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8 Seconds Canadian Whisky

Review: 8 Seconds Blended Canadian Whisky  75.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published March 12, 2013

Image from 8 Seconds website (USED WITH PERMISSION!)

Bikini Bull Riding (Image Courtesy 8 Seconds Whisky)

8 Seconds is a new Canadian Whisky from Frank-Lin Distillers, Products Ltd. who have been a bottler and producer of distilled spirits since Frank Maestri founded the company in 1966. (Frank-Lin currently operates out of their new facility in Fairfield California with annual capacity of over 10 million cases of wines and spirits.)

The 8 Seconds brand is marketed with a direct tie to the western rodeo as it makes its push into the North American marketplace. (In case you are wondering, 8 seconds is the amount of time a cowboy must ride a bucking bull, or a bucking bronco, in the rodeo contest before the bell signals his ride is complete.) The whisky seems to be taking a page from the success of Hood River’s Pendleton (Let er Buck), by building an association with cowboys and the western lifestyle, albeit in a slightly different direction by interjecting some offbeat fun into the equation. To reinforce the association between fun, the rodeo, and their whisky, the company website, reveals the slogan for the 8 Seconds  brand, “Ride em Hard and Drink em Smooth”. (Browse the website and you will come across a photo gallery showing pictures of a 2009 Bikini Bull Riding Event where the contestants appear to be living up to that slogan.)

The whisky itself is a pretty straight forward offering, distilled in Canada and aged in oak. It is (I assume) shipped in bulk from Canada to Frank-Lin’s facility in Fairfield, California for bottling. The whisky has no age statement; but I note that the more premium 8 Seconds Black carries a statement of 8 years. I presume that the less premium 8 Seconds Blended Canadian Whisky would be somewhat younger than that.

Note: The sample was provided by River Valley Beverage Group

8 SecondsIn the Bottle 4/5

The 8 Seconds Whisky arrives in the short squat bottle shown to the left. It is sealed with a nice high density cork which provides that satisfying ‘pop’ when opened. The look is bold and appealing, although that short stubby bottle has a somewhat familiar look to it as does that bull rider logo…

The bottle presentation is fine, although I was hoping for something more original.

In the Glass  8/10

When I pour the whisky into my glencairn glass, the spirit has a nice mahogany hue. When I tilt and twirl that glass, the whisky deposits a thin sheen on the inside of the glass and proceeds to drop slender legs back into the whisky. The initial nose carries a fair amount of vanilla and caramel, as well as some rough and tumble wood and rye spices. I let the glass breathe to see if the scents deepen, and indeed the rye spices seem to grow in strength with perhaps a hint of corn joining in.

This is not overly complex, but it is pleasant.

In the Mouth 45/60

The whisky translates well from nose to mouth with flavours of vanilla and caramel leading out and a peppery wood spice not very far behind. There is a little honeycomb present and some nice impressions of tobacco, dark fruit and chocolate. The whisky carries an astringency which reminds me of those rough and tumble cowboys who ride for 8 seconds on those bucking bulls. I cannot decide whether this roughness is good or bad; so I do not let it affect the score one way or the other.

However, what is affecting the score, is a light but firm ‘mustiness’ that runs through the whisky. It is not pronounced; but there is a vague musty-moldy flavour within the spirit which is out of place. Unfortunately once I noticed it, I could not dismiss it. The must lurks in the currents of whisky flavour spoiling what should have been a good 8 Second ride. Even when I mix a cocktail, that faint musty flavour taints the experience stealing my enjoyment.

In the Throat 11/15

In the finish, the musty flavour is perhaps a little more pronounced, and it seems to give the whisky an odd metallic aftertaste. It is such a pity, as the whisky would be very nice with that particular element absent.

The Afterburn 7.5/10

What would otherwise have been fine whisky, 8 Seconds Blended Canadian Whisky was diminished by an unwanted presence of must. It is not overpowering, but it was present in sufficient quantity that I was reluctant to return to the whisky for a few weeks to complete my tasting sessions. I was even reluctant to review and score the whisky at all, as perhaps I received a sample from a batch that was not consistent with the overall whisky.

However, I decided that the sample I received would be consistent with what is currently in the Alberta  marketplace, and so I decided to carry on. My score of 75.5/100 reflects a whisky which (because of that light mustiness) could not be enjoyed thoroughly as a sipper, and was challenging for me as a mixer.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe:

The Prescott Cocktail

2 oz  8 Seconds Canadian Whisky
1 oz  Grapefruit juice
1 tsp Amaretto


Build on ice in a small rocks glass
Garnish with a wedge of lime or a quarter slice of grapefruit (Optional)


Please Remember…The aim is not to drink more, it is to drink better!

I am always asked what my numbers actually mean. In order to provide clarification, you may (loosely) interpret the scores 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 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.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)



2 Responses to “8 Seconds Canadian Whisky”

  1. Mark said

    Their red circle logo seems to resemble Bacardi’s infamous bat design a little too much.

    • I thought the bottle and the logo were a little too close to the Pendletom ‘Let er Buck’ Whisky presentation myself (A bronc rider rather than a bull rider), but almost the same bottle.

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