Lot No. 40 - 2012 Release 43% alc/vol
The Legend Of Lot 40 Is Huge.Hard Christmas candy, sour rye and sweet fruitiness with hot pepper, hotter spices and heavy rye bread. A pleasing farminess accents sweet floral esters. ★★★★★Lot No. 40 has generated more enthusiasm among whisky connoisseurs around the world than any Canadian whisky I can think of. This has become the Black Orchid of Canadian whisky, the quintessential Canadian rye. And finally, having gone missing for over a decade, this magnificent, luxuriantly flavourful whisky is coming back to liquor store shelves.When Lot 40 disappeared, at the beginning of the 21st century, a frantic whisky hunt began. Connoisseurs who had tasted this magic potion searched the web and every mom-and-pop liquor store in North America in search of any old dusties that might still remain. Every now and then a rumour would surface. A stash had been found in Texas, Alberta, or even Denmark. Immediately a Klondikesque rush of whisky cognoscenti would follow.Now, in 2012, Corby Distilleries has responded to the wistful pleas of connoisseurs and whisky sleuths alike. At last, they are re-releasing Lot 40. The whisky will be back on LCBO store shelves around the middle of October 2012, and in five other markets shortly thereafter. (BC, AB, SK, MB, and NB.)Pernod-Ricard owns the Hiram Walker distillery where Lot 40 spirit flows from a single, 12,000-litre copper pot still. When Pernod-Ricard, one of the world’s largest spirits makers resurrects a Canadian whisky icon, you know something big is happening in whiskydom. Do not kid yourself. This is an occasion. Canadian whisky is on the rise and Lot No. 40 is leading the charge.With only minor updates, the new packaging resembles the Canadian Whisky Guild original. And the instantly recognizable Lot 40 rye-bread nose and palate fairly surge out of the glass. It is a most nostalgic moment for those who remember Lot 40. But is the new whisky identical to the original? Yes, and no.The 2012 release has just a tad more fruit, sour rye, and flint than the original. But this is neither a drawback, nor a surprise. The flavour of rye grain is strongly influenced by growing conditions and each year’s crop has noticeable differences. This is the reality of working with rye. It is easy to compensate for these variations when you distill some of the spirit to high strength or when you blend rye with corn and barley whisky. But for an all-rye whisky, each year’s batch will be a little bit different. Corby’s knows this and has clearly labeled this new edition as “2012 Édition Release.”Former master blender David Doyle and Corby’s current master blender, Dr. Don Livermore had a hand in making the 2012 version of Lot 40. But as a tribute to Booth who originally brought the whisky to market, the President of Corby sent him a letter asking if they could revive the brand using the Lot 40 name.In the 1990's, Booth himself had resurrected Lot 40 using an old recipe that had been in his family for seven generations. He named the whisky after the homestead of his early-Ontario ancestor, Joshua Booth, himself a distiller. Joshua had a pot still, to be sure, and had developed this recipe to make his whisky, but whether or not he was actually licensed to operate that still is not certain. Such were times in pioneer Ontario.While I was researching my book about Canadian whisky I had occasion to spend the better part of a morning with the one and only D. Michael Booth. Mike was just bubbling with information and stories – so many stories that I could barely keep up with him. And one by one he pulled a collection of historic bottles out of a cardboard box, each with a story of its own. Slowly, we went over them, lost in a whisky reverie. When we parted, Mike pressed one of these bottles into my hand. “This is my highest achievement as a blender,” he told me. “I want you to write about it.” It was Lot No. 40! – Lot 40 – his great-great-great-great grandfather, Joshua Booth’s wonderful, magnificent, historic whisky.Nose: Big, hard Christmas candy, fruity, sour rye bread, hints of pickled artichoke hearts, and a barn full of dry hay lead off. Then acetone and sweet esters bring a sweet singing fruitiness which soon wallows into muddy earthy tones. Baked rye surges forward again with loads of bitter rye bread and some very farmy aromas - the kind that make you take a deep breath and contemplate moving to the country. Finally, the bouquet of candy and spice returns. The longer you wait, the more that happens, and it all revolves around rye fragrances, and rye bread.Palate: Rye: Hard rye, hot spices, pepper, sweet and sour, delicately bitter rye, and hot cinnamon hearts. Then a cocktail of fresh green fruit and dark ripe fruit. The peppery warmth sets your lips and tongue aglow. A chalky sweetness is pushed aside by tart grapefruit pith, hints of oakiness, bitter cumquats and sweet mandarins.Finish: Ultra-long with pepper, sweet hard candy, hot spices, hints of cloves, a certain muddiness, then hard clean slate. As other flavours slowly fade, hot spices and glimmers of sweetness linger seemingly forever. Finally all is washed away on a tsunami of sour rye bread. Empty Glass: Floral sweetness, rye grain, masses of toasted oak and fresh-cut firewood.Very Highly Recommended. ★★★★★$39.95 at LCBO beginning about October 15, 2012.The original Lot No. 40 is reviewed here.