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Seagram’s 83 Canadian Whisky

Review: Seagram’s 83 Canadian Whisky   77.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published April 21, 2013

Seagram’s has a rich and storied history which can be dated back to 1857 when the Granite Mills and Waterloo Distillery Company was formed. About seven years later, Joseph Seagram joined the company and by 1911 the company was known as Joseph E. Seagram & Sons. Today, over 100 years later, the Seagram name is still in use as a brand, but ownership of this whisky has been passed on to Diageo who now use the aged stocks at their Valleyfield Distillery in Quebec to produce the whisky.

Like the previously reviewed Seagram’s VO, the Seagram’s 83 is what I term, an ‘old-fashioned’ Canadian rye whisky. The emphasis is on rye flavour blended into the whisky to be enjoyed in those tall cocktails us Canadians enjoy so much all year round.

seagram-83-sam_2768In the Bottle 3.5/5

A nice bottle shot of the Seagram’s 83 is shown to the left. I usually like unusual bottles which stand out from the crowd, but I will be honest and say that I am not ‘digging’ the look of this relic from the past. I guess that to me it just looks out-of-place as if the bottle was originally designed for another spirit entirely. The dated look causes me to subconsciously suspect that the contents were not worth an upgrade. The look of the bottle has caused me to dismiss this whisky many times in the past when I saw it for sale at my local liquor store.

In the Glass 8/10

The Seagram’s whisky has a light copper colour, and after I pour some, it takes only a little while for the whisky to make its presence known to the breezes above the glass. When those whisky scents arrive they are full of rye spice which for me is always a welcome beginning. There are also indications of sandalwood, and mildly sweet tones of vanilla, honey and butterscotch. If you take some time with the glass sour fruit, and tobacco can be found as well as light corn accents and a wee bit of maple. I like those breezes above the glass, I find them balanced, although not overly complex.

In the Mouth 47/60

This is indeed a bit of an old-fashioned rye whisky. It has a moderately sharp bite featuring typical Canadian whisky flavours of rye spice, ginger and white pepper offset by butterscotch, vanilla and maple. A bit of punky corn nestles in the background with sweet and sour fruit, some orange zest and canned apricots.

Although I like what I taste, I would not call the whisky smooth; rather it seems to be destined for a tall glass to be accompanied by a healthy amount of ginger-ale and ice.

In the Throat  11.5/15

When the whisky is sipped neat, the exit is like the entry, moderately sharp or rough, with flavours of butterscotch, ginger, white pepper, honey and rye spice all tumbling down the throat. The finish has a bit of a cloying sweet and sour feel to it, and I am not encouraged by the lingering flavours to repeat the process very many times, especially with the creeping burn that accompanies each sip. This is definitely a whisky destined for the long tall cocktail.

The Afterburn 7.5/10

I was encouraged by the nose of the Seagram’s 83 such that I was hopeful of finding a bit of a diamond in the rough here. But instead, what I found was a mediocre whisky which only finds harmony when it is accompanied by its partners ginger ale and ice. Not that there is anything wrong with that. The rye and ginger cocktail was made famous by whiskies such as this, and I suspect that many of you are like me and enjoy that cocktail too.

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


Suggested Recipe

As I suggested, this Canadian Whisky works well with ginger-ale and a bit of ice. This means that a ginger ale ‘cooler’ recipe would be a good destiny for the Seagram’s 83 Canadian Whisky.

Canadian Cooler

2 oz Seagram’s 83
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
dash of bitters
1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Ginger Ale

Pour the whisky, the lemon and lime  juice, and the simple syrup into a metal shaker
Add a dash of bitters
Shake until the outside of the metal shaker frosts.
Strain into an ice-filled glass.
Top with Ginger-ale
If desired garnish with a slice of lemon or lime


As usual, 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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