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Whisky Trends for 2021

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@JasonHambrey
JasonHambrey started a discussion

I wanted to provide a few reflections on the Canadian Whisky Awards (which I did not judge this year, so I was quite curious) - whiskyanalysis had a good article: whiskyanalysis.com/index.php/2021/…

but it leads me to ask, what are whisky trends you are seeing? Good/bad/ugly?

about one month ago

15 replies

@JasonHambrey
JasonHambrey replied

Bad - One that has been kicking around for a while but seems to be getting worse - throwing stuff in extra barrels is preferable to longer age for a lot of producers. Not my favourite.

Good - A nice trend is that, in Canada at least, there are a few craft distillers producing some really great stuff when some of the bigger producers are letting us down. There is more room to grow, but there is a large enough number of distillers now with maturing stock that are doing some good stuff.

Ugly - virgin oak finishes? They are rampant. They can move you from so-so to decent, but not usually into the high tiers of whisky. A lot of bottles that are all about the oak and not about the whisky, and the spirit character is dampened, covered over, or overtaken completely.

about one month ago 4Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

@JasonHambrey Not a subject I feel particularly qualified to talk about, but I will be interested to hear what the resident Canadian whisky lovers here have to say. I'm happy that Canadian whisky is starting to get some recognition beyond its reputation for being not much more than cheap mixer. I have been introduced to some very good Canadian whisky in the past couple of years. I hope that trend continues.

about one month ago 3Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC replied

@JasonHambrey - like @BlueNote , I can't say too much about Canadian whisky per se; but the trend in whisky generally to jazz things up with a cask finish, and the heavy use of virgin oak casks aren't the most pleasing recent developments.

It can work, don't get me wrong, but I think many of us feel that proper dunnage maturation, in at least half-decent casks, is the tried and tested way to go. The results generally speak for themselves too.

On a slight tangent, if I may - one of the potential positives that might start to emerge soon is the effects of the whisky loch that is growing across the globe. I can see the economic downturn from covid starting to eat into sales soon and there's a heck of a lot of whisky been made the last decade or so. Potentially great news for us malt heads though ...

about one month ago 4Who liked this?

@fiddich1980
fiddich1980 replied

Source: malt-review.com/2021/02/…

""production methodology and implement practices which brought about a higher average consistent quality of product. However, a large amount of what has been achieved has been through ** smart use of wood**. Wood only takes you so far though and tends to be rather more about cosmetic beauty. There’s lots of whisky out there which for me is around the 90% quality mark, but to go beyond these levels is rare and very hard. To surpass these quality levels, in my view, you really have to have distillate character and depth, but within the restrictive parameters of a regimented production model build around yield, consistency and efficiency your distillate potential is highly limited.""

I have had conversations with fellow Connosr members about wood and wood finished whiskies. The industry has become efficient in the use of wine, port, sherry, Madeira, and mezcal, cask finished whiskies. There have been releases of STR (Shaved Toasted Recharred) cask. This trend may continue due to the expense in purchasing such cask and cask cost in general. It has become a decent marketing method for producers to have a "special" cask finished release. The Distill releases of Bunnahabian, Deanston, and Ledaig come to mind. I believe that whisky has become more homogeneous in recent years. That the big Canadian producers will follow this trend. If J P Wiser's release of the 22 Cask Strength Blend Port Cask Finished whisky is reflective of this growing trend. They did not get it right with the Lot 40 third release(NAS) finished in French Oak. From my drinking experience in the past three years the "bad" whiskies are few and far between. This speaks to the consistency of well engineered(ARTFUL) blending.

There was a time when I bemoaned the loss of Promise barley in favour of Optic for production of single malts. I still do, I'm always on the lookout for independent bottling distilled prior to 1995. The anthesis begin Waterford, Bruichladdich, and Springbank which tend to rely of notions of "terrior". North of 7 Whisky in Canada seems to have adopted this movement. So far, Four Roses seems to be consistent with their use of Non-GMO grains and varied yeast strains. We will have to see what the future brings for these distilleries or whether they cave to commercially available raw materials.

There is also a trend towards young age stated and (NAS) whiskies. These include Alberta Premium Cask Strength(NASA), Ardbeg Wee Beastie(5yr), Highland Park Cask Strength(NAS), and Diageo's 2020 releases of Cardhu / Talisker 8(2018). The positive aspect being that the distillate character remains present but, the MRSP is high.

There will always be the herd that chases the NEW trending releases whether they be good or mediocre. My purchases choices are taken with more caution given the proliferation so called "experts" and "influencers'". For my part, there has been a shift towards rums and Armagnac because these spirits offer a more diverse range of flavours. The rums in particular can be interesting and challenging - characterful. General, under the radar and more affordable. Whisky wise the Canadian Club Chronicle 43 was exceptional such whiskies stand above the crowded space. It plays to the 9.09% rule and does it will while the majority of the spirit remains old age Canadian Club. I'll purchase less with and eye to outstanding quality.

about one month ago 11Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

I’m certainly no expert in Canadian whisky, but here are my thoughts fwiw:

