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Adams Private Stock Canadian Whisky

Review: Adams Private Stock Canadian Whisky  80/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published August 09, 2012 (Re-scored September 2016)

I was a little curious about the heritage of Adam’s Private Stock Whisky so I dug into its past a little. When I did, I found a newspaper ad on page 98 of the Ottawa Citizen (dated December 1, 1960), which advertised Adam’s Private Stock Whisky. The ad says (in part),

” … Years ago Adams distilled 29 great whiskies, each with its own distinctive characteristics, and then aged them in special oak casks. Now Adams has married these 29 rare whiskies to create the superb flavour of Adams Private Stock. This custom blend is presented in its crystal decanter at a popular price…”

That ad is the earliest trace that I can find of the existence of Adams Private Stock Whisky. It was apparently produced by Thomas Adams Distilling Ltd. of Toronto Ontario. Things change of course, and according to the label on both of my bottles (see picture below), the whisky is now imported into the USA and bottled by White Rock Distilleries. Of course, I have no idea whether Adam’s Private Stock is still blended from 29 rare whiskies. I just know that this whisky is getting harder and harder to find. And that’s a pity, because I have fond memories of the Private Stock Whisky which stretch back over 30 years when I received one of my first ever bottles of whisky. I was never a regular consumer of the Adams, because even back then, it was hard to find.

Sadly this whisky is going to be even harder to find in my locale as I have noticed that it has been discontinued from the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Control website. However, recently, I decided to go into my private collection and pull out one of my last remaining bottles of the Private Stock Whisky to put it through the paces of my review system. It was a bit of a nostalgic experience for me, hopefully it will be a useful review for some of you.

In the Bottle 4/5

That original ad I found for Adams Private Stock spoke of a crystal decanter which housed the whisky. I guess things changed over the years as the whisky, in my most recent purchases, has been housed in a less austere dwelling. The look is okay, but certainly not inspiring. Something tells me that if Adams had stayed the course on the high ground, it might be more common in today’s liquor stores.

In the Glass 8.5/10

The Whisky has a nice amber colour and an even nicer rye filled nose. Fruit-filled with spicy ginger and cloves, the initial aroma is  augmented by some sweeter butterscotch and caramel that drift upwards. There are some initial light hints of astringency, but as the glass breathes there are also some welcome scents of marmalade and marzipan mingling with some slightly fermented sour notes of green apple. Accents of corn, a little oak and sandalwood, and a little more than a touch of vanilla round things out, and so far my little jaunt into the past is going very well.

In the Mouth 48/60

In all the times that I have had occasion to open a bottle of the Private Stock, I do not believe I ever sipped it neat until now. I am finding that the whisky puts its own spin on the Canadian Whisky category. The flavour while staying true to the traditional Canadian rye-whisky taste profile has a certain lightly sour, lightly fermented quality that is hard to describe. I taste old-fashioned bread and butter pickles underneath the more normal rye spices and the butterscotch/caramel flavours of the whisky. Now that I taste them, I smell them too. Some apple juice and the syrup from canned apricots work their way into my consciousness too along with a few hints of dark plums. I find this all very interesting; but to be honest, the Private Stock Whisky is not really all that sippable because of a light harshness that accompanies the whisky flavour.

The whisky is however, very mixable. It hard for me to ascertain how much of my enjoyment when mixing a tall rye and ginger-ale is due to nostalgia and how much is due to great flavour, but I did notice when I had a few friends over that I wasn’t the only one denting the fill line on the Private Stock.

In the Throat   11.5/15

Sweet and sour rye spices followed by a nice punky butterscotch and caramel. The spicy heat left upon the palate might be interpreted as rough by some, but, for me all is well (in a good mixable Canadian Whisky sort of way).

The Afterburn 8/10

Like many of the economy whisky brands in Canada, the Adams Private Stock is not meant for sipping neat by the fireplace. It is meant for the long tall cocktail, preferably with lots of ice. In this realm the whisky does just fine. I prefer to mix my Canadian rye with ginger-ale, but cola works equally well for many of my friends. This is a good mixer with lots of interesting flavour that pushes through the soda and into your bar drink. I like it, and for me, it is regrettable that this whisky will be much harder to find soon.

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


Suggested Recipe

A Fizz is a highball style cocktail using a base spirit and a little acidic juice (usually lemon or lime) shaken over ice, lengthened by the addition of sparkling water after straining.  Depending upon the recipe, a flavouring spirit can be added and/or sugar to sweeten. I hit upon the idea of using Orangina instead of sparkling water to lengthen the cocktail, and the Double Diamond Fizz was born.

Double Diamond Fizz

1 1/2 oz Adams Private Stock Canadian Whisky
1/4  oz Curacao
juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
1/2 tsp sugar syrup

2 oz sparkling orange water (Orangina)

Shake the first four ingredients with ice in a metal shaker until frosted
Strain into a glass tumbler
Add ice-cubes
Complete with Orangina

I have found this recipe works very well for any light bodied whisky.

And Remember, the aim of my blog is not to help you drink more…it is to help you drink better!


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.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)


One Response to “Adams Private Stock Canadian Whisky”

  1. Eric said

    My grandfather use to drink Private Stock and I’ve been trying to get my hands on a bottle for awhile now, good to see some people still value canadian “rye”, let me know if a bottle is available!!! Cheers!!!

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