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Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Ice Cask Whisky

Review: Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Ice Cask Whisky   84/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on September 19, 2019

Wayne Gretzky No 99 Ice Cask Whisky is a Canadian Whisky produced by Wayne Gretzky Estates, who advertise themselves as Niagra’s only Winery, Distillery and Brewery. The new 23,000 square foot facility (a cooperative effort between Andrew Peller (Wines) LTD. and the Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky) was constructed over two years and includes both a winery and a distillery as well as tasting areas and barrel aging cellar.

The Ice Cask Whisky does not contain an age statement, however, as a Canadian Whisky we know that it must have been aged in oak casks for at least three years. Apparently, a small portion the spirit’s maturation was in accomplished in Ice Wine Casks which has added a hint of sweet fruit (grape) to the signature Canadian Whisky flavour profile. Although, the Ice Cask enhancement is at the front and center of the whisky, it is also apparent from tasting that rye grain was a strong focus as well. Wayne Gretzky Estates Master Distiller Joshua Beach was in charge of the project which is said to have required more than 99 trials to get just perfect.

The Canadian Whisky Spirit is bottled at 41.5 % alcohol by volume.

In The Bottle 4.5/5

The Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Ice Cask Whisky arrives in a medium tall short necked clear cylindrical bottle which showcases the amber hued whisky. The label is all about the Wayne Gretzky brand, and in Canada that brand is sure to excite more than a few hockey loving whisky drinkers. (I’ve met a few and trust me, they are excited.)

My only quibbles are the lack of an age statement, and the relative short neck which makes pouring just a little tricky. Those are just quibbles as the positives far outweigh the negatives in the Whisky presentation.

In the Glass 8.5/10

The Ice Cask Whisky displays an amber hue which maybe has turned the corner towards copper. When the whisky is given a slow tilt in the glass followed by a even twirl we see a thick(ish) crest formed which releases lots of small droplets which sort of hang there for a while before they reluctantly begin to traverse downwards. It’s hard to make any conclusions as the impact of the ice wine cask has probably exerted a firm influence on the visual appearance of the whisky.

The breezes bring forward an impression of bold rye and cereal grain which are accented by butterscotch, vanilla and clove with a light nutty scent of almond tagging along. I gave the whisky several minutes in the glass to develop. A light fruity quality was evident with notes of orange citrus and fainter tones of green grape.

In The Mouth 50/60

The Ice Cask Whisky from Wayne Gretzky Estates has a nice fruity rye flavour out in front with light accents of vanilla and butterscotch providing a little sweetness. There are a few hints of chocolate and baking spice as well. The influence of the Ice Wine Cask is not lost, but neither is it omnipresent. A light grape-like fruitiness is evident; however, it serves as a mild accent and not as the star attraction which is surely that firm rye presence within the spirit.

I mixed an Old Fashioned Cocktail as well as a Rye and Ginger Highball. My preference was most certainly towards the highball, although the Old Fashioned was not a bad choice either. I suspect the spirit would do very well when mixed in a Manhattan.

In The Throat 12.5/15

The Whisky is medium bodied with a lightly sweet spicy rye finish. Hints of chocolate tantalize the taste buds, yet despite this overt spiciness, I would classify the finish as quite smooth (an obvious benefit of the Ice Wine Cask enhancement).

The Afterburn 8.5/10

Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Ice Cask Whisky is a yummy indulgence. It is not overly complex, but it hits all the right notes as far as Canadian Rye Whisky is concerned. I was hoping the spirit would show perhaps a touch more development in the glass. My impression is that the spirit is youthful, tempered by its time in the Ice Wine Cask, but lacking the complexity and development of a well aged spirit. 

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

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Suggested Recipe:

Canadian Caribou

1 1/2 oz Canadian Whisky
1/2  oz Yukon Jack
Ice
Firm 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

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

And if  you are interested in more recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for my mixed drink recipes!

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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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