Lot 40 Canadian Rye Whisky 2012 Release

I wish I could say that after tasting through all that blended Canadian whisky, that I personally discovered this gem. That would be dishonest, though, and if you can’t trust something you read on the Internet, then what can you trust? Seriously, though, I had it on good authority from David Driscoll at K&L that Lot 40 was worth a close look, so I bought a bottle blind. It’s also significantly more expensive than any other Canadian whisky I’ve reviewed, and it’s not a blend, so it’s not fair to compare to the cheapo blends below. Still, THIS is what I wanted – really good Canadian whisky available in the US. It’s happening!

This guy was Whisky Advocate’s 2013 Canadian Whisky of the year. Apparently available (even in the States) previously, it disappeared from production for over a decade and sparked a global bottle hunt among Canadian whisky drinkers in the know. Bottler Corby Distilleries has re-launched Lot 40 with its 2012 Release. The whisky is distilled at the Hiram Walker plant from a mashbill of 90% rye and 10% malted rye using a copper pot still. This is the real deal. This is what Canadian whisky (should be) all about, and thank goodness it’s available in the US!

Update 3/31/2015 David D. over at K&L conducted an interview with Hiram Walker Master Blender Don Livermore and he had this fascinating tidbit to share about the production of Lot 40:

It’s 100% rye whisky. The rye is passed once through a column still and then a pot still. When yeast ferments, it makes fruity, floral, green grass, soapy, and sulfur characters. We can control the fermentation’s temperature, the nitrogen level, the pH, grain levels or a number of other things in order to influence the yeast to make these characteristics. We do a warm ferment that helps the yeast grow quickly and ultimately make alcohol quickly. After 3 days of fermentation we achieve 8% abv. When you put that fermented rye mash once through the column still you keep the grain character (spicy), as well as the floral, the fruity, the green grass, and the soapy notes that yeast has made. […] We then pass the column distilled liquid through a pot still for Lot 40 [which strips out the grass and soapy notes].

for more on the topic of distillation of Canadian whisky at Hiram Walker, read the whole interview.

Nose: Oh my God. Delicate cherry blossoms, crushed eucalyptus, sticky dried golden delicious apples. No dusty spice cabinet. Instead, the “rye spices” smell like freshly-opened seed pods of clove and allspice. I now know what rye whisky is supposed to smell like. This is -amazing-.

Palate: Soft. The spices are slightly more predominant on the tongue, with clear cinnamon and clove. Gingersnap cookies. Soft rye grain with a touch of oakiness and some vanilla-flecked caramel. Nice, but not as earth-shattering as the aroma.

Finish: Mild, medium-length. The eucalyptus returns, with a ghost of fresh mint leaves. Finishes totally devoid of bitterness.

With Water: Oddly, a few drops of water dulls the aroma. The palate is sweeter, with some nice fleshy stone fruit. I’d avoid the water here, just because of the disservice it does to that lovely aroma.

Overall: This isn’t saying much, but this is the best Canadian whisky I’ve ever had. It’s also the best nose I’ve ever smelled on anything with rye in it. Hell, I’ll say it, it’s even better (on the nose) than any bourbon I’ve tried, including those from Van Winkle. The palate doesn’t quite live up to the promise of the nose (what can?), but is soft and subtle in its own right. The finish is sedate and unobtrusive. Really, though, I could sit here and smell this all night.

If you like bourbon, rye, Canadian whisky, or American craft whisky, then you now have a mission. You must smell this whisky. Find a bar that carries it, a friend with a bottle, a retailer who will pour you a sample under the table, or a public tasting event. Buy a bottle if you have to. You must smell this whisky.

Lot 40 Canadian Rye Whisky 2012 Release
43% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $50 - $60
Acquired: (bottle) K&L Wine Merchants, Redwood City, CA. $60.

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  • Hi ScotchNoob!
    Here in Canada, this bottle is sold for $40 taxes in. At this price, in your opinion, it’s still a MUST TRY or become a MUST HAVE ???
    Thank you!

    • I love that it is actually cheaper in Canada than the US.

      This is a great whisky. The only other Canadian whisky I’ve had that comes close is Alberta Premium Dark Horse. Amazingly it’s even cheaper at around $28 a bottle. Definitely 2 whiskies that are a great value in Canada.

  • Here it is, the bigfoot of canadian whiskies. Im glad i bought a bottle, as it is way better than high west double rye that i had in the cabinet representing the rye category. I was little disappointed at the abv at first for the price, but it hits the pallett more like 46%. Thanks for reviewing it SN.

  • Found 4 bottles at Bloomington Il Binny’s. 15% sale brought price down to $51. Cherry blossom and rye spice nose is amazing!

    • I purchased two bottles on 5/19/15 at Binny’s in Bolingbrook, IL for $49.99/ea. They’re closing out this whisky at the Bolingbrook location for some reason. They were originally priced at $59.99/btl.

