Still Waters 1+11 Canadian Whisky (40% alc/vol)


A tingling effervescence turns initially buttery and mouth-filling, toffee indulgences into clear, clean refreshment. Ever-present hot pepper butresses a richness of body and crisp cleansing pith. ★★★★☆Hats off to the LCBO. No, the Auditor General is not their biggest fan. Yes, efficiency expert, Don Drummond, thinks they could put a whole lot more money into the public treasury if they stopped promoting Ontario wine (think local, Don?). On the other hand, Ontario whisky lovers are beaming at an opportunity they share with no one else in the world. Still Waters distillery has produced its first blended whisky and LCBO has secured the whole 90-case first batch to sell across Ontario in its Vintages stores.It’s about a year and a half since craft distiller, Barry Stein brought two brand new blended whiskies to Whisky Live for visitors to try. Stein, and his partner, Barry Bernstein had sourced the constituents of these whiskies from one of the major distilleries and were conducting focus groups to gauge reactions. Positive results encouraged the partners to continue tweaking their blend until finally on their 11th try they hit the winning formula. The result is a scrumptious mingling of sourced whisky, aged four to six years, and top-dressed with a splash of Still Waters own spirit.It’s a succulent dram, dry on the nose until flourishing buttery toffee notes envelope the bouquet. It’s also a prizewinner, scoring 91 points at New York’s Ultimate Spirits Challenge in March 2012, just one point away from winning the Chairman’s Trophy.First and foremost, Still Waters is a craft whisky distillery, sourcing local grain, then fermenting, distilling, ageing, and bottling it right on site. However, making great whisky takes time. According to distiller and company co-founder, Barry Bernstein, “While waiting for our single malt and straight rye whiskies to mature, we wanted to release a traditional Canadian blended whisky. We personally selected the whiskies in this blend and are quite proud of the international recognition it has already received.”Still Waters’ pot-distilled single malt whisky is made from 100% Canadian two-row malted barley. Similarly, its corn and rye whiskies begin with locally sourced Ontario-grown grain. True to the craft distilling tradition, its whiskies are made by hand in small batches using artisanal distilling techniques.If Still Waters’ own distillations continue to mature as they have, we could start to see some single barrel whisky offerings as early as 2013. Let’s hope the LCBO snags those ones for Ontario whisky lovers as well. Meanwhile let’s taste Still Waters’ sourced, and hand-blended Canadian whisky. Nose: Begins dry and slightly closed before slatey mineral notes and dusty rye emerge only to slide away on wafting hints of dry grain and linseed oil. A smattering of pansies announces layer two: sweetness, with vague initial hints of toffee that build to a crowning crescendo, accented by fluttering fragrances of citrus fruit.Palate: This whisky feels so good on the palate that at first you could overlook its pulsing pepper. Rich, weighty, and bordering on chewy, with slightly pulling oak tannins and sweet caramels, it almost feels like pancake syrup. The medium-hot pepper does start early though and it stays long with a tingling spiciness that leans towards ginger. A noticeably forward citrus pithiness builds on the early oak and soon develops equally appealing elements of tart citrus peel. It’s a neat balancing act performed with aplomb. As the middle develops a sizzling effervescence, the syrupy feel dissolves into pure refreshment. Hard-core whisky fans will revel in the sheer luxury of sipping this one neat, but do yourselves a little favour and just one time, add a splash of ginger ale.Finish: Medium, fading to an almost nutty finale with clean grapefruit pith and hints of pepper along the way.Empty Glass: Buttery Mackintosh toffee and clean threads of oak.$34.95 at LCBO Vintages locations (beginning April 14, 2012).Highly recommended. ★★★★☆Canadian whisky from Still Waters distillery April 2012