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About a year and a half ago, I was visiting one of my two best friends in Montreal when we came across a bottle of the 2002 Vintage at the SAQ store (the provincial-government-controlled liquor retailer). We sipped it while watching Rio Bravo, one of the greatest film/whisky pairings I've ever enjoyed.
And yesterday, who should I run into at the LCBO but a bottle of the 2003! I quickly snapped up two bottles…and this time, I was visiting my other best friend, here in Toronto, and we sipped it while enjoying great food and conversation. Until…well, let's just say his five-year-old son didn't want to go to bed, and his parents struggled with him for an hour while he cried and yelled his head off (meanwhile, I simply disappeared nonchalantly into my glass…) Regardless, it was truly serendipitous that I got to enjoy these two closely related bottles with my two closest friends - though separately.
This comes from barrel no. 303. Now, this is interesting: the front label clearly states "Put In Oak 2003", yet on the back it states that it was barrelled on Apr 5 2004 (and bottled Feb 10 2014). Soooooo…..how can that be 2003 Vintage?? If anyone has insight into that discrepancy, please let me know.
The colour is a deep coppery amber. On the nose, caramelized brown sugar, maple walnut, menthol and a whiff of BBQ smoke. A touch of balsamic. Quite oaky. Not as much vanilla as you might expect at first, but it starts to develop with more time in the glass. A little bit too perfumy, though…and gets more perfumy with a drop of water.
On the palate, some dark maple (though not syrupy), cherry and a lot of oak. Mahogany humidor. Old leather. Nicely mouth-drying. Cinnamon sticks. Spices up nicely with a drop of water.
The finish is deep with raisin, cinnamon and smoked paprika. This is a lovely bourbon, but if memory serves, it doesn't have the depth that the 2002 Vintage had. Regardless, well worth the $50/bottle in Ontario.