February 12, 2011

Collingwood Blended Canadian Whisky

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to try my hand at blending Canadian whisky under the tutelage of Master Distiller Harold Ferguson at the Canadian Mist distillery in Collingwood, Ontario. (Harold retired in 2010.) One thing I learned was that Canada has very strict rules about how its whiskies are made. So, I was quite anxious to sample a new expression, named for the distillery's location and just now being rolled out in select U.S. markets.

Brown-Forman, which owns the distillery where Collingwood is made, takes great pains to emphasize that this is not a Canadian Mist product. It is made with a separate mash still, separate barrels, and so on, created under the auspices of Chris Morris, B-F's master distiller.

The Collingwood bottle is flask-shaped, slightly concave in the back, with an over-flap protecting the screw-off cap. Collingwood is triple distilled, matured in white oak casks, then finished in toasted maplewood, something unique in the world of Canadian whiskies.

What all that effort leads to is a gorgeous deep amber color, a caramel, maple-y nose, and one of the smoothest hits on the tongue I've tasted in years. A variety of notes caress the palate -- some light spice such as coriander, a touch of rose petals; then maple and brown sugar assert themselves, resulting in a long, clean finish.

Suggested retail price: $26.99 for the 750ml bottle.

Go to Dowd's Spirits Notebook.

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