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The most recent concoction from Dr. Don Livermore's mad scientist laboratory is Spiced Torched Toffee. The 43% ABV is a little higher than most flavoured whiskies, so that's something. The packaging tells us that it features "a rich and premium toffee flavour which naturally occurs from ageing in torched oak barrels." Wait a minute..."naturally occurs"? Hm.
Note the ingredient list: Canadian whisky, sugar/glucose-fructose, natural flavour and sodium citrate. OK so the flavour is natural...fine, whatever...
The colour is a very deep coppery gold, kind of like...burnt toffee. On the nose...well, I want to say burnt caramel, but it's not quite that. Very artificial aromas, like a very sweet toffee that has been burnt over a flame - almost acrid. Some burnt oak in there as well, it seems surprisingly woody. Candied orange peel. Pumpkin spice latte. Cloves. Hazelnuts. Surprisingly complex for a flavoured whisky - but that doesn't mean that it's good. Extremely cloying. A drop of water seems to add more oak influence (so it's improved) but still, this is not good whisky.
On the palate we have a very young, spirity whisky but with a syrupy mouthfeel. Very disarming, and speaks to the additives thrown in. Many of the same burnt toffee / orange / pumpkin spice notes as on the nose, but with an almost industrial alcohol quality (which is thinned out a little with water).
The finish is sweet and rough at the same time, with some rye spice (finally!), pepper and - running through everything - burnt toffee. Yes, this is terrible - I would drink Crown Royal Maple over this - but it was never meant to be savoured neat or with a drop of water. The latest LCBO whisky flyer recommends mixing this with ginger ale, and with the bottle you get a recipe for "J.P. Wiser's Sweet & Spicy", which is with ginger ale and bitters. That one was just OK, but when mixed with just ginger ale, ice and a lime wedge.... it's very good! Spice, sweetness, tartness, caramel with the ginger - it's a rye and ginger with real body and a little extra oomph. I may buy another bottle just to make these - the mixing really works. So shoot me.