Inspired by the success of the original Collingwood Canadian Whisky, produced by the Canadian Mist distillery in Collingwood, Ontario, This new 21 Year Old expression is distilled from 100% malted rye. Matured in oak, and finished in a wooden vat built with toasted maplewood staves, this whisky is much richer and darker than its younger sibling.
Collingwood 21 Year old is the result of an experiment by an intrepid master distiller. Back in 1991, the Canadian Mist distillery was producing no 100% rye whiskies, yet master distiller Harold Ferguson decided to squirrel away 50 barrels of pure rye spirit. This experiment had no plan, no decided outcome, and yet 21 years later it has produced a whisky of remarkable richness and complexity.
Nose: This once-only, extremely limited release bottling has a luxurious velvety smooth scent of rich, sweet berries combined with fresh baked bagels. The high-quality maplewood "mellowing" has done wonders to enhance and accentuate the earthy, raw elements of the rye grain. There is, as the description would suggest, a fresh maple syrup aspect to this whisky, however it is by far not the leading actor in this cast of scents. Fresh cut green wood and dried tree bark rounds out the supporting characters in this deeply satisfying nose.
Palate: Tart berries, sweetened by figs and plums are just a few of the flavours not commonly found among rye whiskies which intermingle wonderfully, and show a remarkable balance against the more floral aspects of the rye spirit. In fact, the more times I sample it, the less I am able to identify the classic floral flavours found in practically every rye whisky. The bready flavours are present however, and boy do they pack a punch. I feel as though I am standing in a bakery at seven o'clock in the morning, as the rye bread loaves are coming out of the oven and the vapours find their way onto my tongue. Root vegetables and other earthen and woody flavours such as anise tantalize my tongue and linger remarkably long, providing ample opportunity to reflect and analyse all the well rounded, buttery smooth complexity that is the Collingwood 21 Year Old.
Finish: As long as the flavours on the palate linger, the finish is multiplied by a factor of four. The thick, syrupy consistency of this whisky coats the tongue, without becoming cloying. As the whisky dissipates, a slight essence of a freshly lit birch bark campfire appears.
Overall: If you are lucky enough to obtain a bottle of this whisky, be sure to swirl it in your glass before nosing. The whisky is so visibly thick that watching the tears run down the glass reminds me of watching icicles melt in the springtime sun. Very rarely am I satisfied with a whisky bottled at only 40% ABV, however this is one of my few exceptions. Perhaps its only downside is that the strikingly rich and syrupy mouthfeel limit your enjoyment to one or two drams before needing to move onto something lighter. With less than 200 bottles spread across the province of Ontario, if you are able to seek out and find any of these bottles, buy as many as you can carry home.