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Lohin McKinnon Barley & Rye (Lightly Peated)

Review: Lohin McKinnon Barley & Rye (Lightly Peated)   (77/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted On July 25, 2018

Central City Brewers + Distillers is a small craft producer of beer and spirits. They began business as a brewpub in downtown Surrey (British Columbia), where they created their Red Racer craft beer. After this initial  success they turned their attention to spirits using Canadian Barley to produce their whisky and Rocky Mountain Berries to produce their gin.

According to the company’s website:

We craft our premium spirits on 3 state-of-the-art Holstein Stills, manufactured in Germany on 3 different sizes: 2500 litre, 1250 Litre and 500 litre, to allow greater versatility. All fitted with reflux columns and one with up to 20 plates, this Stills are capable of producing up to 90% ABV and can produce almost any spirit our distiller can imagine.

I sampled Lohin McKinnon Barley & Rye (Lightly Peated) as part of my judging duties for the 2018 Canadian Whisky Awards. I kept brief notes for each of the spirits which I tasted, and after the reveal, I decided to pen a brief review based upon those tasting notes, as well as from a small tasting sample I was able to obtain afterwards. The whisky is bottled at 43 % alcohol by volume.

In The Bottle  4.5/5

The Lohin Mckinnon Whisky bottle is shown to the left. It’s a medium tall bottle with a bubbled neck for easy grabbing. The spirit is sealed with a synthetic cork stopper and features a professional label with an easy to read colour scheme. The bottle and label give me confidence that the spirit inside was crafted with the same professionalism.

In the Glass 8/10

Colour:  gold and black dust

Legs:  Thickish sheen with medium droplets

Initial Aroma:  herbal with menthol, licorice and sweet and sour fruit

Decanted Aroma:  light oak spice, butterscotch hint of sour pudding, and almond underneath

Empty Glass:   dusty grain and chaff

My brief nosing notes from the 2018 Canadian Whisky Awards are shown above. Interestingly, The light peatiness of the dram wasn’t readily apparent in the breezes when I nosed the whisky side by side with the other spirits I was judging. Afterwards though, when I had time to assess the spirit in isolation, I was able to catch light hints of herbal peat in the breezes.

In The Mouth 46.5/60

Alcohol push and Spice:  mostly grain spice with light alcohol push

Initial Taste: vanilla/butterscotch quickly turning towards herbal flavours of sawgrass, willow, camphor and licorice beside a light peated whisky

Follow up:  doesn’t change much perhaps a little green grape and tart apple

I had an impression of youth when I sampled the whisky the first time especially as I did not really taste much impact from oak barrels. This feeling continued to be reinforced throughout my blind sampling sessions. (It turns out the whisky is about 4 years old.) Although the dram is somewhat under developed because of this youth, I was happy to note that there was only a light alcohol push which was welcome.

In The Throat: 11.5/15

Body and Length:  Light bodied with a lightly buttery texture which adds some length

Flavours  during Swallow:  Herbs and floral flavours in finish

Lingering Flavours: menthol, fennel , licorice, and dry spice

The Afterburn 7.5/10

I wrote down this comment after my judging was complete for this dram.

Final Thoughts: An herbal whisky, which reminds me of a young VS cognac. Interesting but needs to be developed more in oak to reach its full potential

The youth of the whisky was a theme throughout my tasting sessions; however, my comparison to a young VS cognac is meant as a compliment as this speaks to the spirit’s relative complexity.

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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