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Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Red Cask Canadian Whisky

Review: Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Red Cask Canadian Whisky   75.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on September 01, 2017

The Wayne Gretzky Distillery had its grand opening this past June (on the weekend of the 9th, 10th and 11th). 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.

Prior to the grand opening, the distillery released its first Canadian Whisky, Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Red Cask Canadian Whisky.

According to the Wayne Gretzky Estates website information:

”  Wayne Gretzky No. 99 ‘Red Cask’ Canadian Whisky is made in small batches from grain (rye, malted rye and corn) that has been individually mashed, fermented and distilled. After aging, the whisky is finished with red wine casks from the Wayne Gretzky winery. “

Of course the Wayne Gretzky Distillery has not been operating long enough to have distilled their own Canadian Whisky. This means the new spirit was produced at a third-party Canadian Distillery. However, Joshua Beach (Wayne Gretzky Distillery’s Master Blender) apparently oversaw the production of the Whisky that bears the Distillery’s name.

In The Bottle 4.5/5

The Wayne Gretzky No. 99 ‘Red Cask’ Canadian 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.) Printed upon the back label is a quote (apparently from Wayne Gretzky himself) which extols the virtues of hard work and links that work ethic to the production of the Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Whisky. This is complete with a faux signature from ‘The Great One’ himself.

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

In the Glass 8/10

When poured into my glencairn, I see the Red Cask Whisky shows the same amber hue in the glass which you see in my picture. There is a discernible orange/red tint which I believe is a by-product of the red wine cask enhancement.

When I tilted the glass and gave it a slow twirl, the crest which formed on the inside of the glencairn was just a little stubborn. However, it soon released long slender legs from the droplets which were clinging to the top of the crest. When I brought the glencairn to my nose to inspect the breezes above the glass, I noticed touches of butterscotch with dusty rye and oodles of clean wood spice. There is a hint of cinnamon in the air as well as just a trace of red cherry licorice and a few wisps of vanilla.

I let the glass sit for a few minutes and decided that spice is the hallmark of this whisky, as the dusty wood and grain spices seemed to grow in the glass and were then joined by zesty orange peel. An unfortunate hit of alcohol astringency is also present which makes me cautious about the first sip. My feeling at this point is that the Wayne Gretzky branded spirit is perhaps a young whisky which despite the red wine enhancement lacks the depth and character which additional time in the oak cask would have given it. I am on the fence with respect to the whisky and so is my scoring on the nose.

In The Mouth 45/60

The No. 99 ‘Red Cask’ Whisky has a lightly buttery mouthfeel which is pleasant. However, as the whisky spreads across the palate, an intense spiciness heats the mouth which has not only the hallmarks of orange peel and wood and rye spices, but also an unwelcome alcohol bite. The wine enhancement is more noticeable in the flavour profile than it was in the breezes as a firm taste of red licorice accompanies light flavours of vanilla and butterscotch within the spice and heat.

I was hoping that the whisky would evolve as I let it breathe in the glass. However, rather than developing character and depth, the flavour profile remained the same. When I added a cube of ice, I began to taste some light chocolate flavours, but these were fleeting and hard to distinguish. The whisky appears to be a mixer rather than a sipper.

I decided to mix a few cocktails. I saw that the Wayne Gretzky Estates website had a few suggestions and so I decided to mix a cocktail they call The Great Old Fashioned. This turned out to be a mistake as the firm spice within the whisky made sipping this short cocktail more adventuresome than I anticipated. So I switched gears and the path I followed was a Canadian take on the Classic Side Car. The youth of the whisky and its apparent heat seemed well suited to this sour cocktail style (see recipe below). After sampling my cocktail creation, I decided that this was a better approach for this particular Canadian Whisky.

In the Throat 10.5/15

As indicated in earlier parts of the review, the whisky is heated with orange peel, and wood and grain spices. There is also a firm hit of alcohol astringency affecting the nose, the delivery and the finish. The finish is short and heated making sipping difficult even with ice.

The Afterburn 7.5/10

Although this whisky priced as a mid-premium product, it displays itself in the glass (and in the mouth) as more of a mixer. I was hoping for much more, but on the positive side, that Canadian Sidecar recipe I developed provides me with a tasty way to share the whisky with my friends.

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:

High Level Streetcar No. 99

1 1/2 oz Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Red Cask Canadian Whisky
1/2 oz Bols Triple Sec
1/2 oz Fresh Orange Juice
1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
1 dash Angostura Bitters (optional)
Ice
Lemon Slice

Add all ingredients to a metal cocktail shaker filled with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain into a cocktail glass
Serve and Enjoy!

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

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Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

Enjoy Responsibly!

If  you are interested in more cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of 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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