  • I wish I had read this review yesterday. I was looking at this at a liquor store today wondering what was up. I’m in the same situation as Fred, $40 out the door because I’m in Ontario.

  • For those who are, like me, very sensitive to banana flavor this Lot 40 got a very exotic profile with a big ripe banana going with the nutmeg cinnamon and rose water. For me, it is by far the best canadian whisky I ever had. I wrote a full review of it on Connosr and there’s one by Victor as well, it should interest you all.

  • About having a great bourbon nose, I did a homemade vating of 50% of Gibson’s 18 yo Finest and Rare with 50% of Fighting Cock (I have the batch with a big punch). I was braging at how good it smells and taste and I received some doubtful look from Scotch snobs (not you) but when they tasted it, they were comparing it to Glenfiddich Solera but even better! (Their words) It was all about the soft spices and the floral notes (rose and jasmin). I had to admit, I was proud of myself.

  • Hopefully some of the Highwood distillery (Alberta) whiskies will be available in the US,Highwood Ninety (proof) aged 20 years (under $50)is as good as anything I have ever tasted.

    Don’t turn your nose up at Pike’s Creek whiskey (age statement 10 years on Canadian labels)Lot 40’s brother.

  • Lot 40 was the Canadian whisky in my small noob collection (been mainly focusing on scotch-style single malts since getting the taste a couple of years ago). Outstanding nose, and great balance of rye flavours – but more baked desserts than dusty bread. Think cinnamon scones with a bit of dark fruit jam, yum. Nathan’s review is spot on, as usual – I could happily just smell it all night (Mrs selfbuilt opines it would last longer that way ;).
    At $40 CDN, it remains an outstanding value. I’ve come across many other excellent Canadian whiskies in a similar (and higher) price range, but little below – aside from the above mentioned Alberta Premium Dark Horse (another favourite for tastings at my house, especially by sherried malt lovers). But the Canadian Club 100% Rye is a good “budget” version of the Lot 40, for those of you who cross the border (similarly unavailable in the US). Very similar palate and finish – maybe a touch more fruity, a bit less floral. Sadly, the nose isn’t as impressive as Lot 40’s, but it’s definitely on the same relative balance of “dessert rye” flavourings. Certainly much better than any regular CC.

  • Just bought my first bottle of Lot 40. The LCBO has it on clearance for $28. Really enjoyed the Alberta Premium Dark Horse. Read a few reviews of Lot 40, and read how positive they were. Can’t wait to try!

  • I just bought Lot40 this week. I found it tasty, but a little too harsh neat, which is how I take my scotch. Dropped in an ice cube (which IMO is permissible with just a $40CDN price tag) and wow. This is easily the best Canadian whiskey I’ve had. Sweet and creamy, nice length of finish…just delicious. Also a steal considering that a scotch this good, even a good blend like Monkey Shoulder, is going to run $60CDN a bottle and up.

    Wow, I don’t need to be ashamed of my country’s whiskey anymore!

    • Thanks for the comment! I’m a big fan of Lot 40 – I actually just picked up another bottle a few weeks ago. IMHO it’s way better than “Whisky of the Year” Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye (although I tasted that one at a show and didn’t get a chance to really review it – I’ll be reviewing that one for real, soon). Cheers!

  • You must try Wiser’s Legacy, $10 more in Canada but really good Whiskey. Wiser’s Red Letter is another, however quite expensive. LA Whiskey Society gave Red Letter an A-.
    Corby’s just released Wiser’s “Last Barrels”, 14 year Sour Mash, basically a Canadian Bourbon, Ontario only release however.
    Along with Lot 40 as you stated, they all come from Corby Distillery.

  • Just picked up a bottle of the 12 year old cast strength of the Lot 40 and if you like this the 12 year old is out of this world. To bad it’s only limited to 5000 bottles as it’s the only Canadian whiskey that can go head to head with Buffalo Traces antique lineup such as Handley or the 17 year Sazerac.

  • Just picked up the last 5 bottles of Lot 40 2012, at the sale price of $30.00 (plus $2 tax) from California. Don’t know if the state line liquor store new what they had. I zip over the border from my control state of oregon. This is madness! Yipee!!!

  • The Lot 40 is an excellent rye whisky, bold and spicy. However I give Wiser’s Legacy the edge for its subtle complexity, elegance, and broader palate. In a different vein is Gooderham & Worts Four Grain, another Canadian whiskey, this one with a light, delicate, fruity, and clean with plenty of character, for those who are inclined towards Glenlivet, Jura, Glenmorangie, and their ilk.


  • 2012 Lot 40 was amazing. The current green label version is still pretty good but is sad and flabby by comparison; the Vegas Elvis of Lot 40.

  • I still love Forty Creek Copper Pot as my go-to Canadian whisky) it has flavour and depth, but Lot 40 is a keeper too. Like a slice of rye bread, in a very good way. Load up the salami!