Signal Hill Canadian Whisky

Signal Hill is one of Newfoundland's most iconic historical landmarks. This rocky outcrop at the mouth of St. John's harbour was the site of possible Viking landings, fierce battles between the English and the French, and perhaps most famously, the world's first transatlantic wireless transmission by Guglielmo Marconi.

To celebrate the history of this unique place, Jonathan Hemi, Brian Meret and Kristina Cappellini of Globalfill Inc. and Crystal Head Vodka fame decided to launch the namesake Signal Hill brand of Canadian whisky back in 2014. 

However, it would be another four years before this vision became reality. After partnering with a legend in the Canadian whisky world, Master Blender Michael Booth - formerly affiliated with Corby Spirit & Wine Ltd.- along with Rock Spirits, the St. John's-based blending and bottling division of  the Newfoundland Labrador Liquor Corporation, the founders had a team in place with which to source, blend and package their tribute whisky. 

Nearly forty blending experiments later, they landed on the recipe for Signal Hill: a 95-5 blend of column distilled corn and pot distilled malted barley aged in three types of casks and then reduced with Newfoundland water to 40% ABV.

Interestingly, all along the way, none of the spirit from the new white oak, ex-bourbon, or ex-Canadian whisky casks used was chill-filtered and the final product is also non chill-filtered; a relative rarity in the Canadian whisky landscape. 

My bottle, which was graciously donated by the folks at Lux 9, is from batch 18025 and was bottled nearly a year ago on January 25, 2018. 

Nose: Loads of toffee, buttery vanilla, a smear of beeswax and is that a hint of maple? With some air, a delicate fruitiness and a light charred wood note appear.

Palate: Very smooth with an almost syrupy texture. Quite sweet and showing big toffee flavours, with plummy jam, dried fruit, cinnamon, and subtle oak.

Finish: Long, lingering with a molasses sweetness alongside gentle oaky spice, bitter orange peel, and more raisins.

Overall: Beautifully textured and smooth, Signal Hill is a great choice for those who like the sweeter side of Canadian whisky or who may be new to whisky in general. The body on this whisky is remarkable and it's due in large part to the skill of the blender but also it's a testament to the difference that comes with an NCF whisky. In many ways this dram reminds me of Forty Creek's Copper Pot Reserve mixed with J.P. Wiser's 15 year old yet somehow more polished and sweeter.

Given that this is a blend of "sourced" whisky, I will be interested to see how future years' bottlings compare with this batch. Will they be able to secure spirit from the same producer? Three types of maturation means three times the possibility of variation somewhere along the line; can the blender recreate the profile? Is Michael Booth signed on for "the long haul"? While these questions and the  providence of the whiskies in this blend will likely remain a mystery, there's no doubt that this bottle offers good value with its $39.95 price tag in the LCBO

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