Tag Archives: Bourbon Barrel Aging

Innis & Gunn Canada Day (2011)

This is a special once-a-year seasonal by Innis & Gunn. It is released about 3 weeks prior to Canada Day, along with an ‘Independence Day” seasonal that’s exclusively seen in the states. Clearly they’re trying to take advantage of the increase in liquor sales around Canada Day/the 4th of July. That’s fine by me, a new Innis & Gunn beer is always special. The 2011 is stored for 54 days in ex-bourbon barrels, utilizes fuggles hops, and rings in at 8.3%.

– Kamran

*****

The Canada Day (2011) is complex and unique, and changes significantly over time (Check out the notes made on the 2012 version where we do a vertical tasting). While I had enjoyed this beer last summer upon the release, we didn’t taste this until it was nearly a half-year aged already, so bear this in mind while reading the review.

Initially, the Canada Day (2011) Innis & Gunn was quite hop-forward and citrusy. After a half-year, it was still relatively hop forward and citrusy. It is certainly the hoppiest Innis & Gunn beer I’ve had — never got to try the IPA. This level of hoppiness is quite pleasing to my palate, as I enjoy a nice well-hopped beer. Besides the hops are the typical Innis & Gunn flavours, such as toffee and vanilla. They are quite pronounced, but slightly subdued by the citrus-hop finish that dies rather quickly. One may also taste the yeast. I believe this is due to the bottle being aged for a half a year, and, after a year, we will find out that my belief was accurate. The body is creamy and smooth, though slightly lighter than the Original.

Nose: 23
Body: 22.5
Taste: 21.5
Finish: 20

Kamran: 87 pts.

*****

Canada is supposedly the third largest consumer market for Innis and Gunn -which isn’t exactly too surprising- and they have deemed us worthy of a special release brew! Aged 54 days and sitting at 8.3% alcohol/volume, this beer does feel much bolder than a typical Innis and Gunn.

On the nose there is a light hop aroma blended with malty sweetness, while the taste carries the hops, the malt is less pronounced and seemingly less balanced than others; however, it still has the vanilla and toffee notes mixed in there. The apricot coloured body was cloudy/opaque with less carbonation than the original, with a slight bitterness and thicker texture than the others. On the finish, it was oaken with lingering hops on the palate and the standard vanilla/toffee duo.

While it was a good beer and a change from the typical malty brews, the Original is still a better bet for cost and overall experience.

Nose: 23
Body: 20.5
Taste: 19
Finish: 18

Tristan: 80.5 pts.

*****

Final Average: 83.75 pts.

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Spicebox Canadian Spiced Whisky

Spicebox Canadian Spiced Whisky is quite the oddity. While not a true whisky, it is not a liqueur either; it straddles a fine line that makes it hard to place. For our sake we decided to label it a spirit for our Top Spirits section. Yet if there is one thing that this “whisky” has going for it, is the sweet aroma that is so inviting even long after your glass is empty. The blended whisky is a combination of malts aged 3-6 years in bourbon barrels and a particular rye as the base. The spice is a combination, supposedly consisting of three types of vanilla beans, pepper, nutmeg, and fruits. While it isn’t the first or only spiced whisky available on the Canadian market, it has been growing in popularity amongst a niche population of drinkers. Best enjoyed neat.

-Tristan

*****

The Spicebox is not at all as I expected; I did not expect it to be quite so delicately sweet and complex. I expected more sharp, piquant spices such as cinnamon. I was also expecting an overabundance of added flavours which drown out the natural whisky flavours — as many spiced spirits tend to do, trying to cover up the terrible underlying taste — however; I was pleasantly surprised to find the Spicebox subtle, well integrated, and still a whisky!

The most profound spice I found to be nutmeg. It appears quite clearly and distinctly both on the nose and palate. Along with this, notes of caramel and vanilla appear on the nose, while some chocolate, toffee, and butterscotch appear on the palate, making it quite a great little winter drink — I’d like to try it with egg-nog. Nevertheless, the Spicebox is enjoyable on it’s own, and does not require anything to mix it with; while it may work well as a mix, it’s more than acceptable as a sipping spirit.

What is quite remarkable about this unique spirit is how it changes. While the nutmeg notes are found most clearly, different spices accompany it on the nose than on the palate than on the finish. With this said, the finish is my favourite part of the Spicebox. It becomes quite herbal, with notes of wintergreen and anise — almost root-beer like.

Nose: 23
Body: 21
Taste: 22
Finish: 23.5

Kamran: 89.5 pts.

*****

First recommended to me by Kamran at his work, and it was so good I ended up buying a bottle. A very reasonably priced product, this whiskey is perfect for savouring and slowly sipping as to maximize the room-filling aroma. This golden auburn coloured spirit is sweet. It smells like cookie dough with the amount of nutmeg, vanilla, toffee and spices included. The best part is, even long after the glass is empty, the smell lingers. On first taste it is quite sweet, light on the tongue and mild in terms of that whisky sensation. The vanilla is certainly more promient than the spice. The aftertaste on the palate reflects more of the spices included yet is brief. Mild taste overall. This is certainly a novelty and not something to have too frequently. People who enjoy sweet things would find this up their alley, but those who prefer to have the peat and oak flavors of a traditional whiskey may not be too keen to try this, no matter how good it smells.

Nose: 25
Body: 22
Taste: 22
Finish: 24

Tristan: 93

*****

I must really like spiced liqour, because I found the Spicebox to be particularly memorable, for all the right reasons.

We are greeted by a noticeable nutmeg aroma combined with hints of vanilla and a complimentary segment of Bourbon. This unique scent really sends your senses flying. The body, upon tasting, reveals itself to be rather smooth and easily drinkable, with a light, pleasant burn on the lips that really helps you to capture and preserve the flavours in this unusual blended whisky. Speaking of flavours, they remind me of the Old Port rum, except of a lower grade of intensity. Where the Old Port was heavy on spice, the Spicebox actually offers a much smoother and more subtle experience, with the intensity of the spice nicely balanced out by the vanilla. I particularly enjoyed the finish of the Spicebox, which gave a long-lasting impression of drinking a root beer, with distinct sweet, caramel overtones.

This is another spiced liqueur that I would like to try with eggnog, though in all honesty I would thoroughly enjoy this on its own. As someone who is new to whisky, this is a great introduction.

Nose: 24
Body: 23
Taste: 24
Finish: 22

James: 93

*****

Final Average: 91.83

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