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Last Mountain Single Cask Rye

Review: Last Mountain Single Cask Rye Whisky   (79.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on October 9, 2020

The Last Mountain Distillery is Saskatchewan’s original micro distillery. It is owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Colin and Meredith Schmidt. Colin Schmidt took a rather round about road into the distilling business as his original dream was to play pro hockey. He was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in 1992 and signed his first pro contract in 1996. Unfortunately Colin’s pro hockey experience was brief, cut off by a few shoulder injuries after a brief stint with the big club playing what Colin referred to as “left bench”.

According to the Last Mountain Distillery website their Single Cask Rye is made with locally sourced Rye grain (not malted). The Rye is matured a short time in  new 10-gallon barrels (presumably to oak the spirit more quickly) and then it is placed in used bourbon barrels for 3 – 4 years. Single Barrels are selected for bottling without being chill filtered.

The bottle I am reviewing is from the cask labeled 14-10-05 and it was bottled at 42.5 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle  4.5/5

Last Mountain’s Single Cask Wheat Whisky arrives in tubby whisky bottle shown to the left. The label appears to have the grain type (Rye) written in by hand as well as the cask number and bottling strength. This adds an impression of craftsmanship as each bottle appears to be labelled individually.

My only quibble is with the clear plastic covering on the cork topper. I would prefer if this plastic seal were made from a solid colour which I think would accent the display in a positive manner.

In the Glass 8/10

The whisky shows itself with a pale straw coloured hue in the glass which hints to me that no caramel was added. The hue we are seeing is the true colour of the whisky. When I bring the glass to my nose, I sense just a touch of astringency which is accompanied by a hint of vegetal aroma which is perhaps an indication of a distillation cut which is just a little wider than a spirit of this age should have. Fortunately these two factors seem to disappear as I let the whisky breathe.

As the spirit breathes, I notice a nice combination of butterscotch, caramel, vanilla and fine oak spice drifting into the breezes. I notice scents of almond and leather in the air with hints of baking spices including some ginger, bits of cinnamon and perhaps a smidgen of nutmeg. Citrus notes are apparent as well in the form of orange peel zest. Over time to breathe and impressions of marzipan appear and a growing impression of spicy rye grain.

In The Mouth 47.5/60

The first sip brings a little more heat than the nose suggested. There is a bit of alcohol bite, and a firm presence of citrus zest heating the tongue. I also notice again a hint of vegetal roughness.

I do like the overall flavour. Although the spirit is heated, the bitterness of the rye grain combined with the spicy oak and citrus zest puckers the palate which actually makes me receptive to another sip. There is a mild sweetness of butterscotch and vanilla which counter-balances the spice. Hints of baking spice meander into my consciousness with impressions of almond and vanilla as well. When I add ice, the rye grain pops in my mouth, and I found myself bringing the score up just a little.

The spirit is probably much better suited to mixing highballs and cocktails than it is too sipping, and I have shared a suggested recipe below.

In the Throat 11.5/15

The Single Cask Rye whisky is light to medium bodied. The dry mid length finish is heated featuring fine oak and rye spice that puckers the throat and drys the mouth. We taste some lingering butterscotch and vanilla as well as a few tiny pockets of cinnamon.

The Afterburn 8.0/10

Last Mountain Single Cask Rye Whisky is a robust rye whisky which showcases the dry spicy appeal of the prairie rye grain. Although the spirit brings some heat through the initial delivery, the firm rye grain flavours which come through alongside this heat gives the spirit character and surprising depth for a 3 to 4 year old whisky. I found sipping the spirit over ice pleasant, however I would suggest that cocktails would be a a more regular destiny for the remainder of my sample bottle.

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

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Suggested Recipe:

The Rough Rider

2 oz Rye Whiskey (Last Mountain Single Cask Rye Whisky)
1/2 oz Orange Liqueur (Bols Triple Sec)
1/3 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/3 oz Lemon Juice
2 dashes of Bitters (Angostura Cocktail Bitters)
dash Sugar Syrup
Ice

Add the ingredients into a metal shaker with plenty of ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into a cocktail glass

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

And if  you are interested in more recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for my mixed drink recipes!

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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)

 
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