Ask many whisky drinkers how they feel about Canadian whisky and many don't have a good opinion of it, there are many reasons why but they all boil down to the same conclusion. There is just too much, low proof, smooth harmless whisky being released. It's like they got stuck in the 70's and didn't budge. What if people don't want to drink high proof flavor bombs you ask? Well bourbon is flying off the shelves here, The LCBO made a Facebook event for Old Weller 107 & 12 and everyone crapped themselves and cleared the shelves within a week. Lot 40 Cask Strength almost caused a riot (well a Canadian riot so a really polite one) upon release and folks have been clamoring for offerings of the same caliber as we are getting from elsewhere in the whisky world.
Not all is lost, the tide is turning albeit very slowly, the release in 2017 of Corby's Northern Border Collection was a major step in the right direction. Many would trace the turning point to 2012 as Wiser's re-release of Lot no. 40 and Pike Creek but I think the true beacon and to me still one of the best examples of what good blending can bring to the category was J.P. Wiser's Legacy.
Legacy was released sometime in 2010, it was a tribute to it's namesake and was unique on a few points. At the time there were few "ultra-premium" Canadian whiskys (Wiser's Red Letter and some Crown Royal Editions) but this differed in that not only did it push a very rye forward recipe but also sported a proper drinking ABV of 45%. It had a good amount of success but in the final years of it's availability (2016-2017) was largely ignored by folks and was ultimately discontinued. (I think in part because it would have competed with Corby's other new products) Sadly I believe it was not exported much either, so few outside of Canada had knowledge of it's existence.
￼I've blabbed enough let's dive in and see what makes this one so special.
Nose: Caramel corn, mackintosh toffee, golden delicious apple and a little barrel char perhaps? Then a good dose of cloves, allspice, and ginger, the addition of that Wiser's pot-still rye (AKA Lot No 40) is very apparent here in the middle. There is a bit of a lemon pith bite, you can feel the alcohol on the nose but it's not harsh , it gives zing and there's a lingering creamy, buttery bread note too. Really pleasant!
Palate: Sweet oak, brown sugar, a slight mineral tang, lemon zest, pretty silky entrance from the corn which then leaves behind the spicy and fairly drying astringency, it seems like it sticks to the middle of your palate. It has this boldness that many other blends lack.
Finish: Medium in length but effective, on lingering warm spices, maple butter, cedar and a minty, coppery tang.
The Blab (yes more of it): I like that it's still clearly a Canadian whisky but you see what a bit of boldness and good blending chops can bring to the game, definitely a yardstick by which to measure other entries in the category.
Don't get me wrong I am not shitting on other products, I think there is a place for all types of whiskies, I just think too many products are operating in the same spectrum and there is a notable void created by the absence of premium Canadian whisky. It's not like we don't have good stocks, look at how much of it leaves the country and is sold under the guises of Whistlepig, Masterson's, Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrels and so on.
@cricklewood which release year was this bottle of Legacy? They do vary from year to year. Legacy from 2010 and probably 2011 and 2012 were fabulous. Later releases showed more anise flavour, which I do not like in whisky. Regardless, Wiser's Legacy is the best of what Canada has to offer. By 2013 there were a few bottles of Wiser's Legacy being sold in the US, although I bought all of my bottles in Canada.
BTW if that Weller Antique and 12 yo were released almost anywhere in the US with prior public notice they would have been gone in an hour, and that only if you put limits on bottles per customer.
I am so happy I came into this hobby when nobody liked whisk(e)y. I was able to buy a lot of great stuff for little money, because I was willing to like something contrary to the flow of public taste.
@Victor, the title is the one that I used for my blog post which was much longer. I edited the text here for the sake of brevity, it's a reference to the millions of barrels of whisky tucked away in the warehouses of ADL,Hiram Walker, Crown Royal and Black Velvet.
All that potential is there sleeping, how some of the better barrels are being vatted away in all manner of tepid releases. It was also a way to highlight that a release of the caliber of the Northern Border collection did exist beforehand, it's not necessarily new, just unexplored.
Yes reviewing a discontinued whisky is perhaps limited in its usefulness, yet I know many bottles of Legacy still exist in the wild. It's also possible for them to vat together this recipe again, yes there will be inconsistencies with batches but that's bound to happen, I just think we could use more of this kind of thing on the market.