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Chinook Canadian Whisky

Review: Chinook Canadian Whisky  (86/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on August 7, 2011

Chinook Canadian Whisky is produced by Alberta Distillers Limited (ADL) in Calgary, Alberta. I do not know much about this whisky. It appears to be a relatively new brand on the Canadian Whisky landscape. The bottle tells me it is a five-year old Canadian Whisky bottled at 40 per cent alcohol by volume, and I received the bottle for review from Ravinder Minhas, of Mcbsw Sales Company Inc. who is the distributor of this spirit  where I live.

In the Bottle 4/5

The Chinook Whisky bottle is pictured to the right and as you can see the whisky arrives in the standard tall, bar room style which is made to fit easily on the bartender’s shelf. My only quibble is that I would like to see a better colour scheme on the label than the gold lettering on beige which is hard to read. The name of the whisky, ‘Chinook’ stands out very clearly in red, but again the colour scheme just doesn’t seem quite right for me.

I am happy to see a plastic screw cap instead of the metal enclosure as I have a great disdain for those metal caps which leak easily and do not provide a consistent seal.

In the Glass 8.5/10

I poured out a small sample of the Chinook into my glencairn glass and began my review with a good look at the whisky before I began to nose it. It is a golden straw coloured spirit which consistent with a whisky which has spent five years in oak barrels. I gave my glass a tilt and a slow swirl and discovered a light sheen on the inside of the glass which gave up slender legs which ran back down into the whisky.  Again this is consistent with my expectations and I am happy with my observations.

The nose from the glass is a pure expression of dusty dry Canadian rye whisky. There are a few hints of oak and vanilla but the rye is first and foremost. It is almost as if you can smell the field of ripened grain right there in the glass. I even smell bits of straw and chaff as if the autumn harvest has just begun. The only drawback is a light astringency which rises into the air just after you pour your glass. It diminishes over time but does not disappear completely.  In spite of that light astringency I find this expression of dusty rye much to my liking.

In the Mouth 52.5/60

This is not a sweet fruity whisky full of caramel and baking spices. Nor is this a silky smooth whisky that caresses your palate with vanilla and honey. This is an old-fashioned rye whisky, light on the sweetness and heavy on the rye grain. That dusty dry rye nose has translated very well onto the palate giving the spirit a lively mouth-feel full of rye spice and grain. The impression of dryness is persistent as the whisky displays very little sweetness in the mouth. Instead we taste ginger, hints of citrus zest, light oak spices, even lighter vanilla and of course lots of rye. I am a huge fan of rye whisky, and I like this a lot.

In the Throat 12.5/15

The finish is relatively short but it is also crisp and clean. That bit of astringency I noted on the nose is there in the finish making things just a little rough; but then again a good rye whisky ought to tickle the tonsils on the way down just to remind you that it is rye whisky.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

I have no idea of what the mash bill is for this whisky, but the aroma. the flavour and the finish all give me a strong indication that rye,  first and foremost is what this whisky is about. Alberta Distillers in Calgary are the producers of more rye whisky than anyone else in North America, so these characteristics do not surprise me. What surprised me about the whisky was just how dry and clean the rye flavour was. This is a crisp, clean, dusty dry rye whisky, and since I am a fan of rye whisky; I am a fan of the Chinook Whisky.

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


Suggested Recipe:

It’s hard for me to suggest a cocktail for a good rye whisky without using ginger-ale in the mix. And the fact is that Chinook Canadian Whisky works great with ginger-ale and a bit of ice. However I thought that a nice ‘cooler’ recipe would work just as well (and I was right).

 Canadian Cooler

2 oz Chinook Canadian Whisky
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
dash of bitters
1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Ginger Ale

Pour the whisky, the lemon and lime juice, and the simple syrup into a metal shaker
Add a dash of bitters
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts.
Strain into an ice-filled glass.
Top with Ginger-ale
If desired garnish with a slice of lemon or lime


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)

3 Responses to “Chinook Canadian Whisky”

  1. Chinookappalooza said

    I love chinook with a little bit of citrus

  2. Mike said

    Interesting, never heard of this stuff. I wonder how it compares to Alberta Distiller’s other 5 year old whisky.

    • My initial thought when I sampled the Chinook was that it would be very similar to the Alberta Premium (5 Year). There are similarities but I have found the Chinook dryer and with less sweetness. (I hope to be doing a review of the AP very soon so then you will have a direct comparison)

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