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Last Straw whisky

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@Megawatt
Megawatt started a discussion

Anyone try this Ontario craft whisky? Not widely available yet…they have a new rye and cask-strength corn whisky available from the distillery only. Prices seem reasonable but craft whisky has been pretty hit and miss for me (though I suppose you could say that about any whisky).

about one month ago

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@65glenfarclas

@Megawatt I work 10 minutes away from the distillery, so in the "before times" I dropped in during a lunch hour and tasted some samples. I ended up buying a bottle of "sCorn" ($60), not because its great whiski (though it is "unique" and not a drain pour like the Still Waters), but because I felt like a schmuck walking out without leaving some money in the till. What I would say/recommend is ... TRY BEFORE YOU BUY. Do NOT shell out a single cent on these "craft" whiskies blind!!! (one of the worst bottles I've ever bought was cask #2 of Still Waters "Stalk & Barrel single malt" 3years + 1day ... worst $100 bucks I've ever spent on whiski)

about one month ago 3Who liked this?

@65glenfarclas

@65glenfarclas For the most part, when buying "craft" whiski (as opposed to craft beer) you're not buying quality/well aged whiski (you can get much better, for half the price, from the large American or Canadian producers). You're paying for: "something different", or "to help the local distillery get off the ground", or higher proof wood bomb, etc

about one month ago 5Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@65glenfarclas Good points. I have a bottle of the Stalk and Barrel Cask #1 cask strength release. It's probably aged in the bottle longer than it aged in the barrel. I've been waiting for a friend to come from the US to open it, and I'm no longer that keen, from what I've read.

I've tasted from the Last Straw Whisky in the Six release. So far I have been less than impressed. My whisky consumption has been reduced the last year and a half so I'm loath to spend too much time on something I'll enjoy less.

One craft distillery that has shown promise has been North of 7. You may have seen some posts from some of my Canadian Connosr buddies about it. I am preparing a review of a single cask expression for Canada Day. A challenging whisky, in a good way.

about one month ago 5Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

The only “craft” whisky that has impressed me so far has been North of 7. And even that is a mood whiski. It’s fascinating and well-made but not something I want all the time. My sister had me try something else in the before times that was an Ontario craft “single malt NOT scotch” and it was terrible. I can’t remember who made it, but I assume it was malt whiski. Completely un-memorable. Probably 3 years old and aged in nineteenth-fill barrels. There have been others like Howitzer which I’m assuming are just sourced, base column still corn “whisky” with extra fancy packaging that have been equally bland and boring, so I’m hesitant to plunk down any hard-earned money on “craft” whiski.

about one month ago 6Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

My mother told me, if you don’t have anything nice to say……

There is a distillery in Ottawa producing some world class barrels of whisky. North of 7 is a small operation. They haven’t rushed to market with sub-standard releases hoping for angels to bless them with a mercy-buy. Not every barrel is a stunner, but they’ve produced some 5 - 6 year old releases that could (in a blind) easily be mistaken for premium bourbon. One particular barrel of four-grain whisky, barrel #16, is sinfully delicious. I’ve never tasted a five year old bourbon as good as this. It is an absolutely brilliant creation. In fact, I’ve tasted very few bourbons that are as good as this four-grain mash whisky… think about that for a minute, high praise indeed.

After too many disappointing purchases from craft distillers, North of 7 is a breath of fresh air.

about one month ago 6Who liked this?

@65glenfarclas

@OdysseusUnbound "Probably 3 years old and aged in nineteenth-fill barrels." I don't think this to be the problem with (new world) crafty whiski. I believe the problem is the opposite. Start-up distilleries need cash flow, so they must sell barely legal whiski (3yrs+1day) to stay afloat. In order to make the whiski "age faster" they use combinations of small casks, new wood, and wet ex-bourbon casks. The result is immature whiski that tastes like a plank of oak soaked in rubbing alcohol.

about one month ago 4Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@65glenfarclas, you make a very good point about wood management in craft distillers, it is too often driven by the bottom line. If I wanted to drink "swish", I would buy my own barrels and make "swish". Most whisky drinkers want something more than wood-coloured spirits.

What is whisky, if not for the wood?

