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Rich & Rare Reserve Canadian Whisky (Sazerac)

Review: Rich & Rare Reserve Canadian Whisky  84.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted January 15, 2013

According to the Sazerac website, their company is a direct result of the famous cocktail which bears the same name. It began in 1938 when Antoine Peychaud created a special drink for his guests to enjoy in the evenings at his apothecary in the French Quarter’s Royal Street. He would mix brandy, absinthe and a dash of his secret bitters for his guests. This special drink became quite popular and began to appear in the various coffee house’ establishments in New Orleans. One such establishment, the Sazerac Coffee House became so popular serving their version of the drink (made with Sazerac de Forge et Fils Brandy) that it became known as the Sazerac Cocktail.

In 1869, Thomas H. Handy purchased the Sazerac Coffeehouse, and by the 1890′s the coffee-house and its growing business interests had become chartered as the Sazerac Company. Although, the company is based in New Orleans, its holdings include many of  North America’s most popular distilling companies, the Buffalo Trace Distillery, A. Smith Bowman, the Glenmore Distillery, and more.

The Sazerac website also tells me that their Rich & Rare Reserve Canadian Whisky is distilled in Canada and then aged patiently in hand-picked oak barrels. It is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume. This brand is not available (as far as I know) in Canada, rather it is a brand produced exclusively for the American market.

sam_2654In the Bottle 4/5

The Rich & Rare Reserve arrives in more than one bottle configuration. The bottle I am familiar with is shown to the left. Although I like the look the bottle which seems to imply substance and character, I do feel it is perhaps too similar to the style of bottle used by Crown Royal for their Reserve Whisky. The R&R logo is problematic as well as Corbys Royal Reserve uses a similar logo. I feel a more original bottle design and logo for this whisky would lead to less confusion between the brands.

In the Glass 8.5/10

The whisky displays a nice amber colour in the glass, and when I tilt and twirl that glass I see that the whisky leaves a thickish sheen on the inside of my glencairn. The crest at the top is stubborn at first; but it soon releases a multitude of medium thick legs down the inside. I smell corn, butterscotch and a sweet sticky marmalade when I bring my nose to the glass. As that glass breathes, scents of oak and cedar rise as well and some spicy rye and citrus zest. There is a little vanilla and almond in the breezes too, and a nice touch of maple seems to weave in and out. The whisky has a gentle complexity that is pleasant and engaging.

In the Mouth 51/60

The Rich & Rare Reserve is lightly oily and/or creamy in the mouth with flavours of butterscotch, corn, and vanilla leading out on the palate. Some nice zesty spices ars present in the form of citrus zest, rye spice and hints of wood sap. Bits of tobacco and honeycomb are suggested as is a nice touch of maple syrup. The orange marmalade I noticed in the breezes seems to be manifesting itself as orange liqueur, and the almond has merged with sweet butterscotch to give me an impression of marzipan. Some canned fruit (particularly apricots and peaches) and a light touch of sherry fill out the flavour profile.

The flavour suggests the same gentle complexity and structure that the nose implied, and I find the whisky to be an enjoyable sipper. However, I also have an inclination to mix a delicious Manhattan style cocktail (see recipe below).

In the Throat 12.5/15

The whisky exits with a nice push of wood spice, tobacco and orange peel (both the citrus zest and the bitter white pith.) Hints of maple and an impression of rose petals rounds out the finale.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

The Rich & Rare Reserve is a nice Canadian  Whisky with a well-rounded flavour profile. It is an acceptable sipper, although I think that the flavour is also suited to classic cocktails such as the Manhattan, or the Old-Fashioned.

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


Suggested Recipes:

SAM_0823The Iced Ruby Manhattan

2 oz Rich & Rare Reserve Canadian Whisky
1/2 oz Ruby Port
1/8 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1/4 – 1/2 oz sugar syrup
Dash of Angostura Bitters
Cracked Ice
Crushed Ice
Twist of Orange Peel

Add the first five ingredients with cracked ice in a Metal Shaker.
Shake quickly to chill
Strain the mixed ingredients over the ice
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink



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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