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Hiram Walker Carleton Tower

Happy 150th, Canada! - Part V of XIII

2 1580

@talexanderReview by @talexander

20th Jun 2017

1

  • Nose
    20
  • Taste
    19
  • Finish
    21
  • Balance
    20
  • Overall
    80

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Distribution of ratings for this: user

  • Brand: Hiram Walker
  • ABV: -1%

Here's an odd one I picked up at an LCBO/Waddington's auction a few months ago. All I know about this is that it was distilled in 1963 (according to the tax stamp) at Hiram Walker in Walkerville, Ontario. There is no age statement, nor any ABV given at all. The odd "tower" shaped bottle has a gold-coloured top, and sits within a black leatherette zippered case with gold lettering. Pretty cool - except I think this must have been stored for years on its side. The cork is soaked through and is in very rough shape, with bits of it floating in the whisky. Oh well, let's see how it holds up!

The colour is a medium amber (with extremely oily legs). On the nose we have furniture polish, sandalwood, rum-raisin, dark chocolate and black currant. Some big wood smoke in there too, like a campfire. Black cherries. Something vegetal in the background (cork taint?) I'm in a dark, dank musty library - but the caramel and vanilla are still there to remind you that this is, indeed, whisky. A drop of water brings out more vegetal notes. Very interesting, but I wonder if this really nosed like this when it was originally bottled, or if the cork has altered the profile.

The palate is rather oily, as expected, with lots of Mackintosh toffee and vanilla. Mild spices. Raisins. Honey and milk chocolate. Tasty but a little on the bland side, though water brings out more herbs and a sharp rye note. Needs more complexity.

The warm finish is extremely mouth-drying with tannic oak, cherries and mint. This is indeed a very interesting time capsule (especially the packaging), but I worry that poor storage has caused some cork taint. Still, I wish I knew more about the bottling - if anyone here has any more info, please share.

15 comments

@newreverie
newreverie commented

What a beautiful bottle. I like your review of this flawed whisky, always on the verge of greatness, but....

about one year ago 0

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

As a whole, I think Canadian whisky has the worst packaging. Gaw. These look like they'd be owned by Anchorman in 1974.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@talexander
talexander commented

@Ol_Jas You say that like it's a bad thing.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

60% of the time, it works every time.

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

Great review! I recall the "shoe bag" that accompanied this unique bottle. Nice presentation, but can't beat the classic CR bag.

about one year ago 0

@dloewen
dloewen commented

Great review! I have a bottle of this Carleton Tower (distilled 1961) that I just finished. I've searched high and low online for info on this bottling but found almost nothing. It was your review that gave me the courage to open it rather than let it sit unopened, wondering whether it would be worth it beyond it's collectability. Now I only wish I could get my hands on another bottle...maybe a once in a lifetime opportunity!

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@talexander
talexander commented

@dloewen Maybe, maybe not. They sometimes come up at the LCBO / Waddingtons auctions (though there isn't a bottle in the upcoming November auction). I'm glad my review spurred you on to open it! Note that only in very rare circumstances are Canadian whiskies a sound investment. If you are a collector, that's a different story but otherwise I would encourage anyone to open their bottles of Canadian whisky no matter how old or rare they might be. Sipping on a bottle distilled in the '40s or '50s is like stepping into a Hot Whisky Time Machine (sorry, I just finished watching that stupid movie at my girlfriend's insistence...)

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@dloewen
dloewen commented

Ha ha, true, I have noticed that whisky from Canada doesn't seem to appreciate the way others do. I got my Carleton Tower along with a bottle of Schenley Order of Merit 15 y.o. Also with a tax stamp from 1961. Have you ever tried this?

about one year ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

@dloewen No, I haven't! That sounds interesting...

about one year ago 0

alyurchak69 commented

@dloewen

I recently came into a bottle of the Carleton Tower unopened with the seal reading 1951. I removed the top last night 24 November 2017 and shared a couple small snorts with two very good friends. The cork was in perfect shape and the whiskey itself was absolutely delicious and smooth. Have seen nothing but bottles from the 60’s so now feel like I have a special gem and will treat it as such. Thanks for your post .

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

ntnsty commented

Gentlemen, I have a bottle from 1954. Seal unbroken and apparently always stored in this dark case. (A luggage tag also included strangely enough). Interested in buying it?

Cleaning out the in-laws’ house and everything must go. This was in the old unfinished part of the basement.

11 months ago 0

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@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@ntnsty What's an 80 point whisky worth these days?

11 months ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

@Nozinan One man's 80 points is another man's 90....or 70.

11 months ago 2Who liked this?

ntnsty commented

@talexander True that. I am no authority so I would not be able to grade this bottle. Just want it to go to someone who would appreciate it.

11 months ago 0

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