Gibson’s Finest 100th Grey Cup Limited Edition
Spicy rye, butterscotch, and vanilla fudge, glowing with heat. Hot pepper is softened by vanilla ice cream and fresh dairy butter. Real maple sugar and real maple syrup accentuate clean wood.In 2010, when Brian Kinsman assumed the role of Malt Master at Scotland’s Glenfiddich distillery he probably did not imagine himself coming up with a new Canadian whisky. Kinsman is only the sixth Malt Master at Glenfiddich, the first having been William Grant, who founded the distillery back in 1887. However, in addition to Glenfiddich and Balvenie in Scotland, today the firm of William Grant and Sons also owns Canada’s renowned Gibson’s Finest whiskies.Not only does Gibson's make three of Canada’s most sought after whiskies, it also sponsors one of the last remaining truly Canadian professional sports – CFL football. The annual Grey Cup game is Canada’s largest sporting event, and this year, Lord Grey’s cup will be awarded for the 100th time. What more reason could Kinsman need to come up with a commemorative whisky? And what is more Canadian than the maple leaf? Kinsman decided his new whisky would include just a touch of real Canadian maple syrup.At first he worked with Gibson’s Sterling, 12 Year Old and 18 Year Old, carefully infusing each with just a smidgen of maple syrup. He wanted to add maple notes without compromising the rye whisky flavours. The results tasted fine, but were not up to Gibson’s standards. Perhaps Kinsman should have known that adding flavour to finished Gibson’s whiskies was just gilding the lily. In any case, once he got down to creating a new blend from scratch, things began to fall into place. After much trial and error, finally he came up with the winning formula for a new whisky to be called Gibson’s Finest 100th Grey Cup Limited Edition Canadian Whisky. (Try saying that three time quickly.)Gibson’s has produced 15,000 cases of this collector’s limited edition bottling. That’s enough, they expect, to last until the Canadian football season ends in November with the 10-day Grey Cup festival in Toronto. There are no plans to repeat this special whisky. The Grey Cup game itself will be played on November 25 and already it is sold out.Nose: Even as you pour the whisky into the glass rye spices so typical of Canadian whisky waft up, with rich and creamy butterscotch hard on their heels. It’s a full and expressive nose slathered in sweet butter along with candy-cooking notes – burnt sugar, hints of caramel, hard sponge candy and then a return to rye spices, particularly mild cloves and faint hints of cinnamon. A creamy texture dominates the nose.Palate: The nose accurately predicted a creamy palate but gave no inkling of the lovely offsetting bitter citrus pithiness. As the whisky begins to warm your mouth hot notes of ground white pepper titillate the tongue just as a buttery slipperiness glides into vanilla ice cream. Chili-vanilla ice cream anyone? But where is the maple? It begins with subtle maple-ish undercurrents that slowly build into all the complexity of real Canadian maple syrup. Still, the maple does not distract but simply underscores Canadian whisky flavours, and the Gibson's signature creaminess remains. Late in flavours of maple sugar, then maple syrup are joined by herbal notes and clean dry wood. If smooth on the palate is your definition of a good whisky, then this is a great one.Finish: Long – surprisingly long – and quite peppery, structured on a subtle matrix of clean wood.Empty glass: Very expressive. Strong vanilla fudge, maple sugar, maple syrup, dry herbs and more clean wood.Available at LCBO on or about July 14th, 2012 for $34.95; on shelves across Canada by August.Gibson's Finest Sterling Edition reviewed here.Gibson's Finest 12 Year Old reviewed here.Gibson's Finest Rare 18 Year Old reviewed here.Gibson's Finest Rare Bourbon Cask reviewed here.