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Gibson’s Finest Bold Canadian Whisky

Review: Gibson’s Finest Bold Canadian Whisky  (83.5/100)
a Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on June 06, 2016

Gibson’s Finest recently released a brand new 8-year-old expression in Alberta, Gibson’s Finest Bold Canadian Whisky. What makes it ‘Bold’ is the bottling proof which is a full 46 % alcohol by volume which is a full 6 % more than the 40 % alcohol by volume bottlings which are standard for the Canadian Whisky category. The whisky also features what the media notes call a ‘bold deep colour’. The dark colour or the whisky combined with the higher bottling proof apparently are part of the reason why the producer claims the whisky is ‘specially crafted to deliver Canada’s Finest Rye and Cola’.

Gibson’s Finest Whiskies are produced from of two sources: a base grain whisky (which would be a corn-based column still whisky) and a combination of rye based flavouring whiskies which contain rye and malted barley (distilled by a single column still and a pot still). When aging their whisky, Gibson’s Finest uses a variety of barrels, ex-bourbon barrels, new oak barrels, etc. The ratio of each barrel-type used can differ from batch to batch because the whisky is blended to a specific taste profile rather than to a specific barrel regimen.

Gibson Bold SAM_2610In the Bottle 4.5/5

Gibson’s Bold is sold in the semi-squat 750 ml bottle shown to the left. The front and back label feature a silver and white on black colour scheme which helps the whisky to stand out on the bar shelf. Helping me to grab the bottle are three small ribs on either side of the front label, and sealing the bottle is a wood topped cork. If I wanted to quibble, I would point out that the small round sticker above the label which contains the bottle’s age statement has been placed upon the bottle slightly off-center. It is a little thing, but it speaks to a lack of attention to detail in the bottling process. (That really is a very minor quibble.)

In the Glass 8.5/10

The Bold Whisky displays a deep copper colour similar to the hue of a tarnished penny. When I tilted my glass slowly and gave it a slow twirl, I noticed that the oily sheen of the whisky seemed slightly thickened and the crest which formed was very reluctantly giving up small droplets that ran back to the whisky. The colour seems unnatural to me, the ‘deep bold colour’ is almost certainly caramel enhanced, and the reluctance on the part of the whisky drop legs down the inside of the glass seems to indicate a little added sweetness as well. (The higher alcohol content may also be contributing to the slightly thickened consistency.)

When I bring my nose to the glass, a caramel note is quite obvious and sits out in front of the oak spice and whisky grain. I allowed the glass to breathe and soon noticed a building fruitiness of canned pears and baked apples. As time passes vanilla with a touch of cinnamon emerges and melds into the caramel note which now resembles the smell of baking cinnamon buns.

Scoring the nose is difficult. I am impressed at the absence of any form of astringency which is remarkable for a 46 % alcohol by volume whisky; but it is also my feeling that the obvious caramel note is ambushing the more subtle whisky notes which I normally enjoy.

In the Mouth 50/60

The tasting notes I was given when I received my sample bottle told me to expect a taste which was

“Rich and Sweet with a bold, rich rye character and a spicy mouth feel.”

And that statement is quite accurate. The high bottling proof has concentrated the flavours of the whisky allowing the oak and rye spice to deliver that rich rye character, and as I noted earlier the whisky seems to have been enhanced with both caramel colour and perhaps some sweetness. Vanilla flavours push through as do some nice sappy oak and heated baking spices. Again however, it is my feeling that the lighter nuances of flavour are hidden from view pushed aside the obvious caramel flavour. (I would have loved to have tasted the whisky before the ‘bold deep colour’ was achieved. I suspect I would have encountered an even richer whisky full of the myriad of whisky flavour that I crave.)

Having said that, this particular whisky was intentionally crafted to mix with cola, and by adding caramel to make the whisky more ‘rum-like’ the spirit does indeed take to cola in a big way. I mixed a quick “Finest and Cola” mixing at a ratio of 1:1. It tasted swell, and when I added a few ice cubes and a dash of bitters, the mixture rivaled my favourite rum and cola mixes (see recipe below).

In the Throat 12.5/15

As indicated earlier, the whisky is remarkably smooth considering its high alcohol content. Having said that, a light touch of burn does develop as we sip. Sweet(ish) baking spices are left glowing on the palate and flavours of caramel and cocoa line the back of the throat during the exit.

The Afterburn 8/10

I suspect the Gibson’s Finest Bold will be a wildly successful brand. Most North Americans mix their whisky with soda, and cola is the soda of choice for many of those consumers. And that is exactly how this whisky is meant to be enjoyed. This is not a finely crafted aged whisky for the connoisseur, it is instead a premium mixer for the masses. If Rye and Cola is your thing, then this should be your whisky.

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


Suggested Recipe

Finest Buckeroo SAM_2611The Finest Buckeroo

2 oz Gibson’s Finest Bold Canadian Whisky
2 oz Cola
1 dash Fees Cocktail Bitters
ice cubes
1 Lime Wedge

Add the first three ingredients to a rocks glass over the ice cubes
Garnish with a wedge of Lime

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

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.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)







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