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Signal Hill Canadian Whisky

Mixed Signals

3 1080

@OdysseusUnboundReview by @OdysseusUnbound

5th Feb 2019

0

  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    80

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Distribution of ratings for this: user

  • Brand: Signal Hill
  • ABV: 40%

I was happy to receive this as a free (full sized!) bottle from the company. Maybe I’ve “made it” as a blogger. Of course, once I publish my review, I may never get free whisky again. Oh well, I have to be honest. This is a whisky sourced from Ontario, and if I had to guess, I’d say it’s from the Hiram Walker distillery, using the Canadian Club “stocks”. So here’s what I know about this whisky (from their marketing people, er, their communications team)

Signal Hill

  1. Crafted in St. John’s, Newfoundland – within sight of the historic Signal Hill.
  2. Blended (ed: diluted?) with the pristine waters of Newfoundland, Canada.
  3. 3-cask aging process for a deep amber colour and complex flavour: White Oak Casks, Bourbon Casks and Canadian Whisky Casks
  4. Aged in a variable climate to deliver richness
  5. Non-chill filtered for a fuller mouthfeel and smoother finish
  6. The contemporary bottle compliments the non-traditional whisky
  7. 95% corn, 5% barley
  8. Blended in small batches

Tasting Notes

  • Nose (undiluted): strong solvent aroma at first, after a few minutes there’s rich caramel and cream aromas, reminiscent of Werther's Original hard candies, toasted oak, cola, and a bit of rye spice in the background. (19/25)
  • Palate (undiluted): rich arrival, surprisingly mouth-coating for something bottled at 40% abv, floral honey, figs, orange zest, a touch of cinnamon (21/25)
  • Finish: medium length, more honey, rye spice, flat cola, ending on a slightly bitter (but still pleasing) orange zest note (20/25)
  • Balance: it’s not super-complex, but it’s fairly well-integrated. (20/25)

Adding water emphasizes the slight bitter note on the finish. But this is not an "off" vodka-esque note nor is it an acetone or spirity bitterness. It's akin to adding a dash of orange bitters to your whisky. I think this would make Signal Hill good in a Manhattan or even a whisky sour. I haven’t tried it with diet Ginger ale....yet. The whisky is fairly well-balanced and is good on its own as a digestif. Its biggest asset is the texture and flavour on the palate. I don’t know if the rich texture comes from the lack of chill-filtration or because it’s almost exclusively corn whisky. Maybe it’s both. I doubt this will change the way people perceive Canadian whisky. It’s well made, easy to drink, but I wouldn’t classify it as bold, spicy, or call it a radical departure from the familiar.

10 comments

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

Thanks for the review, being honest is key despite the potential backlash.

I have to say I truly wonder what the aim of many of these new Canadian whisky "brands", the market is saturated with this kind of light, smooth Canadian whisky, they aren't bringing anything new to the table.

There is bearface that at least is doing some cask manipulation but even then they are all dealing in been there done that.

17 days ago 2Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@cricklewood the Bearface was surprisingly tasty - I tried a sample at a store. That was enough for me though. It's smoooooooooooth.

17 days ago 1Who liked this?

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

@Nozinan, my point exactly, it's tasty but you wouldn't be swayed to pick up a bottle immediately after.

The worst part is whomever is buying bulk whisky could pay Livermore and his team or heck any other competent consultant to blend something unique or at least different enough from the masses.

I apologize I'm coming off as surly perhaps.

17 days ago 2Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@cricklewood Not surly at all. I probably wouldn’t have tried this if it hadn’t been sent for free. I’m still quite hit and miss with Canadian whisky. Don Livermore’s creations seem to be the exception for me. Oh, and Crown Royal. I like a lot of their whiskies, but I’m not sure I love any of them.

16 days ago 2Who liked this?

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

@OdysseusUnbound I feel much the same, I enjoy some of the old school styles of Canadian whisky but it feels to me as there is a period of maladjustment in our industry in terms of pivoting and providing whiskys that reflect the taste of consumers and also reflect the diversity of what Canadian whiskys are capable of delivering. I am talking about Canadian style blended and rye whisky here not single malts.

If you look at how well bourbon/American rye sales are doing in Ontario and the rest of Canada, you'd get an inkling that people are into bold rich corn/rye based whiskys. Why then would you deliver them anemic 40.2%abv (notice those funny abvs of late) smooth as a baby's bottom whisky over and over again.

Crown has quality products but they often fall shy of the greatness they can delivery and have one heck of a batch variance.

16 days ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@cricklewood Spot on. I liked the Blender’s Select, but it felt underpowered at 45%. If it had been bottled at Cask Strength, I feel like it could have been something very special.

16 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@OdysseusUnbound Whisky served up at cask strength is almost always better and bolder than watered down.

The only one I would probably dread trying at cask strength?......Lambertus.

16 days ago 2Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

@OdysseusUnbound, the Blender's Select at a higher proof is magnificent, a completely different experience.

16 days ago 1Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

@cricklewood, I believe it is "the same" juice as CRHSB, offered in a batch at 90 proof, whereas CRHSB is a single barrel at 103 proof.

16 days ago 1Who liked this?

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