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Dillon's The White Rye

Whisky That Isn't Whisky 1 of 2

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@talexanderReview by @talexander

16th Feb 2015


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
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  • Brand: Dillon's
  • ABV: 40%

WTF? Whisky that isn't whisky? What does that even mean? Well, that's a very good question. I have two bottles - one from Ontario, one from Georgia - that would be considered whisky in the US but not in Canada. Strangely, one of those is Canadian...

...but they don't call it whisky, so hey it's OK. But if it was made in the US, it would be, so I feel OK to review it (as opposed to, say, reviewing whisky liqueurs here, which would simply be wrong!) In Canada, you have to age the grain spirit for at least three years in oak to call it whisky. In the US, you don't. Having said this, Dillon's The White Rye is in the whisky section of the LCBO, even though it's not whisky. Wait, what?

Dillon's is a small craft distillery based in Beamsville ON. While they currently have rye whisky maturing, their output thus far has been vodka, gin (which is excellent), fruit spirits, absinthe (yes!), bitters and this unaged rye. It is 100% Ontario rye (of which only 10% is malted), distilled in small batches through copper pot stills, and diluted to 40% ABV and immediately bottled. This bottling is from Batch No. 11.

The colour is of course clear. The aroma practically fills the room as soon as I pour it: estery and sweet, with ginger, canned tomato paste (am I nuts?), vinegar and macadamia nuts (yep I'm literally nuts). Slightly more complex than I would think, but not very pleasant. For both nose and palate, water just dilutes everything and does little else.

On the palate, it is surprisingly thin and watery. However, there is some alcohol there, tingling the tongue. But at 40%, there is not much going on - some similar notes as on the nose but extremely muted.

The finish is long and uncomfortable - like heartburn. Some white pepper and vinegar - imagine how you would feel swallowing that concoction and you get the idea. The only other unaged rye I've had was the Jack Daniel's Unaged Rye, which I was also not impressed with (though I have enjoyed single malt new make and bourbon white dog). So I guess this style of spirit is simply not going to work for me. It's not pleasant, not enjoyable and quite frankly, I have no idea what to do with this. I guess, mix it with Coke? Sigh. Now I'm depressed.


Victor commented

It's always good to get a heads-up on these various products, though I know the feeling of feeling stuck with a bottle of something you will almost never want to touch again. When you get used to nice wood-aged products it can be difficult to go back to tasting the basic spirits-sans-wood. In the rye spirit category, I do like Corsair's Wry Moon pretty well, and the Catoctin Creek Mosby's Spirit isn't too bad either. But it still takes a special day to be in the mood to want to try any of these.

7 years ago 0

talexander commented

You do really have to be in the mood. I have many guilty pleasure whiskies I'm not ashamed of enjoying (Jack Daniel's, Canadian Club, etc) but this one is tricky to get into. Raw, strong, unapologetic. For me, whisky is an education and I don't regret trying this (or the Georgia Moon) but to be brutally frank - they don't need to exist.

7 years ago 0

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