Rich & Rare Reserve (40% alc./vol. (80 proof))
Full-flavoured and peppery with creamy maple syrup, clean oak, hints of rose petals, dark fruit, and tangy oranges. Fruity and Spicy. ★★★★Although originally produced by the firm of Gooderham and Worts, Rich & Rare Canadian whisky became an established Hiram Walker brand, distilled in Walkerville, Ontario. During Prohibition the Walker plant was purchased by one Harry Hatch. With a partner, Hatch already owned Gooderham and Worts and the two companies were soon merged. Then in 1987, the business, by then called Hiram Walker & Sons, passed into the hands of Allied Lyons, a British firm. But that was not the end of its corporate identity changes. A few years later, in 2005, the French conglomerate, Pernod Ricard took over the company and it was not long before they divested some of the Hiram Walker brands, including the aptly-named Rich & Rare.The Sazerac Company of New Orleans, now the owner of the brand, bottles Rich & Rare at its facility in Frankfort, Kentucky. The whisky itself continues to be distilled, matured, and blended in Canada. Recently, Sazerac launched a richer and rarer version in the U.S. calling it Rich & Rare Reserve. Again this is a whisky that has been distilled, aged, and blended in Canada then shipped to Frankfort for bottling.Where R&R is sweet and creamy, R&R Reserve shows a lot more influence of spicy rye grain and oak barrels. Its sculptured bottle and gold crown cap are reminiscent of Crown Royal, Canada’s best selling whisky, but beyond the packaging there is little resemblance to Crown Royal. R&R Reserve is a fine whisky in its own right and definitely takes the already buttery mouth-filling qualities of R&R up a notch.Nose: Maple syrup, creamy caramel and rich dark fruits with sweet rye spices, fresh water plants, a mild oakiness and lemony rose petals.Palate: Sweet, rich and creamy with a syrupy body. Quite peppery with hot tingling rye spices, including ginger and cinnamon sticks. Develops lots of oaky tones with some gentle tannins in the middle. Not as fruity as the nose, but elements of dark fruit remain as do oranges which complement a growing citric pithiness. Suggestions of lemony yellow roses linger throughout, although way in the background, along with a somewhat earthy maple syrup. It almost feels as if there are three distinct layers – sweet fragrant butterscotch, clean oak, and robust white pepper. Measured against the standard of Rich & Rare this is bigger, fruitier, hotter, oakier, more complex and definitely not as sweet.Finish: Longish and hot, with just hints of flowers.Empty Glass: Hints of dry wood – and little else.$13.00 at liquor stores in the U.S.Highly recommended ★★★★Rich & Rare is reviewed here.