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Last Straw Distillery Stout Whisky (Lot No. SW001)  

Review: Last Straw Distillery Stout Whisky (Lot No. SW001)     (85/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on May 06, 2022

The Last Straw Distillery is Ontario’s smallest production micro-distillery located at 40 Pippin Rd. in Vaughan, Ontario (a wee bit north of Toronto) just off Highway 400 and around the corner from Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre. According to distillery spokesman, Mike Hook, the team at Last Straw Distillery come to the craft of distilling from a variety of different backgrounds, and surprisingly none have had prior experience in the beverage or alcohol business. They are self-taught, and developed their recipes in house, through research, and trial and error, without the use of outside consultants.

Last Straw Distillery’s Stout Whisky is the result of a collaboration between Vaughan’s Lake Wilcox Brewing Co. and the Last Straw Distillery. It can rightly be said that the whisky is the distilled essence of the Lake Wilcox Stout Beer.

According to the distillery website, the spirit is produced in small batches, bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume, is non-chill filtered with no colour added and aged for 3 years aged for 3 years in a #3 char, re-charred ex-wine cask.

In the Bottle 4.5/5

My sample bottle of Last Straw Distillery Stout Whisky is shown to the left. The whisky is presented in a tall clear bottle which showcases the appealing bronze hue of the spirit. The labeling is professional, and represents a positive step up for the distilleries branded products. I especially like the narrow gold stripes  and lettering upon the label which adds class to the presentation, as does the black foil seal over the cork closure. Last Straw has been upping their game in terms of bottle presentation!

In the Glass 8.5/10

Colour: copper/bronze (the re-charred ex-wine cask has imparted a lot of colour)

Legs: Slightly thickened with a touch of sluggishness as they slide down

Nose:  I was surprised when I poured my first small sample of the Stout Whisky into my glass. The nose was much richer and complex than I had anticipated with firm oak and maple notes combined with a real sense of dark chocolate. Graham wafers seem to be present in the breezes as is a touch of wood smoke and hints of raisin.  As the glass sits baking spices (vanilla, allspice, clove and cinnamon) begin to unravel as do subtle hints of treacle.  If I close my eyes, I can almost imagine hints of dark rum in the air as well. This is a very good start!

In The Mouth 51/60

The first sip brings heated oak spices combined with maple and chocolate. There is also a light underlying bitterness which compliments rather than clashes with the implied sweetness of maple. The second sip brings more flavours and nuances forward, graham wafers dipped in maple syrup, vanilla and baking spices, nutty barley and again hints of treacle which remind me of dark rum. There is a light smoky quality which seems to have its roots in the charred ex-wine cask which matured the spirit. The spirit shows refinement and attention to detail.

In The Throat  12.5/15

Last Straw’s Stout Whisky is medium bodied and carries a lengthy finish. After the swallow, oak and baking spice linger and then fade nicely into chocolate with perhaps a touch of espresso coffee hinted at as well.

The Afterburn  8.5/10

When I served as one of the jurors for the 2022 Canadian Whisky Awards, I made a comment to the other judges, that this was the first year where I felt that the offerings from Canada’s small local distilleries competed in a serious way with the traditional whisky spirits from Canada’s large established distilleries. There was a real sense that the Micro-distilleries had finally found their groove.

Last Straw Distillery’s Stout Whisky is a great example of what I was talking about. The Stout Whisky is surprisingly good with robust flavours and a tantalizing balance between the bitterness of stout, and the sweetness of maple and chocolate. If this is an example of the future of Micro-distilled whisky, then count me in as an eager fan of what is to come.

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

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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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