Centennial Rye rejuvenates the image of Canadian whiskey


One night, I was at the LCBO looking for a whiskey to bring to a friend’s party. I had no particular ideas as to what I wanted but, like most folks, I always aim for the magical intersection between cost and quality and I also like new products.

The Centennial 10 Year Old Rye Whiskey caught my eye. Most Canadian whiskeys aren’t rye whiskeys (most distillers use corn, barley and wheat in their batches and there has to be over 51% rye for it to be labelled as such) and although I couldn’t remember trying one before, I remembered reading that rye whiskey is generally blended into other whiskeys to give them more body and was interested in trying the real thing.

Mind you, it’s important to keep in mind that stronger-tasting doesn’t necessarily mean rougher. I had heard that this wasn’t some poor man’s Canadian Club and since I always figured a true Canadian whiskey should be like the bastard offspring of an Irish whiskey and an American bourbon, I was ready for good things.

The nose was clean with nary a smell of alcohol and barely any oak. It was rather sweet and kind of reminded me of Pyrat; I swear I could almost smell molasses!

The taste was almost as smooth as the nose. There was a continuation of the sweet molasses feel and it’s also quite peppery with a tingling sensation that stays on your tongue than slides down to your belly for a pleasurable finish.

The bottle was a big hit at the party and we managed to polish off half it it that night with a couple friends coming back to get reacquainted in the morning.

I’d been procrastinating for awhile but I’ve finally got a bottle again and I might even buy one for my fiancee’s dad as gift for when I get down there. At the very least, it’s a good representation of what Canadian whiskey should be and while it may not hold up to some finer blends, I think it’s very good at what it does.

At $24.75, it outperforms whiskeys that are twice its price.

However, you best be quick about picking up a bottle for yourself because there are less than 170 bottles left in downtown Toronto and the distillery is in flux due to its current owners (Hiram Walker) trying to figure out how to integrate it into their family which includes Canadian Club.

As it stands, no one knows if it will outlast the season. Pick up two or three and stuff ‘em in your closet. You won’t regret it whilst enduring all the bad weather you’ll be having in March. And I’ll cheer you from across the ocean as I relax on a beach in Waihi.

Innis & Gunn score again with Rum Cask Finish


While I have yet to find an Innis & Gunn product I don’t like, anything’s possible in the wild and crazy world of beer, particularly during the winter season. I’d hazard a guess that I probably won’t be too keen on at least half of what I have in my fridge but the fun’s in trying and you’ll never see my pass up a new brew.

So, on to the Innis & Gunn Rum Cask Finish Oak Aged Beer… I was blown away by how goddamned good it looked; I’ve always been a sucker for boxed beer (even if it is a waste of packaging). Some folks like to serve Innis & Gunn slightly chilled but I don’t bother. It was quite cold coming out of the fridge but I find it warms up a bit in an unchilled pint glass and by the time you take your last sip, it’s generally opened up quite a bit.

Right at the start, I was blown away by the lovely aroma of rum; it was very noticeable and not anything similar to a cheap white rum. It reminded me more of Gosling’s or even Pyrat (which I still sorely miss… Although what’s up with the those two websites? I don’t mind Flash but the floating links are really annoying and not intuitive at all. Whatever happened to a good sidebar menu?)

Taking my first sip, I could pick up on the caramel and molasses notes. The oak and rum have changed what I would imagine is a fairly standard Scottish ale into something special. In fact, I think I like it better than the Whiskey Cask which is saying a lot as that’s one of the best beers I’ve ever had.

There’s also no hops bitterness apparent which is fine by me ‘cos I’m not a hophead at all. Give me something smooth and mellow and I’m in heaven… this is definitely my kind of beer.

I hope this sticks around for a couple more months; I’m going to have to go back for seconds.

Does Innis & Gunn get distributed in New Zealand? I can only hope…