Collingwood 21-Year-Old Canadian Rye
Dark rye bread with complex undertones of herbs, spring flowers, newly turned earth, hot white pepper, licorice and creamy milk chocolate. The defining feature is it's creamy smoothness. A real treat and a genuine treasure. ★★★★☆The whisky story of 2011 may well have been Collingwood Canadian Whisky. This richly flavoured upscale brew was distilled at Brown-Forman’s Canadian Mist distillery in Collingwood, an Ontario resort town a couple of hours north of Toronto. Collingwood, the town sits on the shores of Nottawasaga Bay, an inlet on the massive, crystal clear Georgian Bay.Collingwood, the whisky, is unique. Once it has matured, it is blended, then rested for up to a year in a huge marrying vat filled with maplewood staves. Not maple syrup, mind you, but maple wood. The result simply gushes berry fruits. Intended for the burgeoning Canadian connoisseur whisky market, it's not your dad’s Canadian Mist.You never know what secrets may lurk in those maturing houses on Collingwood’s Pretty River Parkway. For example, more than two decades ago Canadian Mist distiller, Harold Ferguson put away 50 barrels of 100% malted rye spirit. It was an experiment; he had no actual plans for the whisky. Just this year his successor, David Dobbin deemed that whisky ready to drink and has bottled it just in time for Christmas. It goes by the name of Collingwood 21-year-old Canadian rye whisky.It's a one-time-only bottling, and is available in Ontario and 16 U.S. states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. My advice? If you see it, buy two.This small batch of all malted-rye whisky was crafted back in the summer of 1991. It then spent 21 years in oak barrels before resting in its own marrying vat with toasted maplewood just like Collingwood original. The result? The smoothest high-rye whisky you'll ever taste. Simply wonderful.Nose: Heavy with dark rye bread, pumpernickel, and perhaps a hint of yeast. Vague floral notes blossom into full-on sweet spring flowers amidst remnants of last year’s dried grass and leaves, and the earthiness of a frosty spring garden thawing in the sun. A creaminess reminiscent of raisins dipped in milk chocolate mutes the sweetness of ripe dark fruits.Palate: Oh, so rye! Sweet and just loaded with rye bread notes, hot spices, white pepper, and a wonderful pithy bitterness. Faint licorice notes waver between root beer concentrate and the herbal-licorice element of sweet parsnips. Syrupy and very full bodied, this creamy, ultra-flavourful whisky simply defines “smooth.” Although restrainedly hot and provokingly spicy, no specific spices emerge. A vague fruitiness dissolves into a beautiful bitter citrus pith. If ever a whisky was mellow, Collingwood 21 is it.Finish: Longish and tingling with lingering dark herbal rye bread notes and hints of caramel.Empty Glass: Sweet caramel and sour rye with pitchy-sweet clean lumber, floral notes and almost herbal hints of peppermint.Highly recommended. ★★★★☆Suggested U.S. retail price: $69.99Collingwood Canadian whisky is reviewed here.Canadian Mist is reviewed here.Canadian Mist Black Diamond is reviewed here.