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Gooderham and Worts Four Grain Whisky

Review: Gooderham and Worts Four Grain  83.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (aka Arctic Wolf)
Published December 07, 2015

Corby Spirit and Wine Limited has added yet another premium brand to its whisky line-up, Gooderham and Worts 4 Grain Canadian Whisky. The whisky pays homage to the former whisky giant, Gooderham and Worts which in the latter half of the 19th century was the largest spirits producer in Canada. (The company was founded in the early to mid-nineteenth century by James Worts and his brother-in-law William Gooderham.)

Gooderham and Worts was merged in 1926 with Hiram Walker & Sons Ltd. (producers of Canadian Club Whisky) by Harry Hatch who at the time owned both companies. Over time, distilling declined at the Gooderham and Worts distillery until 1987 when it was sold to Allied Lyons who chose to close the facility in 1990. The Hiram Walker & Sons Distillery remains in operation, although it now owned by Pernod Ricard. Pernod Ricard incidentally own a major share (about 46 %) of Corby Spirit and Wine Limited who market and distribute Pernod Ricard’s products in Canada.

Gooderham and Worts Four Grain is produced from corn, barley, wheat and rye grains and bottled at 44.4% alcohol by volume.

Gooderham and WortsIn the Bottle 4/5

The bottle presentation for Gooderham and Worts 4 Grain brings us a style which meant to honour the history of the Gooderham and Worts distilling Company. The front of the bottle shows us an illustration of the original Gooderham and Worts Distillery, and if you look at the back of the bottle you will find a bit of the history of the company. A nice touch is the illustration of an old windmill on the back of the bottle. This windmill was first built by John Worts in approximately 1832 on the Toronto waterfront near the mouth of the Don River.

In the Glass 8.5/10

When poured into the glencairn, the whisky shows a dark amber colour well on its way to copper. When I tilt and twirl that glass I see a thickened sheen of whisky the crest of which slowly drops medium small droplets down. There seems to be a stickiness present which may be an indication of added sweetness within the dram.

When I bring the glass to my nose, I receive firm indications of oak and grain spice. Honeyed toffee rises up as well as dank corn smells and a lightly sour fruitiness. If I was to nose this in a blind format, I might be tempted to believe I was nosing an Old Canadian Club whisky from the 70s and early 80s when the brand had a stronger overt sour fruit aroma and taste profile (at least that is how I remember it). There are bits of maple and cedar in the air and some underlying damp leathery tobacco smells.

In the Mouth 50/60

The whisky is sweet, almost cloyingly sweet. Heavy butterscotch and maple syrup flavours are wrapped up within sour fruit and dank corn. This is definitely a throwback to an earlier time when heavy sour fruit flavours were all the rage in Canadian whisky. There is also a very strong oak presence which heats the palate in a satisfying way. Combined with the sweetness of the whisky I am reminded of the honey dipped Graham wafers I would snack on as a kid.

As I sip new flavours emerge, canned apricots, sugared raisins, amber rum, heather and minty menthol. In spite of the rich flavours, the dram remains very sweet, and I feel this overt sweetness (and the sour fruit flavours) are ambushing the other nuances with the whisky. (Thinking it through, I remember feeling exactly the same way about the Canadian Club Whisky of the late 7os.)

I decided to throw in a bunch of ice to help quell the sweetness and then I found the whisky much more enjoyable. It still has an overt maple sweetness; but the dank corn and the sour fruit have been tamed.

In the Throat 12.5/15

I suppose I should be scoring the finish higher as the exit is spicy and robust with long lingering sweet flavours within the peppery oak spices. Unfortunately, I really do not enjoy the flavours in the exit all that much. The sour fruit and the sweetness have become cloying, and a lingering pithy bitterness seems at odds with the sweetness.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

If you like clean, dusty rye forward whisky with oodles of fine oak spice; then this whisky will let you down. The oak is thick and chunky rather than fine, and the sweetness is almost off the charts. And for myself, I can do without the sour fruit. However, if you are a fan of old style Canadian Club Whisky, and yearn for that whisky’s signature robust dank corn and sour fruit, then the Gooderham and Worts Four Grain will be right up your alley. And I believe that this was the intent of the folks at Corby all along. This brand pays homage to a style of whisky from our past, and I believe it has nailed that past style squarely on the nose.

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


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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