights setting the backdrop, the metal maple leaf stopper, and the velvety Crown Royal-style bag. I’m not one for tropes such as these, but then again, Caribou Crossing Single Barrel is intended for American audiences and I’m a real live Canuck.

The nose begins with soft vanilla, then maple syrup, then butter, then cinnamon and nutmeg, coalescing into a rich, sweet slice of French toast. (It reminds me of a Forty Creek expression, actually.) Rum notes suffusing rich custard bespeaks egg nog. Rye spice creeps in, but never dominates. Eventually, there is a deep, satisfying waft of brown sugar. Enchanting!

On the palate, vanilla and maple appear again, but quite a lot of spice takes over in short order, pushing the rye forward. It’s all a bit hot, a bit flat, and a bit thin, and the finish is quick and a not a little disappointing. All in all, it’s not nearly as rich or characterful as the nose suggests.

As it is a single barrel expression, there is bound to be some variation in bottlings; unfortunately, I see no information as to which barrel the contents of my bottle have been drawn from, so it’s down to the luck of the draw, I suppose. In any case, this was a good attempt, with a delectable nose but a palate altogether lacking the richness and smoothness of some other premium Canadian whiskies, such as Forty Creek’s Double Barrel Reserve and Confederation Oak Reserve.

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