Great whisky that’s full of character has always been made in Canada, but a focus on mass production has kept really good stuff hidden away in the corners of old distillery warehouses – reserved for special releases or (sadly) even used as blending stock.
Our mission is to find these great old whiskies and then layer on another palate of flavours by custom finishing and blending. Our whiskies have been carefully aged for many years in unheated warehouses using “first use” bourbon barrels which is a big part of getting the mild dried fruit taste that is so characteristically Canadian. Our base whiskies have complexity and depth without strong woody overtones and they provide a great canvas for final finishing and custom blending.
Working with our partners at Highwood Distillers in High River, Alberta, we have secured a unique portfolio of well-aged western Canadian whisky (straight corn and rye) currently ranging from 3 to over 30 years in age.
The smooth, mature whiskies that we start with make an ideal canvas for custom finishing. Unlike some scotch and most bourbon, our whisky has a delicate but still complex flavour that readily picks up the flavour of the finishing barrels. Picking just the right barrels to compliment the taste of the whisky is the secret to perfecting the flavour during finishing. We work closely with our supplier in Europe to obtain unique, freshly emptied barrels from some of the best estates in Spain and France that we know will work well with our whisky. These barrels are typically available in very limited quantities.
The finishing process begins with baselining the flavour profile of our starting whisky and then pairing it up with a complimentary finishing barrel. Once filled, the barrels go back into the warehouse for additional ageing. We draw samples every few months, trial blend, and then taste test to make sure that the finishing flavours do not overtake the flavours of the original whisky. The result is a perfect combination of the elemental character of Western Canadian grain and yeast, the dry fruit of first use oak, and the polish of the European brandy casks.
Since we always have a portfolio of products ageing and finishing, we are in a unique position to experiment and come up with blends that you simply won’t find any other distiller trying. Take, for example, our award winning 18 year old Jerez finished corn whisky which we blended with a small amount of younger straight rye, just to give it a more complex yet subtle spicy finish. It’s truly a case of the whole being far greater than the sum of the parts.
It takes decades of careful aging to make a great, complex whisky, so why dilute the flavour to a standard 40% ABV? For us, cask strength whisky is not about alcohol, it’s about flavour. Every batch of our whisky has its own unique “sweet spot” between strength and flavour. We taste test every whisky, look for blending opportunities, and bottle it as close to true cask strength as we can based on the original mash, the final blend, the age, and the finish. Finally, the product is bottled with no chill filtering and no colouring or caramel added.