Producer: Sazerac/Buffalo Trace. Distiller: undisclosed. ABV: 40%. Age: NAS. Mashbill: undisclosed (blend). Price: $45-50.
A salute to our friends up North tonight with the Caribou Crossing — billed as Canada’s first single-barrel whisky since the 19th century.
I jumped on this when it popped up at K&L Wines Hollywood a few months back as a way to start expanding my palate for Canadian whisky. Until then, I’d had little, and only truly enjoyed the Lot 40 Rye. (I know some of you will say Green Apple Jolly Ranchers, but I love it.) The Caribou Crossing came recommended by Canadian Whisky guru Davin de Kergommeaux, and got a respectful writeup from Mark Bylok in his fine book The Whisky Cabinet. Good start.
How is it? A very light but enjoyable dram — though not the revelation the Lot 40 was. Nose: Rye, plum, fruitcake, malted milk. Marzipan. Maybe a touch of jasmine. Plus a whiff of neutral grain spirit for the first few drams — uh oh — though this faded with a week or two and 1/3 of the bottle gone. Palate: orange marmalade, with alternating stewed fruits and preserves. Mouthfeel is where it falls down. At 40% ABV, it’s awfully light. The Lot 40 is 40% too, but a flavor bomb. The Caribou Crossing is much shyer. Finish: very little to speak of, just a hint of almond oil and pencil shavings.
As a Sazerac/Buffalo Trace product meant to raise Canadian whisky’s profile in the US — hand-picked from 200,000+ barrels of Canadian juice that Saz/BT has laid up — why play into the American prejudices about Canadian whisky by releasing it at such a low proof?
I’d be quite curious to try a more potent future release along these lines. As for the Caribou Crossing, I’m glad I tried it. But I’m getting another Lot 40 next. – BO