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Lohin McKinnon Wine Barreled Single Malt Whisky

Review: Lohin McKinnon Wine Barreled Single Malt Whisky   (74/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted On April 29, 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 their Lohin Mckinnon Wine Barreled Single Malt Whisky (a collaborative effort between Central City Brewery’s Master Brewer Gary Lohin, and Master Distiller Stuart McKinnon 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.

Lohin McKinnon Wine Barreled Single Malt 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  7/10

The Wine Barreled Single Malt Whisky shows me a rich colour in the glass with a hue that is well on its way past amber heading towards copper. When I tilted and twirled the glass, I saw that the spirit produced thick droplets which turned into moderately thick legs that ran slowly down the inside of the glass.

This is a young spirit produced at 43 % alcohol by volume so the thick legs must be a by-product of the Wine Barrel finish which has added some obvious sweetness to the dram.

My nosing notes from my blind examination (when I had no idea what this was) were as follows:

Legs: thick droplets

Initial Aroma: firm sweetness makes me wonder if this is perhaps flavoured whisky.

Decanted Aroma: maple/butterscotch with oak and grain spice finally settling down to dusty grain

Empty Glass: cough medicine

As you can see there was an obvious of sweetness in the air initially. More typical whisky scents gathered and settled into the breezes when I gave the glass time to breathe. After the tasting session when I sniffed my empty glass, the sweetness from the wine enhancement combined with the herbal tones in the whisky to give me a medicinal impression of cough syrup in the empty glass.

In The Mouth  43.5/60

The wine enhancement has a very strong influence upon the whisky as my blind tasting notes indicate:

Initial Taste: Combination of red licorice, menthol, tobacco, butterscotch and spice

Follow up: Herbal flavours of camphor and resin with almond, burlap and leather

The red licorice flavour almost certainly is a reflection of the wine barrel, and the herbal flavours I encountered are typical flavours from small batch distillation in a craft distillery. Unfortunately, I did not find the combination of flavours worked out that well. I applaud this type of experimentation, but as it is when I experiment with my various cocktail combinations, results vary.

In The Throat  11.5/15

The exit was a little longer and smoother than I would normally expect from a young single malt. It is the added sweetness from the wine enhancement which is responsible for this smoothness. Except for an odd hint of kerosene (probably just an herbal ester from the distillation which confused me) the finish is quite nice.

Body and Length: medium bodied with buttery texture

Flavours during Swallow: hint of kerosene, menthol, resin mixed with butterscotch and almond

Lingering Flavours: menthol and herbal tea

The Afterburn   7.5/10

Here is my final comment that I wrote down after my blind tasting sessions were finished:

Final Thoughts: This is quite a different whisky with red licorice and herbal flavours mixed with menthol. The whisky is sweeter than I would prefer, but the structure under that sweetness shows a lot of promise. 

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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