Chinook Signature White Whisky
Review: Chinook Signature White Whisky 83/100
a review by Chip Dykstra(AKA Arctic Wolf)
Published June 03, 2014
The folks at MCBSW Sales in Calgary Alberta have recently expanded their Chinook Whisky line-up to include two new Signature Whiskies, the previously reviewed Chinook Signature Rye Whisky (click on the link to read the review) and a new ‘white whisky’, which is the subject of this review, the Limited Edition Chinook Signature White Whisky.
I was told by the agent responsible for the brand here in Alberta that both Chinook Signature whiskies are produced and aged in Southern Alberta from Western Canadian Prairie grain. The Signature White in addition to being aged for the minimum 3 years required by Canadian Law is additionally filtered clear to provide a mild flavoured whisky suitable as an alternate to vodka for mixing quality cocktails. Interestingly, the words “Canadian Whisky” do not appear anywhere on the label of the bottle I received. Whether this was done intentionally or whether this was an oversight is not known; however this does leave the door open for the brand owners to move production of the whisky south of the border to their own distillery in Wisconsin at some point in the future.
I was provided a bottle of the Chinook Signature White Whisky by the Alberta agent for MCBSW Sales for the purpose of this review on my website.
In The Bottle 4/5
To the left is the Chinook Signature White Whisky bottle presentation. The bottle has the same general shape and frosted glass as Canada’s other White Whisky (White Owl Whisky) click on the link to read my review written four years ago. I suspect this design was chosen because the producers are aware that consumers who are familiar with White Owl Whisky will be looking for this bottle design, and they are hoping that those consumers stumble upon their whisky as well.
I like these frosted designs, and I like the solid cork topper. The blue lettering looks good on the frosted bottle and if not for a few quibbles I would award a better score. The first quibble is that the bottle design is too much like the design for the aforementioned White Owl Whisky. I would prefer a little more originality rather than a design which I feel is pretty much an imitation of the brand this whisky is hoping to supplant. The second quibble is that the bottle itself seems to be of low quality. There are odd smudges and speckles of colour on the exterior of the bottle which appear to be rubbed off the label and tiny bubbles within the glass which shouldn’t be there. Unfortunately these exterior blemishes diminish my perception of the brand.
In the Glass 8.5/10
When poured, the whisky displays itself as a perfectly clear spirit which brings light subdued aromas into the breezes above the glass. When the glass is tilted and given a slow twirl, I see that the liquid sheen and crest which forms inside the glass is slightly thicker than I expected. This crest holds back for a few seconds, and then releases droplets of whisky which crawl at a moderate pace back to the bottom of the glass. What I am witnessing is probably the result of the minimum three years of aging which the spirit has undergone. The oak barrels have imparted some of their goodness into the spirit, and not all of this goodness has been filtered away.
The aromas in the breezes above the glass are very subtle, and it would be easy to mistake this whisky for a white rum rather than a grain based spirit. I sense a mellow butterscotch scent which carries hints of honey and cotton candy, and light influences of sandalwood, orange peel zest and vanilla. There are also a few floral tones in the air which remind me of heather and lilac, and some vague hints of mint and licorice.
So far everything is very nice, and I am quite impressed with the nose of the white whisky.
In the Mouth 50/60
When I take the first sip, my palate is greeted with a zesty spiciness which carries impressions of orange peel, coriander, sandalwood and ginger. Underneath this spice is some nice soft butterscotch sweetness and a touch of soothing mint. Other vague slippery flavours come forward and then hide themselves before I can properly identify them; some lemongrass, perhaps a bit of banana peel and maybe a touch of heather.
Because the Chinook Signature White Whisky is meant as a quality mixer to replace (and to add more character than) vodka and white rum to my cocktails, I decided to try a few typical white rum cocktails to see how the whisky stood up. The first cocktail I built was a White Whisky daiquiri (see recipe below). The resulting mixed drink was very nice with a refreshing tartness that I appreciated. (This tartness is a good indication that sugar has not been added to the spirit as is often the case with vodka or white rum.) Then I decided to see if this whisky was equally adept at replacing white rum in a mojito, and the resulting White Whisky Mojito (see recipe below) was just as nice. I found myself bumping up the score to recognize just how nice of a mixer the Chinook Signature White Whisky is.
In the Throat 12/15
The finish is, as one would expect, crisp and short with the spiciness of coriander and ginger heating the palate more and more with each sip. There is also a very surprising note of cocoa which finds itself intertwined within that spice. Alas, the white whisky is perhaps just a touch too rough to sip comfortably; but if you want to accentuate that cocoa note, a cube of ice really brings it forward.
The Afterburn 8.5/10
I sampled the Chinook Signature White Whisky several times before I wrote my review. Each time, when I poured myself a small glass and then mixed a small cocktail, I found I appreciated the spirit just a little more. There are nuances and subtleties within the spirit which are easily missed if one is not paying attention. Although I could not warm up to the spirit as a sipping whisky, I did find that as a mixer, it performed admirably especially in cocktails designed for white rum or vodka. Although I did not mention it earlier, the whisky not only makes a great mojito and daiquiri, it worked great in vodka recipes like the Cosmopolitan, and Screwdriver.
My Score of 83/100 recognizes that this white spirit is a great cocktail mixer which add a different style of character than white rum or vodka.
You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
White Whisky Daiquiri
1 3/4 oz Chinook Signature White Whisky
3/4 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1/2 oz Sugar Syrup
Slice of Lime for Garnish (optional)
Combine the first three ingredients into a metal shaker with ice.
Shake until the metal shaker chills.
Strain into a chilled glass.
Garnish with the lime slice if desired
And of course enjoy!
White Whisky Mojito
1 3/4 oz Chinook Signature White Whisky
Large Ice Cubes
1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
3/8 oz Simple Syrup
2 oz sparkling water (or Club soda)
Rub a few mint Leaves together to bruise them
Add them to the bottom of a tall glass
Fill with large Ice Cubes
Add the White Whisky, the Lime Juice and the Sugar Syrup
Fill with Sparkling Water or Club Soda
Garnish with a sprig of mint
Note: If you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!
As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)