Northern Border Collection III: Pike Creek 21yr Speyside Finish

Part III of the Northern Border Collection series: Pike Creek 21yr Old Canadian Whiskey finished in Speyside Single Malt Casks. I’ve never been a huge fan of single malt Scotch finishes (except the the Barrell Rum one recently: review here), but I’m willing to be opened minded for top blenders when I know it isn’t a gimmick.


It’s medium straw colored, not unusual for Canadian Whiskey. Notes of toffee, caramel, roasted almonds, dark maple syrup and honeysuckle.

Easy down the hatch it goes, but perhaps a little too easy. The mouthfeel is good but not overly complex. The finish is medium length but keeps the enjoyable notes until the end.

This is another good Whiskey but not as multidimensional as I hoped. Fortunately the Speyside casks don’t overpower this whiskey, however, it just doesn’t excite me. It’s solid, but for the hype of this limited release, it doesn’t hold up. 84/100.

For a more in depth take on this Whiskey take a look at Mark Bylok’s review:


Northern Border Collection II: Lot 40 Cask Strength

Part II of my reviews of the Northern Border Collection: Lot 40 Cask Strength 12yr 55% abv. This is the one I’ve been most excited about as I’ve had samples from my friend Mark Bylok—and who doesn’t like a aged high proof rye?


Copper/dark amber color just reaching out. Sweet, inviting nose of rock candy, cracked pepper, vanilla, baking spices, maple syrup and Christmas trees.

Seriously good on the palate. Coats everything, tingles the tongue, enjoyable but not overpowering warmth and a finish that keeps going on. Sweet and spicy flavors keep going and don’t drop off. The finish is epic… worth leaving in your mouth for a few seconds to get the full flavors before swallowing to realize the total potential.

This is a special whiskey. I am 1/3 through bottle number 2,251 of 4,968. This is better than this year’s Thomas H Handy, but not as good as 2014, 2015 or 2016. It’s in the upper echelons of ryes and deserves to be. I think this is similar but a touch better than the Kentucky Owl rye release. If you can snag one of these for less than 3x retail, it’s worth it. I hope they release it again next year. 96/100.

For a more in depth review, check out Mark Bylok’s Piece:

Northern Border Collection I: Gooderham & Worts Little Trinity 17yr

Part of the Canadian only release Northern Border collection, Goderham & Worts Little Trinity is a 17yr Canadian Whiskey from rye, corn and wheat. Bottled at 45% abv.  Stay tuned to all four of the releases in the coming days.


Medium amber color. Smooth nose of baked bread, rock candy, stewed baby carrots with butter and brown sugar, and candy corn. Not a huge aroma from the glass. Much less spicy than I was expecting and less “Canadian” from normal Canadian whiskies but maybe that’s because it’s using more corn and wheat than normal.

After open for a while the classic Canadian flavors come out: maple syrup, vanilla, etc… like a Canadian pretending to be American, after a drink or two, the “eh” comes out and can’t be denied. It’s more enjoyable as a Canadian compared to an American imposter.

Enjoyable dram, super easy going down, very little heat. Sweet notes come through on the palate. Moderate oils and tannins, chill filtering removed a lot of them, but there still is enough there to ensure the finish is more than a minute. Finish tapers off without losing the sweet flavors which is nice.

Looks like this was probably aged in all used cooperage given the colors and flavors. It’s enjoyable but not something I would chase down. The CAD price is certainly right at retail, but impossible to get that price in the USA. Probably best to use for trade bait. 89/100.

For a more in depth analysis, check out Mark Bylok’s piece:

2017’s Top 5 Bourbons & Whiskies Under $100

I’m using the secondary prices (which are very close to MSRP for these picks) for this list as nothing bothers me more than someone saying at $89.99 MSRP Sazerac 18 is their favorite bottle under $100.  Get real guys!  The secondary market is here to say and you might as well just get used to it. Also… only two here are actually Bourbons, I have one rum, one rye and one corn whiskey… but who’s really counting?


Barrell Bourbon is the winner here, although it is the most expensive of this list.  Usually retailing for around $80, they consistently beat out bottles that you can’t touch on the secondary for 2-4x the price.  While they still are priced under $100, stock up. MSRP $80.

Pikesville is my favorite rye under $100.  115 proof, delicious.  Thank you Heaven Hill!  Second year in a row it continues to be available, awesome and affordable.  MSRP $60.

Foursquare Rum 2004 Exceptional Cask Selection… Exceptional Cask Selection Mark III Single Blended Rum aged 11 years in ex-Bourbon casks, distilled in 2004, released in 2015.  It’s full proof, 59%.  Thanks for Fred Minnick for tipping me off to this one.  Yes, it’s not a Bourbon, but it’s aged in ex-Bourbon casks and is just as delicious. Order one today! MSRP $60.

Old Weller Antique 107 Store Pick Non-Chill Filtered.  Make friends with your local liquor store owner.  Beg them to get a bottle of OWA NCF, ask to buy 4 of them when they come in.  Best $35 you can spend.  MSRP $35.

Mellow Corn.  I’m sorry, you may think I’m nuts by putting this on the list, but for $9.99, bottled in bond, again, thank you Heaven Hill.  This is my go-to after I’m three sheets to the wind and shouldn’t be touching the top shelf stuff, because it holds up and still has a good taste. MSRP $9.99.

Honorable mention goes to Old Forester 1920 Prohibition.  It should have been the number five on the list, but I just couldn’t help myself by putting on Mellow Corn instead.

Agree?  Disagree?  Continue the discussion on my Twitter @newbourbondrink or Facebook  https://www.rumsixtysix.comfoursquare-rum-distillery.html/

Northern Border Collection IV: J.P. Wiser’s 35yr

Saving what potentially is the best for last (and definitely the most expensive).


Very lightly colored, like most whiskies from the north.  The nose is without a doubt Canadian: vanilla extract, maple syrup, rock candy, pecan pie and a touch of allspice.

The taste is awesome and so much bigger than I expected with spices and flavor dominating every part of my mouth.  There is grip and oil and complexity in the mouthfeel; it is everything I hoped aged Canadian whiskey could be, but until this point, wasn’t.  The grip is especially surprising, and the finish builds higher to a crescendo before mellowing into a velvety end.

This is a special whiskey.  The finish is epic, the taste phenomenal, it’s just great.  It’s nothing like any of the Wiser’s I’ve ever had before–quite frankly, they were all pretty disappointing.  This has come out of nowhere and crushed the competition.  Well done Canada!  96.5/100.

For a more in depth review, check out Mark Bylok’s piece:

4 New Releases from Barrell Bourbon!

Barrell Craft Spirits remains one of my favorite brands and they continue to put out consistently excellent products at reasonable prices, with good availability and you don’t have to beg, borrow or steal to get them. To me, it’s the best secret left in Bourbon Hunting. I have put a bunch of previous batches away in my bunker because each one is unique and only released once. I was able to grab four new releases at once and thought instead of doing four reviews I’d do one mega review:


Barrell Bourbon New Year 2018: 55.6% ABV and a marriage of barrels from TN, KY, IN, TX and NY. It has an incredibly sweet nose. French toast, Necco wafers, Twizzlers, Butterfigers, yellow flowers, dried cherry pits and creme brule. Almost no heat on nose at all. Wow so easy going down and lots going on. More nuts on the palate than I was getting on the nose and really enjoyable heat in the chest. Solid mouthfeel with the needed oils and tannins following through with a good finish. Really nice special edition. This is the one I’ve had the hardest time finding but if you can get it for a reasonable price, buy two or three. 96/100.

