Gooderham & Worts Four Grain Canadian Whisky

Oh, it’s Father’s Day today, which makes me a bad blogger. Everyone else with their head in the proverbial game is posting Top 10 lists of Gifts for Dad and promoting Father’s Day sales and giveaways and subscriptions. I find the “Influencer” rat race very tiresome, and that makes me doubly happy to not consider myself amongst their ilk. I just post reviews and try to keep to a schedule. Once in awhile I post some rambling thoughts. I don’t even know how many Twitter followers I have. What’s Instagram?

On to this week’s review, which unfortunately brings me a certain degree of sadness. I was hyped by the release of Lot 40 Canadian Rye back in the day, which to me heralded a new age of quality Canadian whisky finally being exported to the States. I was therefore waiting with bated breath for the distiller of Lot 40, Corby Spirits, to re-release another classic Canadian whisky: Gooderham & Worts. Then the day finally came and… it’s just not very good. Pair this disappointment with my uhm… less-than-stellar review of sibling Pike Creek (Port Finish) and there’s only one conclusion to make: Canadian whisky revolution cancelled. Return the fireworks and fire the band.

The original G&H was a large Toronto distiller established in 1832. By 1926 it was the largest producer of Canadian whisky and the then-owner bought the second largest Canadian distillery, which was Hiram Walker. The G&H facility functioned as a Hiram Walker plant until it was closed for good in 1990. The eponymous brand was re-released by current Hiram Walker owner Pernod Ricard in 2015 and is now distilled by Corby Spirits (which is mostly owned by Pernod Ricard) in Windsor, Ontario. In traditional Canadian style, the four grains that go into G&H (rye, wheat, barley, and corn) are distilled separately on column stills (and some also on pot stills) and aged separately in a combination of virgin oak (the vast majority) and ex-bourbon cooperage until they are blended together to form the final product, which is bottled at 44.4% ABV. Age? No information available on that. It has to be at least 3 years old to be called Canadian Whisky.

My bottle says Blend No. A.A1129 on it. It retails for around $35, which is only about 5 bucks less than Lot 40, which is seriously better in every single way.

Nose: Spicy, but in a cloyingly sweet way (like cinnamon and cardamom in syrup). Corn syrup… maple syrup… all the syrups. The grain profiles seem to be buried under four to five layers of treacly heavy sweetness, although some notes of sweet corn, green apple, and lemon peel peek through like shipwrecked sailors drowning in an ocean of corn syrup.

Palate: Medium bodied with a very low, gentle tongue burn. Again, the first impression is one of spice, while all of the following flavors are syrup and candy and sweetness. A bit of dried cinnamon and clove, and a hint of acetone near the end, alas.

Finish: Short. The acetone appears quickly, and is paired with a slightly bitter or astringent charcoal note. The sweetness seems to have ended, but there also doesn’t appear to be much underneath it. Fades quickly.

With Water: Several drops of water initially wash out the aroma, and increase the nose tickle. After a rest in the glass there might be an extra green pear note. The palate seems unchanged. Water optional, but I don’t think it helps.

Overall: I’m pretty disappointed. I expected something closer to Lot 40, or maybe Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye, which are simple but effective and well-rounded drinks. This dram is all elbows, an awkward combination of too-sweet and too-simple with lonely hints of incomplete spice and grain flavors. This already-messy formula is then marred by acetone (paint thinner) notes at the end of the palate and in the finish, which is far too short.

As it’s thoroughly outshone by both its slightly-more-expensive sibling Lot 40, and its cheaper competition Crown Royal Northern Harvest, I cannot recommend this. Look for either of those, instead.

Gooderham & Worts Four Grain Canadian Whisky
44.4% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $35 - $45
Acquired: (bottle) K&L Wine Merchants, Redwood City, CA. $35.

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