Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still represents Canadian Whisky in a familiar yet different form. It is familiar, because this is a true rye whisky, made with locally grown Canadian rye grain carrying that wonderful spicy rye flavour forward. It is different because the distillate for the whisky was produced on a single copper-pot still rather than on those tall column stills which dominate the large Canadian distilleries. It is different also because that pot still distillate was aged (for at least part of its life) in new freshly charred oak barrels to showcase the creamy caramelized flavours which those new oak barrels bring.
Dr. Don Livermore (the Hiram Walker Distillery Master Blender) elaborated on the process for me when I had a chance to speak directly with him about Corby’s newest premium whisky:
“Without getting into specific recipes, Lot 40 is comprised of 100% of our (Hiram Walker) rye whisky. This whisky was made via pot distillation and subsequently aged in new casks. There is a proprietary proportion of distillers malt(s) used in the brewing process that allows for conversion of the rye grains into fermentable sugars. The brewing process is made in small batches according to the traditional recipes dating back to the early 1900s.”
This difference in fermentation, distillation and aging processes brings about a real difference in whisky style. Lot No. 40 isn’t a hard column still rye whisky which likes to take your tonsils for a ride. Instead this is a pot still rye whisky with a soft earthiness that runs through the whisky. More than any other whisky in my tasting flights for the Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown, the Lot No. 40 divided the judging panel. Two of the judges, (myself included) absolutely loved the soft pot still flavour. The other two judges, were somewhat baffled by where this spirit fit in to the landscape of Canadian Whisky.
What we decided was that the Lot No. 40 Copper Pot Still fit in as the Number 12 Canadian Whisky in my 2013 Christmas Advent Countdown:
“… the initial nose is filled with the scents and smells of honeycomb, freshly harvested rye, and freshly cut oak and cedar planks which are still seeping bits of sap from the wood grain. Caramel toffee and green tobacco, and even more fresh rye climb up out of the glass into the breezes …”
Lot 40 Single Copper Pot Still is a thoroughly enjoyable whisky which breaks new ground for the Canadian Whisky category.
Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here: The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies