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McGuinness Silk Tassel Canadian Whisky

Review:McGuinness Silk Tassel Canadian Whisky  78/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published on July 22

McGuinness Silk Tassel Canadian Whisky was recently purchased by Sazerac Company, Inc. as part of a strategic investment in the Canadian Whisky marketplace. This brand has been around for a while now, although I believe that it was originally introduced as McGuiness 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 was a hoot).

The brand was changed to 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.)

I was provided with a bottle of the Silk tassel recently by the local distributor, Charton Hobbes, for the purpose of a review upon this website.

In the Bottle 3.5/5

According to Statistics Canada, the standard of living in Canada has increased substantially from 1981 to the present. If this is the case, then why in 1981 (when I purchased this brand for the first time) did my whisky arrived in a nice glass bottle which included that cool ornamental tassel, whereas now it arrives naked (without the tassel) and only in a plastic PET bottle? Certainly the standard of whisky presentation has not kept pace with our supposed standard of living. I normally do not yearn for days gone by; but in this case, bring back the 80s.

In the Glass 8/10

I poured out a small sample of the Silk Tassel into my glass and began with a look at the whisky before I began to nose it. It is a nice golden coloured spirit which is just beginning that transition in colour  from yellow/gold to mahogany. 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 slender legs which moved rather quickly back down into the whisky.

The initial nose from the glass resembles a fruit-filled rye spice with some hints of almond and vanilla. There is a light presence of oak and citrus zest in the background and even a bit of dusty wooden granary and freshly baled straw. A light but firm sharpness prevents me from scoring this section higher.

In the Glass 47/60

The entry into the mouth contains some nice caramel and vanilla flavours which are quickly followed fruity rye and sharp wood spices. Bits of tobacco and almond are present as is a light orange peel zest which also helps to give the whisky a spicy mouth-feel. This sensation builds up with each sip giving the Silk Tassel a bracing quality in the mouth when it is sipped neat. With ice, the Silk Tassel settles down a bit becoming creamier with less sharpness on the palate.

The whisky seems to be begging me to mix it, rather than to sip it, and so I acquiesce, and it is a very good mixer. It takes to ginger-ale like a duck takes to water, and it seems to mix with cola with equal ease. I was less enthusiastic when I mixed an Old Fashioned, but on these hot summer days the Rye and Ginger is my go to deck drink, so I am not really complaining.

In the Throat 11.5/15

The finish is short and somewhat warm on the throat when the whisky is sipped neat. Citrus zest, ginger and wood spices are the order of the day. There is also a touch of caramel at the finish. Mixed in those deck drinks, the soda completely washes away any discomfort.

The Afterburn  8/10

As stated earlier, Sazerac Company, Inc. has recently purchased the Silk Tassel Brand. I hope that part of their Canadian marketing strategy is to bring this particular brand forward again. It seems to me to be a bit of a shame that brands which have great nostalgic appeal seem to be continually related as economy brands to the bottom shelves when their potential is be so much more.

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 McGuinness 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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