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Black Velvet Deluxe

Review: Black Velvet Deluxe Canadian Whisky  82/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
June 5, 2013

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 told the whisky in this particular bottle is about 4 to 6 years old.

Black VeIn the Bottle 3.5/5

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 label and the bottle have not changed for several years, and could probably benefit from a bit of a revamping. This whisky has a rich heritage in North America, and perhaps some of that history could be more evident in the packaging. I would love to see a return to the black cardboard cylinder which used to house the whisky.

In the Glass 8/10

The whisky displays a nice rich mahogany tone with hues of red 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. The initial aroma seems to carry a bit of spicy oak and rye scents into the breezes. Alongside are some mildly sweet butterscotch and honey impressions, and hints of zesty orange and lemon peel. I also receive a sense of lightly sour apple juice, and hints of dark dry fruit. As we let the glass breathe, vanilla and cinnamon seem to separate from the honey and the oak, and the dusty dry rye scents assert themselves into the air above the glass.

When I smell my 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 50/60

The entry into the mouth brings forward that same impression of a whisky with a strong dusty dry rye character which is  lightly sweet, and lightly fruity. I taste butterscotch at the front end which is followed quickly by citrus fruit (orange peel and lemon zest) and light vanillins. Then the clean rye spices begin to assert themselves across my palate. The spiciness seems to increase as I sip. Some light earthy flavours of dry fruit, a touch of marzipan, and hints of nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon round out the whisky’s flavour, but make no mistake, it is clean rye spice which is the centerpiece of the whisky.

I taste good balance between the different aspects of flavour, and I find Black Velvet to be a pleasant (albeit uncomplicated) whisky.

In the Throat 12.5/15

The finish brings fading flavours of butterscotch and a light rush of spicy rye and pepper which gives the exit a crisp dryness. This spicy dryness hints at how well the Black Velvet Whisky will work in a cocktail or highball drink. To that end I mixed a standard rye and ginger-ale cocktail (aka a Horse’s Neck), and ventured out onto my deck to enjoy the afternoon sunshine. This whisky is a perfect pairing for ginger-ale.

The Afterburn 8/10

Black Velvet Deluxe is a pleasing Canadian rye whisky. Although the blend is predominantly corn (or so I am told), it is not the corn; but rather it is pleasingly dry rye flavours which have been brought forward by blending. This means that a bottle of Black Velvet whisky is always a welcome sight on my back deck when the sun is shining and my mood is mellow.

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


Suggested Cocktail:

Canadian CaribouCanadian 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!


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)

One Response to “Black Velvet Deluxe”

  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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