  • Good: the smaller distillers, the ones who actually distill whisky, are slowly gaining market share and creating some worthwhile whiskies. North of 7 comes to mind, and I’ve heard good things about Two Brewers and Shelter Point. I may even have a few samples I should get to.
  • Bad: I may catch some heat for this one, but the continued reliance on double-distilled “base” corn whisky, distilled to over 90% abv, aged in umpteenth-fill casks. If Canadian whisky is to shake its “tame, lame, brown vodka” reputation, something needs to change on this front. I don’t know if it’s better casks, longer aging, less reliance on “whisky” distilled to within an inch of its life. And again, I may be alone on this one, but Canadian whisky that’s mostly base corn whisky (especially when it’s young) always carries an unpleasant tell-tale spirity bitterness on the finish and often carries a distracting chlorine/ozone aroma on the nose.
  • Ugly: Ok, at the risk of getting banned from Connosr altogether, or having certain members hunt me down, I have to say that the misleading age statements bother me. I realize that the current practice of including 1/11th younger “flavouring” rye while maintaining a > 30 year age statement is legal, but it bothers me nonetheless. Also, bloggers/reviewers/influencers who rate everything > 90 points. Maybe it’s the educator in me, but not every whisky that’s produced is exceptional. Not every “special release” is elegance in a bottle.

about one month ago 7Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

OdysseusUnbound, there's nothing wrong with

"double-distilled “base” corn whisky"

It pays the bills. I think that is a proposition more likely to be "debated" on Reddit or one of those Facebook-cage-match pages.

Simple solution, don't drink double-distilled “base” corn whisky. Those who worry about reputation often become mainstream. Other than avoiding the young corn whiskies, you may need to dig deeper in your pocket to escape the “tame, lame, brown vodka”....other than those key points, I am in agreement with you.

flame flame flame flame flame flame tumbler_glass

...after thought... good is good, regardless of the price or age

about one month ago 5Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

@paddockjudge I obviously don’t think Canadian whisky producers are actually going to change their practices based on my personal preferences.

That said I do get tired of certain well-known reviewers and Canadian whisky enthusiasts wagging their finger at those of us who simply don’t enjoy that style of whisky. I liked the Canadian Club 40 Year just fine, but at the original price of $240 or so, there are a LOT of other whiskies I simply enjoy more. I’m not sure how deep into my pockets I’m willing to go. Perhaps most Canadian whisky just isn’t my game.

about one month ago 3Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@OdysseusUnbound, your statement "Perhaps most Canadian whisky just isn’t my game" is exactly the picture you have painted for me. There is nothing wrong with not liking most of the Canadian whiskies on the market today. Drink what pleases you. Each of us has our own preference.

about one month ago 1Who liked this?

@JasonHambrey
JasonHambrey replied

Good point on the misleading use of age statements in Canada....

I was actually thinking about broader whisky trends too. Scotch, on the mainstream level, has gotten expensive, hard to get, and even more misleading on the marketing front - it's actually turned me off a bit. But, a lot of it is context. Ontario is a terrible place for buying whisky. What do you do when Uigeadail costs $200 and you need to win a lottery to buy it! It's wild.

about one month ago 3Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

@JasonHambreyWhat do you do when Uigeadail costs $200 and you have to win a lottery to buy it?” I can only speak for myself, but in this climate I refuse to buy from the LCBO. I’m fortunate, of course, since I have friends who regularly shop in Alberta.

As for scotch trends, I seem to be moving away from buying a lot of scotch. Maybe it’s my perception but the use of wine casks has gotten out of control. I don’t mind wine cask influence as a component of a malt whisky, but it seems that there’s a real arms race going on to see who can drown their malt the most. It’s like the distilleries are taking their cues from a recent U.S. President:

“Believe me, we’ve got the best wine casks. So many wine casks. The finest wine casks. Yuge wine casks. Nobody knows more about wine casks than us.”

There are obviously a lot of people who like this (like Luening. Horst Luening) but I prefer an integrated whisky experience. I suppose I’m lucky as this means I tend to reach for younger malts or less expensive malts.

about one month ago 0

@casualtorture

I think the biggest thing impacting whisky this year will be the tariffs.

"Total exports of Kentucky Bourbon and other whiskies were valued at $455 million in 2018. That number plunged to $319 million in 2020, a 35% decrease. Export values to the EU have nosedived 48% since the tariffs took effect, from $257 million in 2018 to $135 million last year."

That's a lot of money and will have negative effects on the industry unless they quickly figure something out. Tariffs only hurt the consumers and producers on both sides in the end. My first thought after reading those numbers was like "yay more for us!" but I highly doubt it works that way.

Luckily this was announced today: "The US has agreed to a four-month suspension of tariffs on UK goods including Scotch whisky."

So perhaps we're on the right track to free trade!

about one month ago 2Who liked this?

@fiddich1980
fiddich1980 replied

This is a disturbing trend. When I was a kid it wasn't the breakfast cereal but the prize that was inside which got my attention. People care more about getting the set of stopper which spell out the brand rather, than the bourbon.

If any one is interested you can purchase this stopper to complete your set for the price of $35 CND, rolling_eyes stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye at only half price of a full bottle.

Shipping and postage not included.

about one month ago 5Who liked this?

MRick replied

@fiddich1980 I suppose it’s better than buying empty Pappy bottles on e-bay.

about one month ago 1Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@fiddich1980, Blanton’s iconic bottle stoppers...I’ve got a bunch of the N1 and only one of the N2.......but I’ve never seen the apostrophe. Is it the same price?

about one month ago 2Who liked this?

@fiddich1980
fiddich1980 replied

@paddockjudge That must be a Unicorn. There are 38 bottles in your vicinity maybe there is a " ' ", among the bottles. You'd better be quick though likely, to disappear in a flash.

about one month ago 1Who liked this?

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@OdysseusUnbound

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