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Silk Tassel Canadian Whisky

Review: Silk Tassel Canadian Whisky  77/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published September 19,  2016

Silk Tassel Canadian Whisky (owned by Sazerac Company, Inc.) has recently received a minor facelift and brand change. The brand dropped the name McGuinness from the label and made a slight change in colour on the bottle label. This brand has been around for quite  some time and in fact I believe that whisky was originally introduced as McGuinness Gold Tassel in the late 1960’s or perhaps the early 70’s. I remember the brand being quite popular in my youth. Young aficionados of the brand would collect the gold tassels that decorated the bottle and hang them like trophies from the rear view mirrors of their pick-up trucks. (As you can tell, growing up in rural Alberta in the late 70s and early 80s was a hoot.)

The brand was changed to McGuinness Silk Tassel many years ago, although there may have been a brief period when both a Silk Tassel and a Gold Tassel Whisky were available. (Just think of the decorating possibilities for those rear view mirrors.) Recently the brand dropped McGuiness from the label and is now branded simply as Silk Tassel Canadian Whisky.

Silk Tassel SAM_2617In the Bottle 3/5

The new brand identification for Silk Tassel seems to be a half-hearted affair. The whisky is still only available in a plastic PET bottle in my locale, and the colour on the label which was previously a nice vibrant blue (see photo in recipe section) is now a bit of a drab affair. I would not be inspired to buy the whisky in a retail setting, and I openly wonder if Sazerac actually even cares about the brand they acquired not all that long ago.

Note: The spirit is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

In the Glass 8/10

I poured out a small sample of the Silk Tassel into my glass The Spirit is an amber coloured spirit which has just began that transition in colour  from amber to copper. I gave my glass a tilt and a slow swirl and discovered an oily sheen on the inside of my glass which gave up a few medium-sized droplets which slowly formed small legs which ambled back into the whisky. Based upon my notes thus far the whisky appears just a little darker and a little more full-bodied than a few years ago.

The initial nose from the glass brings firm impressions of both rye and fine wood spice into the air along with hints of butterscotch and vanilla. There is a bit of astringency in the form of sharp orange peel zest which seem to tickle the nostrils just a little more than they like being tickled. As the glass breathes there is a nice welling up of dusty grain and dry hay and a light bitterness which reminds me of burlap and citrus pith. All in all the whisky seems pleasant, albeit quite young and brash at same time.

In the Glass 47/60

The entry into the mouth was smoother than I suspected it would be. Dry somewhat bitter rye grain leads out complemented by light butterscotch and vanilla flavours and heated wood spice. Bits of dry grass and fine tobacco are present as is a firm orange peel zest which also adds to the spicy mouth-feel of the whisky. The whisky becomes more brash and spicier with each sip. As well a penetrating sweetness has manifested itself. Despite the initial smoothness, sipping is not the preferred destiny of the Silk Tassel Whisky.

I noted a few years ago when I reviewed the spirit as McGuinness Silk Tassel that the whisky takes to ginger-ale like a duck takes to water, and it also mixes with cola with equal ease. This is still the case however, I was not really tempted to try more refined servings as there just doesn’t seem to be enough depth of flavour here to mix an Old-Fashioned or a Manhattan. I still however recommend the highball serving I created several years ago which mixes the Silk Tassel with Orange Mango soda (see recipe below).

In the Throat 11.5/15

The finish is short, and I notice a moderate burn when the whisky is sipped neat. Rye spice, orange peel,  and heated wood spices glow upon the palate just a little too forcefully. A touch more sweetness would be welcome.  Of course these detrimental features completely disappear in soda filled mixed drinks.

The Afterburn  7.5/10

As implied earlier, Sazerac Company, Inc. has recently purchased the Silk Tassel Brand. unfortunately it seems as though the company has no plans to revive the brand in any sort of meaningful way. The whisky is an economical mixer at this point, and not anything more, pity.

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


Suggested Recipe

Icy Breeze
a recipe by Arctic Wolf

2 oz Silk Tassel Canadian Whisky
3/4 oz Grapefruit juice
3/4 oz Orange Mango Soda
1/2 oz Triple Sec
1/2 oz Sugar Syrup

3-5  large cubes of ice

Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth
Serve in a cocktail glass
Garnish with a wedge of grapefruit if desired

Please enjoy this whisky and the suggested cocktail responsibly. Remember the aim of my blog is to help you drink better.. not to help you drink more!


I am sometimes 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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