G’day guys. We’re here today with another whisky after a string of wines. I did originally plan to pick up where I had left off with my continuation of premium bottles from pub hero labels. But as last of the bottles I could find that fit into this categorys premium is evident by it’s pricetag, I opted to stretch it out until a later date. And instead return to a more favorable subject of mine anyway, more original and less publicized labels.
A few months ago now I wrote an article on the anomaly of French whisky, specifically G. Rozelieures. And wrote about the pedigree attained by other countries in the exploits of whisky, citing Yamazaki, following in the trail blazed originally by the Scots. What I had left out, embarrassingly, was Canadian whisky. Canada, that nation of miles of pure unspoilt wilderness. The United State’s neighbor to the north. What do we know about Canada at a glance? They built a nation on the basis of maple syrup, the season of winter, log cabins, moose and waterfowl hunting, and politeness. Their idea of swearing is words like “canoe-hopper”. They’re one of the eight countries whose land stretches inside the Arctic Circle, their country boasts a sliver of that picturesque heavenly mountain range the Rockies, their summer exists in the same sense that Australia’s winter does, in that last year it was a Wednesday. And in WWII, when the Royal Canadian Army took hostile soldiers back to Canada, the prisoners of war liked Canada so much they stayed. Just think of the Simpsons character Ned Flanders as a country. It was although God thought “Okay here’s what I’ll do for now. Canada can have breakfast, Texas can have lunch, and dinner can just go to whoever puts in the most work”. And to this date, I still have no idea between France or the United Kingdom who actually owns Canada, as it seems both seem to claim ownership. Sounds like the perfect winter wonderland, and without the language barrier that is at present keeping me from visiting Russia. So if any leading liquor producers or sellers, preferably as far north as possible who have a place for an Australian blogger who’s idea of a holiday is to accommodate myself like I do my whiskey, on ice, have your people contact my people. Whisky, of course, isn’t new to Canada. We all know another well-known pub hero label for instance, Canadian Club. Fireball cinnamon whisky is another that is known by many. But Collingwood I felt was a good place to start on the subject.
On the back of the bottle the label boasts to be Canada’s longest continually operating distillery. This was the bragging right, for which I bought this. It would be at this point normally I would delve deeper and provide some little tidbits on the label’s history and how and why it came to be what it came to be. But of course, the idea that because I’ve used the world’s biggest source of information to seek this information hundreds of times before I could simply do this once more to look up some background information on a bottle of malt liquor from a first world nation, apparently just made too much sense. So unless the label Collingwood somehow gets wind of this article and would like to give me some insight, the blurb on the website will have to suffice. What soon becomes more than an educated guess, is that the whisky, is named after the town in which the distillery lies, Collingwood, Ontario. The town itself, an industrious, rural harbour town. Nestled between the Georgia Bay, the large freshwater lake on the southeastern border of Ontario that crosses over the U.S. border and eventually becomes Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, and the Blue Mountains, a region just west of smaller mountains that house a ski resort. The town was first settled in eighteen-fifty-eight, nine years before the Canadian Confederation, named after the naval sailor Admirald Cuthbert Collingwood, the second in command of Lord Nelson. Whom, after the Battle of Trafalgar in the Napoleonic Wars, took command after Nelson’s death. Makes you grateful we name things after people’s surnames rather than their Christian names, I don’t see anybody buying a bottle of Cuthbert. The town then become a hub for shipping and shipbuilding, known for shipping grains and other goods, at one point it was known by the name of the Hens and Chickens Harbour. The shipbuilding was such, that during the second world war, the town built Corvettes for the Royal Canadian Navy (the battleships, not the car, yeah I was disappointed too). But eventually due to overseas competition, in September nineteen-eighty-six the shipbuilding industry of the town came to an end. With so much to do with grains, it was only natural that it was only a matter of time before the thought crossed somebody’s mind to do something with them. As I’ve said, unfortunately all I could dig up on the history of the label, is that it was named after the town, that was named after a English naval sailor.
We’ve got a fair few of liquors on this page that have been treated to many and varied descriptions of oaks and finishes. Jacob’s Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, finished in Irish whiskey barrels. Teeling Irish whiskey, finished in Nicaraguan rum barrels. Bushmills Single Malt Irish whiskey, oaked in Kentucky bourbon barrels, and Portuguese sherry barrels. But what makes all these treatments seem uniform by comparison is that these are oaked…in oak. We’ve all accepted the term “oaking” as a given. What caught my eye with this bottle, is that this bottle is finished after it’s main oaking stage, not in any oak with any varying imparted flavors or specific species of timber. But in toasted maple. Maple, being so patriotically Canadian, they felt strong enough about it to put it on their flag. There are a lot of highly regarded Canadian whiskies, Canadian Club holds the place of the covergirl Canadian whisky, that need not be refined to the baseline blended whisky. Crown Royal is one I have been recommending to others since the day I tried it. But clearly Collingwood wanted to stand apart. Maple, the syrup, the world holds in high regards, we use it on pancakes, to marinade meats, the Canadians hold it in such high regard some producers bottle it in wine bottles, with vintages and all. So for the whisky to be finished in the toasted staves of the tree from which it is harvested inspires ideas of a truly tasty whisky.
The bottle itself is built alike a hip flask. A curved rectangular short frame, and a stout thick neck. The label itself is a tan brown, with dashed silver lines along the sides. As if they wanted to fit their bottle with a leather label with stitching, but didn’t want to make the bottle too expensive. This is just based on the basis that Crown Royal famously sell their bottles with a purple velvet bag. The whisky within, a reddish iridescent caramel-brown. I look forward to opening the bottle and seeing if the nose holds any promises of any tastes of maple. What I do get, is the confined smell of the piece plastic in the neck of the bottle after I had opened the cap. Confusing, as I could see no sediment inside of the bottle from the outside. The plasticky smell, irritating and interfering with the full uninhabited nose of the whisky. So I decided to pour a glass and then judge. It should be noted that the neck of the Collingwood bottle is far wider than most, as not even the widest of my pourers would fit sufficiently. Unbothered, the nose is easily mistakable for a bourbon. It’s full of spices on the sinuses, but also of the syrupy smelling sweetness of the contributing party that need not be mentioned. A nose of spicy ruggedness that does not align with a taste that matches that of Kentucky straight bourbon. The taste is extremely sweet and fruity. Maple, goes without saying, but also raspberries, cranberries, subtle notes of oak spread throughout and a juicy and palpable exit of strawberries. Spice mixed in, but drowned out with the fruity sweetness of the finish.
To summarise: This whisky is seductively, affectionately fruity. Bordering upon tastes expected of a liqueur. An underrated jewel from the frozen north. A bottle opened is not expected to exist on a liquor shelf indefinitely. A month tops. Would definitely buy again. Cheers