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Lot No. 40 Rye Whisky

Review:  Lot No. 40 Rye Whisky   (91/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published December, 2016

Lot No. 40 has received a bit of a makeover recently as the spirit which was previously branded, Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still Canadian Whisky has received a new label, and the whisky is now known simply as Lot No. 40 Rye Whisky.

Lot No. 40 is of course the Corby branded whisky which was first released in the 1990’s as an upscale connoisseur’s whisky for the North American market. Alas, timing is everything, and according to Don Livermore (Master Blender for Corby and J.P. Wiser’s branded whiskies), the whisky never really caught on as the market wasn’t quite ready for such a new style of Canadian Whisky. However, with the new upsurge of interest in Canadian Whisky across North America (and in particular at the premium end of the market), Corby (the owner of the Wiser’s Brand), relaunched the whisky in 2012.

According to the Corby Website:

Lot No. 40 is expertly distilled in small batches using only the finest locally sourced ingredients. By distilling in a single copper pot still, the result is a whisky that starts off earthy and woody tasting and then becomes full bodied and complex with a velvety vanilla oak finish.

Those locally sourced ingredients must include rye grain as the new label tells us:

Lot. No. 40 is crafted in small batches using rye grain in a single copper pot still aged in virgin oak barrels.

The spirit is bottled at 43% alcohol by volume.

lot-no-40-rye-sam_2885In the Bottle 4.5/5

It was a bit of a shock when I saw the most recent bottling of Lot No. 40 Rye Whisky. This is because several important aspects of the spirit which I considered important to the previous marketing campaign seem to be absent from the new label. First and most disappointing is the complete absence of the term ‘Canadian Whisky’ anywhere on the label. Although the Corby website still identifies the spirit as a Canadian Whisky, I am shocked (and as a Canadian, somewhat embarrassed) that Corby appears to be hiding from this fact on the label of its super-premium whisky.

The second feature that surprised me is that the whisky which was released in 2012 highlighted the fact the whisky was produced using D.Michael Booth’s (previous Hiram Walker Master Distiller) recipe which had been developed by his forefather, Joshua Booth. The newly branded whisky ignores this altogether which is perhaps a signal that the whisky’s recipe has (or is about to be) changed.

Finally I notice that the 2012 version of the spirit was labeled “Made With Malted Rye”, whereas the new version of the whisky is labeled as “Made with Pot Still Rye”, which again perhaps signals a recipe change which would feature lass malted rye and more rye grain.

On the second two points, I have no real quibble, recipes change over time and if that has indeed happened then keeping the label current to reflect what is actually in the bottle is a good thing.

However, on the first point I am truly distressed. I am a proud Canadian; I am saddened that Corby does not appear to feel the same way. Hopefully this is just an oversight, and not a signal that Corby wants to distance themselves from the Canadian Whisky Category.

(Another possibility is that the geniuses who administer the rules and regulations pertaining what can and cannot be called Canadian Whisky have ruled that the flavour profile for Lot No. 40 is so different from the norm that the whisky cannot carry the moniker “Canadian Whisky’. You might think I am joking; but that is exactly what happened with Highwood’s White Owl Whisky which, although it is made in Canada, at a Canadian Distillery, from 100% Canadian Grain, aged for 100 % of its time in Canada, and finally bottled in Canada, cannot be labeled as ‘Canadian Whisky’ because its taste profile deviates too far from the standard Canadian Whisky taste profile. Egad!)

In the Glass 9/10

Once poured into the glass the whisky displays a rich amber/copper colour. When I give my glass a light tilt and a slow twirl I notice the whisky seems to have a soft texture that coats the inside of the glass with a somewhat thickened sheen. The initial nose is filled with the scents and smells of milk chocolate and bread crust alongside fresh rye grain and strong oak and cedar scents. Caramel toffee, baking spices (vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon) and more fresh rye pour out of the glass into the breezes. As the glass breathes, the smells of oak and cedar strengthen with firm undertones of leather and burlap revealing themselves. After about 10 minutes, some dusty grain notes begin to climb out of the glass as well.

This smells really good!

In the Mouth 55/60

When I sip the whisky, I seem to find it slightly different from what I remember. While there is ample evidence of pot still rye flavours in the profile of the whisky, it seems to me (and I may be imagining this) that the whisky carries firmer impressions of dusty grain and clean wood spice than it did in the past. I also notice soft buttery impressions of milk chocolate and lovely caramelized bread crust flavours.  The mouth feel seems lighter than before, and the wood and grain spices are finer and slightly sharper than in the past.

Having said that, I think I like this just about as much as before. There is certainly enough complexity with vanilla and baking spices melding into the oak and cedar, as well as those luscious impressions of milk chocolate and caramelized bread crust. The whisky is a stellar sipping spirit, but I could not resist building a nice Canadian Whisky Splash (see recipe below) using just a small splash of ginger ale to mix with those luscious rye flavours.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The whisky carries lightly sweet impressions of toffee and milk chocolate through the exit. My tonsils are smacked somewhat by some rough exit flavours of cedar and oak; fortunately there is just enough sweetness to bring balance and to soothe those tonsils after the light jolt to the throat. Lovely, lightly bitter rye flavours have the last word.

The Afterburn 9/10

Although I postulated that the recipe for this whisky may have changed, I must be honest and say that I am not entirely sure this is the case. As indicated, the spirit tastes just a touch lighter than before with perhaps a bit more grain in the profile versus malted grain. (I would not be surprised if this is merely batch variation.) Even if the recipe has changed I should make one this perfectly clear, Lot No. 40 Rye Whisky tastes absolutely yummy! 

My only disappointment is the absence of the word ‘Canadian’ anywhere on the label. Perhaps in the next iteration of the label this oversight will be corrected.

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:

Lot No. 40 Rye Whisky Splash

2 oz Lot No. 40 Rye Whisky
2 or 3 Large Ice-cubes
Small splash of Ginger-ale
Slice of Lime

Add the Ice-cubes to a rocks glass
Pour the Whisky over the ice
Add a splash of Ginger Ale
Garnish with a lime slice
Enjoy!

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

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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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