There is a micro-distiller in Ottawa who is purchasing, has been purchasing, barrels from Independent Stave since 2014. There is now some very good whisky coming from that Ottawa distillery located north of 7. I don't know if there are other Canadian craft distillers doing the same. I suppose it is the good wood that separates the men from the boys.

about one month ago 4Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor replied

The micro-distillery thing has been going on in the US in a big way for 10 years and in a much smaller way for 20+ years. (Mr. Murray was writing about Old Potrero in a book he published in the late 1990s). Here, south of the border, we have thousands of them. Yes, the products tend to be relatively expensive for what you get, because capital expenses were established at more recent expensive levels for these start-up businesses.

I would expect the Canadian micro-distillers to follow the same typical pattern with respect to quality as have the US micro-distillers, viz. some will not make the grade over time at all and for the field in general there will be a learning curve with respect to quality. I did not much like my sister's first bottle of Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye which she bought 10 years ago, but I have liked almost everything else Catoctin Creek has made since that bottle, some of them enourmously. So, today, Catoctin Creek has a solidly good quality status, but their products remain relatively expensive.

What to do? What I'd do if I were living in Ontario is to take every opportunity to taste all of the products whenever I could, and prefer to taste all products before considering purchase. In general it's a good idea to let a start-up put out 2 or 3 years worth of releases before paying much attention to them. Let them iron out the early kinks. There usually are some.

about one month ago 5Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

“Craft” is fast becoming one of those misleading, misused words like organic. It has become synonymous with quality, and indicates that the product has been lovingly hand made. Pretty much every craft pale ale tastes the same. Crank up the hops in your IPA and make it smell like cat piss and, voila, it’s now a craft beer. When it comes to whiski I am very wary of anything new with the words “small” or “craft” anywhere on the label.

about one month ago 6Who liked this?

@casualtorture

@BlueNote Lol totally agree on the IPA's.

Yeah in Tennessee we have some "craft" distilleries that are actually pretty good, but like Victor said, they're very expensive for what you get. I'm sure making the business model work is tough for young distilleries who can't apply economies of scale the same way larger distilleries can, and the absolutely ridiculous government licensing and regulations don't help things at all.

I was actually looking at starting an independent bottler with a friend, and after looking into it, the government red tape just makes it impossible...

about one month ago 5Who liked this?

Astroke replied

@OdysseusUnbound Do we not include Shelter Point and Two Brewers as "Craft" anymore? I know they are difficult to come by here in Ontario but we know there are ways around that. I have had a few different cask finishes and some cask strength samples and will put these 2 against any craft distillery in North America. IMO.

about one month ago 2Who liked this?

Astroke replied

@Megawatt I was able to get the cask strength Rye but have not opened it yet. @jasonhambrey rated it very high but when you release only 48 bottles it almost doesn't count. I struggle with the recently released Whisky in the 6 whisky they released.

about one month ago 0

@RianC
RianC replied

@BlueNote @casualtorture - Slightly off topic but I'm with you two on the craft beer/excess hops. Like everything, a balance is required and too much hops kills a beer, in my opinion.

Agree with the sentiments above too about craft distilleries. I guess it's slightly different over here, but paying top dollar for a young whisky that is heavily oak influenced isn't a huge turn on for me. That said, I do approve and appreciate what they're trying to do.

about one month ago 3Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@Astroke, "craft, micro, start-up, etc., there is a break point or cut-off point indicated by volume. This is stated in legislation....I'm not looking it up, it exists. It is what I perceive to be a road block for the little guys. Buying whisky from other (larger) producers no longer becomes a viable alternative. When the volume exceeds the break point, many or all concessions and/or credits are forgone. This brings the little guy back to focusing on production. Buying and bottling "more mature" whisky doesn't always help the little guy.

I believe Two Brewers and Shelter Point are growing the business past the micro stage. Forty Creek is a recent example of a well managed Canadian micro-distiller growing the business over a twenty year period and selling to Campari for $170 million. It can be done.

@Victor, Your advice to taste first and buy later is indeed sound. I am not inclined to subsidize a start-up. I expect a good product in return for good money. It is not only about quality, but the relationship with customers and vendors. Goodwill is important to gaining my loyalty.

