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Black Velvet Deluxe Deluxe Canadian Whisky

Review: Black Velvet Deluxe Canadian Whisky  78/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
June 5, 2013 (Re-scored and Revised September 2016)

The Black Velvet brand has a long history in North America, originally produced at the Schenley Distillery in Valleyfield, Quebec in the late 1940s. The whisky was initially called Black Label; but because of its perceived smoothness, the producers soon changed the name to Black Velvet. It has been a staple of the Canadian whisky scene ever since and is now produced at the Black Velvet Distillery (also called the Palliser Distillery) in Lethbridge, Alberta.

Black Velvet Deluxe is available both in Canada and in the USA (and apparently in parts of Europe). However, the bottlings for the different markets are not necessarily the same. The whisky available in Canada may actually be slightly older than the whisky available in the foreign markets. The bottle I have reviewed is the one available in my locale (in Alberta, Canada). It does not carry an age statement; but I have been led to believe the whisky in this particular bottle is blended from whiskies which vary in age from 3 to 5 years.

Black Velvet SAM_2642In the Bottle 4/5

As you can see from the picture to the left, Black Velvet Deluxe arrives in a standard, medium tall, bar room style whisky bottle. The labeling and the bottle were recently revamped with some much-needed colour added in the form of red and gold and a crisper cleaner font style. As well a back label has been added which relates some of the brand’s rich heritage. An additional positive change is the slight bulge in the bottom of the bottle which adds stability to the bottle when it sits on my whisky shelf. I had recommended a revamping of the presentation in my 2013 review, and it pleases me that it appears the brand owner was apparently having similar thoughts.

If the whisky could be returned to the black cylinder which formerly housed it, I would be even more happy.

In the Glass 8/10

The Black Velvet whisky displays a mahogany tone with amber hues of orange and yellow. When I tilt and twirl my glass, I see a light sheen has been deposited, which seems to struggle in its effort to lay long skinny legs down the inside of the glass. (Most of the sheen fades away before any legs appear.) The initial aroma carries a mixture of spicy oak, rye, light butterscotch and honey scents into the breezes. I also sense zesty orange and lemon peel which gives the air above the glass a light penetrating astringency.  There is also a mild apple-like fruitiness with bits of vanilla and cinnamon.

As the spirit breathes, the initial sweetness of butterscotch and honey diminishes. Dusty dry impressions grain and wood spice become more dominant. When I inspect my empty sample glass after the tasting session, I receive additional impressions of butterscotch and baking spices combined with a dank fruity “corn whisky’ aroma. The only aspect of the nose which keeps the score from climbing is a light astringency apparent in the breezes.

In the Mouth 46.5/60

The entry into the mouth brings forward strong impressions of citrus peel and dusty dry grain. The whisky is only mildly sweet, yet that sweetness has a penetrating quality which makes sipping uncomfortable. It is hard to be certain, but the whisky tastes younger than it used to be. Perhaps the age of the Canadian bottling of Black Velvet has been brought into line with the American bottling.

Fortunately, as the glass sits, the whisky becomes more approachable with a mild citrus pith bitterness tempering the penetrating sweetness. However, an ice-cube is required to take the astringent bite out of the spirit. When ice is added, I seem to notice more corn flavours in the whisky. Honeycomb cereal and light milk chocolate flavours both seem to grow as the whisky cools.

Since sipping the spirit neat does not appeal strongly to me, I decide to add a little ginger-ale to my glass. The resulting ‘rye and ginger’ is very appealing and I will have no trouble enjoying the Black velvet on my back deck during the warm days of summer.

In the Throat 11.5/15

The finish is dry with a light rush of wood spice and rye with some lightly bitter citrus pith chasing the spice down. The dryness and ebbing spice make the whisky an ideal pairing for soda and long, tall cocktails.

The Afterburn 8/10

Black Velvet Deluxe is a pleasing Canadian whisky. Although I can sip this whisky over ice, the destiny of the whisky is more likely a mixer. Several years ago I designed a refreshing cocktail using Black Velvet Whisky, Yukon Jack and ginger-ale. That cocktail remains my recommended serving (see below).

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


Suggested Cocktail:

Caribou SAM_2435Canadian Caribou
a cocktail by Arctic Wolf

1 1/2 oz Black Velvet Canadian Whisky
1/2  oz Yukon Jack
Splash of Ginger Ale

Fill an Old-fashioned glass with Ice
Add the whisky and Yukon Jack
Complete with a splash of Ginger Ale
Garnish with a lemon Slice

Enjoy Responsibly!

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!


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.


One Response to “Black Velvet Deluxe Deluxe Canadian Whisky”

  1. Ayhan Onay said

    I have been enjoying Black Velvet for many years, then I stopped buying it because of bottles being plastic. It does not taste and feel the same. It looks very cheap , I am embarrassed to serve to a company whiskey in plastic bottle. All my friends who used to enjoy your whiskey have switched to other brands. I strongly urge to go back to glass bottles please.

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