Cooper Spirits company sourced straight rye whiskies aged between 4 and 15 years from five different North American distilleries, located in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Alberta Canada. Then, they did what the Scots have been doing successfully for ages, and vatted them together. … The vats are maintained at the company’s Philadelphia, Pennsylvania headquarters until the components marry and then bottled at a hearty 100 proof (50% ABV) without chill-filtration.
The Northern Harvest Rye bottling itself is a blended Canadian whisky comprising a high percentage (90%) of rye. (Most Canadian whisky contains rye, to some extent.) The packaging claims the rye used is from fields that over-winter under cover of snow which, we’re expected to believe, leads to smoother whisky. The result is bottled at 45% ABV. That’s pretty much all Crown has revealed. So, am I about to taste the world’s best whiskey?
At any rate, this is an ex-bourbon single malt from the Deanston distillery. (The bottle says “Matured in Oak Casks”. Duh.) It was distilled in 2003 and bottled in 2015 at 40% ABV after 12 years of aging. Deanston’s official releases are bottled without chill-filtration, but there’s no telling what Alexander Murray chose to do when bottling this. I found it at Trader Joe’s in California for $30.
Bland, and somewhat bitter. Not a successful malt. This should probably not have been saved from the mountain of “blending fodder” barrels for which it was no doubt originally destined. There are no redeeming florals, fruits, or even cloying sweets. Instead, it mostly just tastes like insipid wood and alcohol. If you’re standing in a Trader Joe’s right now, trying to make a decision, I’ll make it for you: Get the 12 year-old Highland (psst! It’s from Deanston) instead.
Peaty, with the same notes as the more seaweed-flecked Islay malts like Laphroaig but without the same intensity. The 10 year is aged in ex-bourbon casks (and allegedly spends some small amount of time in Mizunara casks) and is bottled at 45% ABV.
Greenore made waves when it was first released and single-handedly made a name for single-grain whiskey in a market dominated by blends and single malts.
FEW’s rye is made on a copper still from a mashbill of 70% rye, 20% corn, and 10% malted barley all from mid-western US growers, and is aged around three years. Note that FEW’s gin is made on a second still, to avoid “cross-contamination” of the gin botanicals into the whiskies.
The 15 is interesting. It’s widely-distributed, very cost-effective for a 15 year-old malt, and has something that no other (or almost no other) scotch on the market has: malt from a modified sherry-style Solera system. It’s miles ahead in quality from Glenfiddich 12 (which is just passably drinkable), but still usually under $50
Okay so this is very pleasant single malt whisky. It is light and airy, vibrant and youthful (in a good way), and with an array of flowers and fruits that scream “Springtime!” while never becoming cloying, bitter, or overbearing. That said, this is no sherry-bomb. There are no dense red fruits, figs, currants, resin, or anything else commonly associated with the older sherried malts.
This is the single strangest peated malt I’ve ever tasted. All of the peat notes are specifically and only related to salty smoked meats (salmon, barbecue, etc.) There is a hint of the ocean/seaweed, but the overall impression is of liquid smoked salmon. If that sounds good to you (it does to me!), then this is a Must Try.