A number commonly thrown around for small business failure rate is 80%...time frame, I'm not looking it up, it is a short period; regardless, small business distillers would likely suffer the same fate as other industries or sectors if it were not for tax credits, subsidies, incentives etc. At some point they have to compete on a level playing field. Eventually the gold rush effect wares off...especially when there's no gold being produced.

@casualtorture, when lawyers complain about the mountain of red tape, as well as the lack of co-operation between levels of government, you know it's gonna be an uphill battle.

about one month ago 5Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@BlueNote, an "AMEN" from the choir. Craft is a magical word. The churches used it when justifying the burning of witches for the use of witchcraft. skull

about one month ago 4Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@RianC, I totally agree with your statement about balance in a beer. I don't drink much of it these days, but when I do, it better not taste like a grapefruit pissed in my beer....I can do that myself for a lot less money.

about one month ago 4Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

@Astroke I've had samples from Two Brewers: very good; Arbutus Distillery in Nanaimo: bloody awful; and Shelter point: good. I think Shelter Point might be trying to put out too much, too soon and thus starting to show some inconsistency. I just got my half share of a bottle of Shelter Point Ripple Rock. On first tasting, I like it. It's a Canadian style whisky as opposed to a Scottish style whisky. 47% ABV, aged 7 years in American Oak, finished for 18 months in Virgin Oak. I don't have the most discerning palate for Canadian whisky, so I'm sending off some samples to someone who does.

about one month ago 1Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

Meant to include this in previous post.

about one month ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

@Astroke while I have samples from both distilleries, I have never tasted or owned any SP or TB.

about one month ago 0

@Megawatt
Megawatt replied

Thanks for all the replies. I kind if figured this would be the consensus and I can’t say I disagree when it comes to the over-oakes quality of craft whisky. I do enjoy my Ontario craft IPAs, though.

Maybe I’ll give this a pass for now, especially when I can get Lot 40 Dark Oak for around the same price.

23 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Megawatt
Megawatt replied

I never envisioned myself as an IPA guy but now I find “normal” beers rather boring. Totally disagree they all taste the same: I prefer the juicy IPAs. Muskoka Detour was my gateway.

23 days ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

@Megawatt I’m very hit and miss on IPAs so I’ll agree that they don’t all taste the same.

23 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Megawatt
Megawatt replied

@OdysseusUnbound

For me it’s a matter of finding one you like; then you can appreciate others. Sort of like how I hated Islay malts until I tried Talisker.

23 days ago 1Who liked this?

@65glenfarclas

@Megawatt Agree with you on beer. One of the most important things when drinking IPAs is the packaging date - the fresher the better. My advice, never buy a beer before checking the date on the can/bottle. For pale ales (including IPAs), less than a month is ideal - 3 months is pushing it and I only buy them if I've already tried it fresh and like it a lot. People often buy IPAs that have been sitting on the shelf (at room temp) for months - when they're that "stale", yes they all pretty much taste the same. The only beers that can take a bit more age are lagers (maybe up to 6 months) and high ABV Belgian/stouts/saisons/etc

23 days ago 2Who liked this?

@Megawatt
Megawatt replied

@65glenfarclas

Interesting, I will keep that in mind. I’m really enjoying the Wellington brewery now. Their Upside IPA is fantastic.

22 days ago 2Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

@Megawatt their stout is terrific. “Russian Imperial” I think. Yum.

22 days ago 2Who liked this?

@65glenfarclas

@Megawatt Wellington is good but pretty "middle of the road" when it comes to Ontario breweries. They've been around much longer than 90% of the current breweries. As @OdysseusUnbound mentioned, their Imperial Russian Stout is IMO, their best regular offering. I think every one of their other offerings has arguably a better alternative from the likes of Collective Arts, Great Lakes, Left Field (to name widely distributed breweries), or Bellwoods (Jutsu, and Roman Candle, listed in LCBO in the last year or so) and many others. Craft beer in Ontario has become like Single malt whisky for someone living in Scotland - way more bottles released every year than one can possibly ever try in a lifetime. (as I type, I'm drinking a Sunsplit by Dominion City Brewing out of Ottawa)

22 days ago 3Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@65glenfarclas, all good, a couple more beer and it may be called "stout Russian Imperials".

22 days ago 2Who liked this?

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