Pendleton Canadian Whisky

As whisky consumers in the United States, we are at a serious Canadian whisky disadvantage, and most of us don’t know it. The largest proportion of Canadian whisky available for purchase in the United States (both by volume, and by number of brands) is adulterated slop imported via tanker truck and bottled for sale in plants in the US. Think of it this way: Imagine if the only scotch available to you in bars or liquor stores was Johnnie Walker Red Label and Cutty Sark. Want a single-malt or a well-crafted blend? Better go to Europe to buy it. That’s the situation with Canadian whisky. The few quality spirits that emigrate from Canada (such as Forty Creek products) are relatively hard to find in stores, especially the limited edition whiskies.

The reason I bring this up is not to criticize the Canadian Whisky industry, but rather to highlight the reason that whisky drinkers in the US have a hard bias against Canadian whisky, and thus have a strong misconception that all Canadian whisky is both “light” in flavor and low in quality.

Is Pendleton Blended Canadian Whisky, imported and bottled by Hood River Distillers in Oregon, here to save US drinkers from a fate of tepid grain-heavy adulterated brown vodka? (Note that Hood River Distillers recently purchased craft spirits hero Clear Creek Distillery, makers of McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt Whisky). Alas, no. Pendleton, like Canadian whisky “8 Seconds”, is riding a curious wave of Canadian whisky popularity among rodeo fans. Their marketing materials, website, and bottle iconography are rife with references to cowboys, bucking broncos, and “life on the trail.” Why is Canadian whisky filling the apparent void in Western-appropriate whisky? I have no earthly clue.

As befits a product that puts demographic over quality, the whisky is a largely undisclosed blend of bulk Canadian whisky, brought to bottling proof (40% ABV) using “glacier-fed” spring water from Mt. Hood in Oregon. Under “facts” on the companies web page, you can find out that the whisky was aged in oak (really?) and “Each bottle prominently features the rodeo’s famous bucking horse symbol and Let’er Buck slogan.” Oh. Well, now I’m sold!

Nose: A lot of rye spice, almost too much. Heavy caramel, slightly chemical.

Palate: Very thick, creamy. Indeed, syrupy. Maple syrup (Seriously? Way to stereotype, Noob), a veneer of cinnamon and clove, and a dose of high-fructose corn syrup.

Finish: Medium length. Sweet and syrupy again, like allspice-infused corn syrup. Unfortunate chemical twist at the end, like aerosol.

With Water: Water adds some vanilla, but the nose becomes cloying. Thins the body somewhat. Makes the rye spices clearer on the finish.

Overall: Well. This is about 200% better than Ellington Reserve 8 year, but it’s still very sweet, and has a chemical aftertaste that I’m not fond of. Of course, it’s intended for mixing, but wouldn’t you prefer to mix your cocktails with something that tastes good on its own? I wouldn’t buy it. It’s not as wholly bad as many of the other bulk Canadian whisky products sold in the US, but it’s not a reason to warm to the market segment.

Pendleton Canadian Whisky
40% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $21 - $27
Acquired: 50ml miniature glass sample bottle
Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , ,
12 Comments

12 Responses to Pendleton Canadian Whisky

  1. Erich says:

    Two things my good sir: First. An excellent website I enjoy your reviews, relatively similar tastes you and I at least on your favorites list. Secondly, I must have gotten a worse bottle then you did of the Pendleton Whisky. A pint (375ml)bottle. It was basically caramel flavored rubbing alcohol, similar nose. Im not new to the tasting procedure of whisk(e)y but it was atrocious to say the least. I’ve been told the Pendleton 1912 12 year Rye is a big step up.

    • Thanks for the comment, Erich! I was surprised too, since we all know that whiskies like Ellington Reserve and Pendleton all come from the same type of factory, and are basically commodity spirit with a label slapped on the bottle. I still don’t recommend this stuff, as there are at least a few “real” Canadian whiskies on the US market that are worth the price of the glass they come in. Lot 40 is a great example of a quality Canadian whisky actually available in the US – look for a review of that coming up soon.

  2. bryan f says:

    How do these companies stay in business?

    • Bars. You ask for a “shot of whisky” or any well drink containing whisky in a lot of bars, you get this kind of stuff. Especially, apparently, rodeo bars. It’s more-or-less the same reason that a vast majority (80 to 90 percent, depending on the source) of the scotch whisky market is blends, and the majority of that is sold in bars.

      • bryan f says:

        Damn college kids and rodeo bars. That’s it though, you hit the nail on the head. I thought maybe it was from gifts people give to people they don’t like, which is probably a close second to bar consumption.

        • Hehe. If I wanted to give a “white elephant” gift that would really consternate a group of whisky aficionados, a bottle of Ellington Reserve or Pendleton would probably fit the bill. ;)

  3. Phil A says:

    I just recently stumbled across your blog, and I love it so far! I’ve been a time to time scotch enthusiast and am looking forward to getting back to it more often. Your site will definitely be a help in that and already has!

    I couldn’t agree more about Pendleton. A friend of mine recently requested that I bring this to a game night when I asked what to bring. Once I tasted it, I was unpleasantly surprised, and I’m a Jack Daniels drinker!

    Just wanted to say thanks, and keep up the great blogging!

  4. Ron E says:

    Everyone has a right to their own opinion but I think you are all wrong! Pendleton is a fantastic sipping whisky. The only thing I would ever consider to mix with it would be a couple of ice cubes. I enjoy a lot of different types whiskys (I’m not a fan of scotch though) and Pendleton is one of my favorite. Maybe I just haven’t turned into a whisky snob yet, but for my hard earned money, you can’t beat Pendleton for an affordable everyday sipping whisky!

  5. Sean M Tucker says:

    As it claims the. Canadian river it is the Canadian river it Texas I verv much enjoy this wiskey I find it has a hint of pecan wood an enjoy it meet I find it smooth

  6. Michael says:

    I find this product to be basically worthless. It should sell for around $9.95 in Oregon. YUCK!!!

  7. Con Helado says:

    Pendleton finds its place among novice whiskey drinkers who wish to transition to a heartier beverage but haven’t quite made the leap. The caramelly and syrupy flavors are more drinkable to the less educated palate. These same characteristics after experience with a more complex whiskey become less desirable.

    I still have great fondness for Pendleton because it was really the first whiskey I enjoyed. I still think it’s a great bottle to buy if you’re looking for something to sip and haven’t yet developed your own taste for whiskey yet.

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