Black Velvet Reserve 8 years old (40% abv (80 proof))
Caramel and pepper dominate well-defined fruits, fresh oak, vanilla, rye spices and zesty undertones. Both dusty and oily. Rich and Round. ★★★★Black Velvet is a hugely popular Canadian whisky, both in the home market and abroad. However, massive sales in the U.S. have led the marketing branch of Schenley, with which the Black Velvet brand was consolidated in 1997, to give special attention to the American market. The hugely popular three-year-old Black Velvet mixing whisky had already been tweaked to suit American palates before Black Velvet joined the Schenley family, but that was not enough for some whisky lovers. Its popularity led to demand for an up-market version in the U.S. as well, and as a result we have the eight-year-old Black Velvet Reserve.While the younger Black Velvet is intended primarily as a mixing whisky, the Reserve was created for sipping. But this is not just the three-year-old with five more years in the barrel. Like its stable mates, Black Velvet Reserve is blended at birth from corn base spirits, with partly matured rye, corn flavouring whiskies, and a dash of corn and rye high wines. But once again, the formula has been tweaked. So, in addition to five extra years spent drawing flavours in from the barrel, Black Velvet Reserve also includes more of the flavouring whiskies, giving it a luxurious mouthfeel with a creamy richness.Nose: Rich and expressive, with sweet rye spices, prunes, peaches, sweet citrus and kiwi. Well-integrated oaky notes – stacks of freshly cut lumber – settle in to stay. Heavy sweet notes include butterscotch, caramel, toffee, and burnt sugar. It has the dusty smell of hard rye, yet somehow it also smells oily, with just a hint of spirit. Neither overly complex nor particularly subtle.Palate: Caramel and pepper dominate as sweetness and heat joust on the tongue with burnt sugar, caramel, toffee, and lots of white pepper each taking their turn. The pepper generates a lot of heat, but seems to stand apart from the rest. Faint whispers of fresh-cut wood slowly turn to shouts. Cutting zesty grapefruit peel that appears early on, balances an otherwise creamy mouthfeel. Dark fruits contribute a sweet fruitiness. The wood, too, is held in balance by a subdued sweetness with hot pepper on top so it never becomes astringent or pulling. A bit softer than the Deluxe, and both sweeter and hotter. Although quite rich and flavourful, the palate remains a bit simple. Loads of caramel, vanilla like crazy, blackstrap molasses, rye spices, burnt sugar, sweet ripe black fruit, and zesty undertones.Finish: Medium-short. The pepper lasts a long time eventually fading out on prune juice, ripe black fruit, and toffee to a cleansing zestiness. Lots of wood.Empty Glass: Closed with vague suggestions of dark fruit. Licorice?? Sawdust, caramel and fudge, dust, water.About $13.00 in U. S. liquor stores.Highly Recommended. ★★★★History of Black Velvet and its distilleries (Gilbey, Diageo/Valleyfield, Schenley, Palliser) here.Black Velvet Deluxe reviewed here.Black Velvet 3 year old reviewed here.