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Pemberton Valley Organgic Single Malt Whisky

Review: Pemberton Valley Organic Single Malt Whisky   (86/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted On August 29, 2017

The Pemberton Distillery is located in the heart of the Coast Mountains, an area known for its massive ice caps and pure glacial streams. The Master Distiller, Tyler Schramm, studied a Masters of Science in Brewing & Distilling at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. The distillery first broke onto the scene in August of 2009 with their Schramm Organic Vodka (reviewed here), an authentic sipping vodka produced  from whole organic potatoes (grown just 15 km from the distillery in the Pemberton Valley). This special Vodka is produced using an all natural fermentation process that does not use of chemicals, synthetic anti-foaming agents, or additives. In fact, the distillery boasts that they follow the same traditional methods used by single malt scotch distilleries. They distill in small batches using a hand-operated copper pot still, and the entire distillation is performed by Tyler Schramm, who is continuously testing and sampling the distillate for quality.

All that care and attention which the distillery displayed in producing their organic vodka has also been turned towards their production of Single Malt Whisky. According to the Pemberton Distillery website the spirit is:

” A true West Coast style single malt Whisky. Pot distilled in small batches from organic BC malted barley …”

I was sent a bottle from Cask No. 4 which was distilled in September of 2012, and bottled in April of 2017. The Whisky was matured in an ex bourbon cask and bottled at 44 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 5/5

I really like the bottle presentation for the Pemberton Valley Organic Single Malt Whisky. The bottle is a clear medium tall bottle with wide shoulders which taper slightly to the bottom of the bottle which is has a slightly thickened base for stability. The long neck has a slight bubble which not only gives the bottle a sexier look, it also makes the neck easier to hold for pouring.

Important information about my whisky is given on the label: the Distillation Date (SEPT 2012), the Bottling Date (APRIL 2107), the cask type (Ex-Bourbon), the Cask Number (04), the Bottle Number (243) and the Raw Materials (Certified Organic BC Malted Barley, Coast Mountain Water, and Yeast). We are also told that the whisky is non chill filtered with no colouring added.

The back of the bottle has a brief description of the whisky making process. This is a perfect presentation.

In the Glass 8.5/10

When poured into my glencairn, the whisky displays itself as a pale straw coloured spirit. When I tilt and twirl my glass I see a slightly thickened liquid sheen on the inside which slowly releases a multitude of leglets which turn to slender legs which run back down to the whisky at the bottom of the glass.

The nose is quite different from other Canadian Whiskies. My first impression was of warm buttermilk porridge with firm nutty smells of barley wafting upwards. There is a leather-like impression which reminds me of burlap, and hints of sweetness which seem like graham wafers dipped in cane syrup. This is a young whisky (4 and a half years old), and so I was expecting a firm astringency in the air especially as the spirit is bottled at 44 % abv.. Some light astringent notes are apparent, but these are easily overlooked as the firm barley aroma tempts me into taking my first sip.

In The Mouth 52/60

The Whisky has a lightly buttery mouth feel which I am sure is a result of the double pot still distillation. There is also a bit of a fiery alcohol bite in the delivery which reminds me that the whisky is indeed young and carries 10% more alcohol than a typical Canadian Whisky. I don’t mind the bite (which is easily tempered with a dab of ice in the glass) as along with this heat is a wonderful firm nut-filled (think almonds and hazelnuts) barley flavour. Impregnated into the nutty barley is a mild punky butterscotch, leather, warm wood spice and a ribbon of orange peel. This is very different from what I expected; but the surprise is welcome as I am finding the firm bold flavour of barley both daring and yummy. (The flavour seem more reminiscent of recent Irish Whiskies I have tasted than it does of a Scottish single malt.) As I let the whisky sit, impressions of marzipan form (from the combination of butterscotch and nutty barley), and I also notice a hint of orange liqueur. With ice added, I taste hints of milk chocolate as well. Definately a whisky I like to sip over ice.

I experimented just a little with a few mixed drinks, first adding a splash of ginger ale and then  mixing an Old Fashioned. I could recommend either serving depending upon my mood, (see my old-fashioned recipe below). However, I would not want to dissuade anyone from enjoying the spirit as I have on the rocks in a my favourite whisky glass.

In the Throat 11.5/15

The whisky exits with a rush of spice followed by a soothing candied sweetness and hints of menthol. With an ice-cube added, milk chocolate flavours form in the finish along with a firm taste of marzipan. I am conflicted in my scoring as the rich daring flavour needs to be praised, but I cannot deny that there is a touch too much fire in the exit when served neat. (The brashness of youth and higher than average alcohol content is a mixed blessing.)

The Afterburn 9/10

Although I deducted some marks in the finish because of that fiery heat which the Pemberton Valley Organic Single Malt Whisky shows us in the finish, I must point out that the positives far outweigh the negatives with respect to this dram. I would go so far as to say that this single malt is one of the most exciting new whiskies I have tasted recently, Canadian or otherwise. What separates the Pemberton offering from many of the other new spirits I have sampled is the daring, robust flavour of barley which permeates the dram. Pemberton Distillery is not trying to imitate what others are doing, they are blazing their own trail and to this point, that path is full of the bold nutty flavour of BC Organic Barley.

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

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Serving Recommendation:

Provenance

2 1/2 oz Pemberton Valley Organic Single Malt Whisky
1/2  oz Manitou Orange and Sumac Liqueur (sub quality BC made Orange Liqueur)
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
ice
Ribbon of Orange Peel

Add Ice to a Rocks Glass
Add Manitou Liqueur and Angostura Bitters
Pour the Pemberton Valley Organic Single Malt over the Ice
Stir and garnish with Orange Peel

Enjoy Responsibly!

If  you are interested in more 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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