Fruity sweet with suggestions of tobacco, a long soft peppery glow, hints of malt and lovely dried fruit notes. Very soft and buttery, mouth warming and creamy on the palate. ★★★★★
Pike Creek 21 Year Speyside Malt Cask Finish – in the age of 140-character tweets, just the name uses 44 and this very special whisky earns every one of them.
A blend of corn base whisky and less than 5% rye, Pike Creek is a Canadian whisky that draws some of its character from the previous contents of used oak barrels.
An early edition, now discontinued, employed Port barrel finishing, creating a remarkably balanced, fruity, easy sipper. The core version now, is finished in rum barrels giving it a bit more punch and more complexity. (The rye content has also been boosted a bit.)
So, finishing is important for Pike Creek and for this special 21-year-old, Master Blender, Dr. Don Livermore turned to re-fill bourbon barrels that had first been used to mature an unnamed Scotch malt whisky for Chivas Brothers in Scotland.
As part of the 2017 Rare Releases range of the Northern Border Collection, Pike Creek 21 year old does its job well, taking the whisky in a new direction without losing the underlying Pike Creek house style.
Twenty-one years in used Canadian whisky barrels, stored in warehouses with probably the broadest temperature ranges in North America, created an environment that maximized oxidation and angels’ share.
Given enough time – and 21 years is plenty – oxidation transforms ethanol into the glorious range of high esters tasted here. And with nearly 3% annual loss due to evaporation, large volumes of oxygen seeped in. From 42 barrels that the whisky started out in, just enough remained to fill 24 Speyside malt barrels for finishing.
Livermore’s shorthand for the fruity tones is green apples, and those tones are abundantly present here. As expected for Pike Creek, the whisky has a sweet aroma with clean old barn boards, and from the Scotch-barrel finishing, very subtle remnants of peat smoke. (Don’t try too hard if these don’t pop out at you.) There is a fruity sweetness and a glowing spiciness throughout, with dry grain, malted barley, crisp clean wood, mild dark fruits and a round buttery mouthfeel. Finishes on peppery fruit and old lumber.
★★★★★ Very highly recommended.
$89.95 at LCBO. Price subject to verification when it is released in October 2017.