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Gibson’s Finest 12 Year Old Whisky

Review: Gibson’s Finest 12 year Old Canadian Whisky  (91.5/100)
a Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on August 28, 2011

Gibson’s Finest Whisky is produced from of two sources: a base grain whisky (which would be a corn-based column still whisky) and a combination of rye based flavouring whiskies which contain rye and malted barley (distilled by a single column still and a pot still). It is bottled at 40 %abv.  When aging their whisky, Gibson’s Finest uses a variety of barrels, ex-bourbon barrels, new oak barrels, etc. The ratio of each barrel-type used can differ from batch to batch because the whisky is blended to a specific taste profile rather than to a specific barrel regimen.

In 2002, the Gibson’s Finest brand was purchased by William Grant & Sons who acquired the brand to strengthen their position in the Canadian spirits marketplace. William Grant & Sons has moved the production of Gibson’s Whisky from the Schenley plant in Valleyfield, Quebec to the Hiram Walker Distillery in Windsor, Ontario.

gibsons-12-sam_2683In the Bottle 4.5/5

As you can see from the bottle shot, the presentation is solid. The squat bottle is a nice change from the taller barroom style bottles which are so prevalent in this category. The label is attractive, and the entire look is solid.

In the Glass 9/10

In the glass the whisky has a golden amber colour which shows me light flashes of orange in the light. A tilt and slow swirl of the glass reveals a lightly oily sheen on the inside which stubbornly gives up droopy leglets that slowly slide down the side of the glass forming long slender legs.

The initial nose from the glass is of honey and fruit filled rye spices, some light butterscotch, and a vague dry oakiness. As the glass breathes, ripened fields of rye grain and corn seem to waft up out of the glass. I can sense the cornstalks and rows of freshly swathed grain. Sawdust, chaff, and then bits of orange peel bring to my nose a sense of dry spiciness that is appealing. As the glass decants the aroma becomes richer, and soon I also sense impressions of canned fruits (peaches, apricots and pears) joining the fray adding some sweetness and even more complexity.

Much later after my sample glass is almost empty, the last few drops of whisky are just oozing caramel and baking spice. Yumm!

In the Mouth 55/60

Fruity rye spice and oaky tannins lead out giving the whisky a spicy-warm mouth feel. I taste hints of tobacco and orange peel which although mildly bitter are also very complimentary to the sweeter caramel and treacle flavours that accompany them. The rye spices are throwing me bits of ginger and cardamom and riding under all of this is a little honeycomb and corn. I am finding the flavour much more complex than I remember from my previous review. It is hard to decide whether the whisky has gotten better, or whether my memory has gotten worse.  (I read my old tasting notes and decided the whisky has improved significantly.)

In the Throat 13.5/15

The finish is mildly dry and mildly sweet in a paradox which features warm rye spices and oak providing the dryness and the sweeter caramel and butterscotch providing the sweetness. A satisfying warmth of cinnamon and ginger keep the back of the throat warm as you reach for another sip. I am noticing a little vanilla which was there all the time but was not identified until the finale.

The Afterburn 9/10

I really enjoyed Gibson’s Finest 12 Year Old Canadian Whisky. It is a classic example of how tasty and smooth our Canadian Whisky can be.

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


Suggested Recipe

The Old Fashioned Cocktail

1 1/2 oz Gibson’s Finest 12-Year-Old Canadian Whisky
1 tsp simple syrup
1 dash bitters
2 large ice cubes
1 twist of lemon or orange peel

Add the first three ingredients to a rocks glass over the ice cubes
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink. (This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink)
Drop the peel into the cocktail if desired.

Please 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)


9 Responses to “Gibson’s Finest 12 Year Old Whisky”

  1. Nathan said

    This, fortunately, was my first foray into whiskey of any kind. I feel very fortunate to have chosen as such, and am delighted that it was rated so highly by you given it’s price point (27 in ontario). I almost picked up canadian club original, and I’m glad that I didn’t. Love your website, I’ve been looking through pages and pages of your reviews. You’ll definately be influencing my next purchase. Cheers.

  2. Neil Cake said


    just thought I’d let you know that I used your site a little while ago for researching whisky purchases on a visit to Canada. I found it very useful; thanks.

    I’ve just written a post about the trip for my blog, and have provided a link to your site, so I thought you’d like to know, in case you wanted to take a look…

    I’ll be adding your address to my links section, as long as you’re ok with that.

    No doubt I’ll be back for more research in the future.


    Neil Cake

    • Welcome to my website Neil!

      I am flattered by the link and the recognition in your posting. Trust me I have no objections to being mentioned on your site or being in your Blog Roll. And I read your posting about Booze tourism in Canada. Nice ramble!

      I shall reciprocate the link the next time I update that section.


  3. I think you meant Valleyfield, not valleyview…

    But gr8 review. Have you tried the 18?


    • Thanks JF, I always appreciate it when typos and errors are pointed out as I do not have a proof reader for my website and some errors such as this one are almost impossible for e to detect. I will make the change in the review, (BTW: Valleyview is a local town in Alberta that I know very well,)

      I have tried the 18 but that particular18 year Old was from about 3 years ago. I am awaiting the arrival of the newest bottlling for my next Gibson’s review. Since I detected some changes for the better in the 12, I am hopeful the same will be true for the 18, which by the way was superb when I tried it 3 years ago.

  4. Carol said

    My son-in-law has been looking for Gibsons Gold Label Whiskey. I’ve been unable to find it in Montana or California. Can you supply me with the cost of the whiskey, shipping and how to order it?

    • I am sorry Carol, but it is not legal in Canada to ship any distilled spirits. And to be honest I have not heard of Gibsons Gold label. You might mean Gibsons Sterling, which sells for about $20 to $25 a bottle in Alberta.

  5. If you think the 12 yrs old is good, you need to try Gibson’s Finest 18 yrs. It is really great. Especially at the price point that it is available.

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