Black Velvet Toasted Caramel 35% alc/vol


Succulent buttery caramel cream, canned cream-style corn and Mackintosh's toffee waft gently into softly glowing peppery rye spices.“Glad to hear it has inter-generational appeal,” my friend at Black Velvet responds when I tell her how much my adult children are enjoying their first taste of toasted caramel whisky. To the long-time whisky lover, flavoured whisky might seem anathema at first. And this one is very much, flavoured. But when you can get your 20-something-year-old son to sit and sip a dram while you chat, you begin to see whisky through different eyes. And Black Velvet’s new toasted caramel whisky really does appeal to new drinkers.Black Velvet Whisky first saw the light of day at Toronto’s Gilbey distillery, in 1951. Originally called Black Label, the name evolved into Black Velvet at the suggestion of distiller, Jack Napier. He felt this better reflected the velvety taste and smoothness of the whisky. Demand for quality Canadian whisky was high in the early fifties and Black Velvet was so successful that liquor stores had to be rationed until production could be ramped up. This only led to further demand, boosting the popularity of Black Velvet even more.In the late 1960s, the brand’s managers launched an iconic advertising campaign for the whisky featuring a “Black Velvet lady.” Before its run ended two decades later, the campaign had helped to launch the careers of such stars as Christie Brinkley, Cheryl Tiegs, and Cybil Shepard. It also helped to make Black Velvet a household name.Today, the Black Velvet Distilling Company is located near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Lethbridge, Alberta, not far from the sites of some of Canada’s early, historic whisky forts. Here, the distillery has access to the crystal waters of the Canadian Rockies. It still distills, matures and blends Black Velvet with the same care and craftsmanship that Jack Napier practiced back in 1951.Black Velvet is made from corn and a smaller amount of rye grain. The corn and the rye spirits are distilled separately, at different times, using a continuous four-column distillation process consisting of a beer column, an extractive distillation column, a fusel oil column, and a rectifying column. These columns are equipped with copper trays and mesh to ensure that no off-notes make their way into the spirit. This is a key factor in creating the clean crispness of Black Velvet.The whisky begins to take shape when newly distilled corn spirits are flavored with rye high wines. High wines are the highly concentrated spirit flavoring that is largely responsible for the spicy fruitiness of Black Velvet whisky. Using a unique technique called “blending at birth”, rye high wines are mingled with corn base spirit then filled into new, charred, white American oak barrels. Here the two distillates marry and mature into the smooth, flavorful whisky known the world over as Black Velvet.To make Black Velvet Toasted Caramel, an extra step is added: An all-natural, proprietary blend of toasted caramel flavorings is infused into mature Black Velvet whisky to create the final nectar. Nose: Caramel cream, toasted oak and fresh hot toffee. Just a trace of rich sweet spirit rides a rippling swell of roasted toastiness which will soon have you hearing Yule logs a cracklin’.Palate: Toffee-sweet with the woody heart of maple syrup, rousing warm pepper and a balancing citrus pith. The pepper grows more intense with each sip as a welcome rich, buttery creaminess envelopes the palate. Whisky notes themselves hang way in the background at first, with just the essence of the rye overlain with buckets of toasty caramel. The simple and sweet beginning becomes much less one-dimensional as developing pepper and rye spices push the flavour more into whisky territory.Finish: Surprisingly long and whisky-like with a slight heat and a delightfully clean tannic pithiness. Peppery rye spices that were masked in the caramel begin to glow softly in the throat.Empty Glass: Bold and full caramel, fresh-baked buns, and vague wisps of grapefruit juice.$27.65 at LCBO beginning in mid- to late-September.Other flavoured whiskies include:Dock 57 SpicedDock 57 BlackberryForty Creek Cream Liquor Gibson’s Maple 100th Grey CupHighwood Canadian Maple Whisky Revelstoke SpicedWhite Owl Spiced