Barrell Rye Batch 002: 5yrs old and 117.5 Proof. I’ve never had a rye distilled in Poland so this is pretty exciting. It is married with an Indiana (MGP?) one which I always enjoy. When I first opened it up the aroma was muted so I waited a few minutes to give it some air. After some time notes of honey suckle, cracked pepper, rock candy and biscotti came through. I decided to wait on this one and try again a week later because I could tell is was still tight–maybe from the plane from Poland?  Easy on the way down with great salted caramel flavor I missed on the nose coupled with strong spiciness.  When I initially opened this rye, it was tight and unforgiving; after a week it’s totally different and the finish goes on for several minutes completely enveloping the tongue. I’ve never had a rye like this before and I’m excited to drink it. I bet that this will continue to evolve in the bottle over the next month or two as I drink it down. 94/100.

Barrell Rum Tale of Two Islands: 8yrs old and bottled at 132.8 Proof. Jamaican pot Still, same source as Batch 001 finished is Islay Scotch casks. I really liked last year’s release: brown sugar, tropical fruits, coconut shavings, white flowers and molasses. This one is very similar to last year but much less heat on the nose. The extra year of aging in the Scotch casks really smoothed this one out even better without the peat taking over. The taste is great, sweet and tropical, and it is shocking how at this proof for a rum the heat is so mellow. The finish goes on for at least two minutes. Great rum and if you liked last year’s release you’ll love this one. I’m hearing it’s very limited release, so buy all that you can. 96/100.

Barrell Bourbon Batch 014: 54.7% ABV and from a blend of KY and TN specially selected barrels of at least 9yrs old. Medium dark amber color. Really nice nutty nose, Jif peanut butter, roasted walnuts, crushed almonds, buttered cinnamon bread and Honey Nut Cheerios. Almost no heat on the nose which is crazy for this Proof.  Solid mouthfeel and good finish. The gentle warmth filters through the chest as the finish elongates. The palate gets hints of salted caramel and nuts on the way down. Another very good release from Barrell Bourbon, readily available and at a reasonable price. I’m buying one to drink now, one for next month and one for the bunker. 95/100.


Barrell Bourbon Batch 014 Review

Orphan Barrel Entrapment

noun: entrapment; plural noun: entrapments
  1. the state of being caught in or as in a trap.
    “the feeling of entrapment grows as the roads close and the power goes out”
    • the action of tricking someone into committing a crime in order to secure their prosecution.
      “his style of investigation constitutes entrapment”


The title of the bottle pretty much tells you everything you need to know… you are basically being tricked into buying this because it has a big 25 on it.  Despite the fact that we know we are being entrapped by Diageo, we still overpay for the bottle anyway… on to the review:

Diageo’s Orphan Barrel Entrapment is the newest release and is a 25yr Canadian Rye from most likely Gimli, but could be Waterloo given they were distilling up to 1992  (Update: I have read online that it is in fact from Gimli).  They had admitted it is Crown Royal and decided to release it in this line instead of a special Crown Royal release or blend it into their normal product.

Extremely light colored. If it were Bourbon I’d guess it was six months old but it’s 25yrs old aged in used wood. The wood is probably so used there is nothing left to be absorbed into the distillate—I doubt the barrels were even reconditioned or recharred.

The nose is classic Canadian Rye, and that’s because it is. It’s Crown Royal and it’s smells just like their low end brand. Vanilla, Christmas tree and candy corn. Doesn’t smell like it’s been aged a lot. Reminds me a lot of older Canadian Club dusties that are easy to find, cheap and enjoyable.

The initial flavor is quite nice, smooth, sweet with vanilla and sugar candy and goes down easily. However there is no friendly heat, the mouthfeel is as thin as it can get and the finish ends before you know it. The taste is enjoyable but not complex.

Unlike some previous Orphan Barrel releases, this is totally drinkable. However it drinks well for a $40 bottle, not a MSRP $150 (I actually paid $199.99 plus tax because that was the only place around me that had it). I have several 70’s and 80’s dusty Canadian Clubs that taste better and I got for significantly cheaper. Prices affect ratings and this one is definitely not one you need to get but if you can find a pour for a reasonable price, maybe worth trying one glass.  DO NOT PAY UP ON SECONDARY FOR THIS! 86/100