Bearface Canadian Whisky

Sourced and blended whiskies might just be the next big trend in Canadian whisky. More and more of these sourced, non-distillery, bottlings keep popping up on the landscape.

After all, it takes a small fortune and several years to build, staff and launch a new distillery not to mention the lag time between the first run of spirit off the still and the requisite three years of waiting around for the liquid to age before it can legally be called "Canadian whisky."

Canadian brands like Whistle Pig, Signal Hill, Twelve Barrels, and now Mark Anthony Brands' Bearface Canadian whisky have bypassed the risk and sunk costs of operating their own distilleries and instead have sourced their whiskies from established Canadian producers. More than independent bottlers, these brands try to put their own spin on their sourced spirit through additional barrel finishing and blending.

Bearface is refreshingly upfront about its status as a sourced whisky, epitomized by it's "hide nothing, fear nothing" slogan. Using three types of casks in its production, Bearface is a single grain whisky that was first aged 7 years in ex-bourbon barrels "on the shores of Georgian Bay," before being shipped across the country to Mission Hill B.C. where it spent time in red wine casks made from French oak. But, for master blender Andres Faustinelli, that wasn't enough wood influence! 

Something was missing, so the finishing touch was a few months in bespoke new Hungarian oak casks to add a "unique spice finish", before it was finally bottled at 42.5% ABV. 

The whisky has a lovely reddish hue and the bottle packaging shows evidence of thoughtful and careful design touches from the Bearface branding on the cork and cap to the "claw marks" on the bottle and the "tear" out of the labelling. 

It certainly looks nice but how does it taste? 

Nose: Sawdust and toasted wood loom large with sweeter notes of marzipan and caramel as supporting players. 

Palate: Surprisingly not as woody as the nose would suggest. Instead, this full-bodied dram shows a restrained wood influence that's balanced against rich, vanilla-tinged caramel, muddled berries, chestnuts and a lightly astringent orange oil flavour.

Finish: Smooth and long with a gentle warming finish showing spicy, toasted oaky tones, more chestnuts, and a hint of mocha capped off with juicy citrus.

Overall: I fully expected Bearface to be an over-oaked mess but my assumptions were pleasantly shattered with the first sip which I chalk up to the skill of the master blender, Andres Faustinelli. This sourced whisky is incredibly smooth, approachable and very drinkable. While the website features several complicated cocktails in which to mix Bearface, I think it's probably best appreciated neat or possibly on the rocks as it's a flavourful dram that needn't be masked with other stuff. At $39.95 in the LCBO, Bearface is a remarkable value buy for fans of Canadian whisky.

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