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Canadian Mist

Review: Canadian Mist 85/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on July 31, 2011

Canadian Mist has been on the landscape of Canadian Whisky since the 1960’s when Barton Brands, Inc. of Chicago, contracted with a Quebec distillery, (Melcher’s), to supply bulk whisky to the United States for bottling and marketing. Based upon the potential of the new brand, Barton established their own plant in Collingwood, Ontario. Sales caught on south of the border very quickly and Canadian Mist was soon the second most popular Canadian Whisky brand bottled stateside. In 1971, Brown-Forman Corporation bought Canadian Mist, and with further investments in marketing and promotion, Canadian Mist’s sales quadrupled in the ’70s and ’80s, to more than four million cases.

The brand is still owned by Brown-Forman, and it is still produced in Collingwood, Ontario. The whisky has always been produced for the American market where sales have remained strong. It is a triple distilled blended grain whisky made from corn, malted barley and rye. The water source for the distillery is the waters of Georgian Bay, part of Lake Huron, one of the largest (and purest) fresh water lakes in the world. The whisky is aged in charred oak barrels and blended in Collingwood, Ontario under the supervision of the Canadian Government.

Unfortunately for me, in Canada (at least in my neck of the woods) the brand is relatively hard to find, and in fact I had never actually owned a bottle of Canadian Mist until I was given a sample bottle for this review by Brown Forman.

In the Bottle 4/5

The bottle of Canadian Mist which I was supplied with is pictured below. It is a dark brown bar room style bottle which is designed to be easy to hold, easy to pour, and easy to store on your bar-shelf. It is a satisfactory presentation although I was slightly unhappy with the screw top lid. The cap has only two threads, and lightly threaded enclosures always make me nervous.

I was sent a nice bottle shot (j peg) of the 1 litre configuration (shown to the right), and it is of the same basic style, however the one lite bottle is clear and the labeling  is more minimalistic. (I prefer the 750 ml bottle I was sent.)

In the Glass 8.5/10

The Canadian Mist displays a rich golden amber colour in the glass. A tilt and swirl of that glass reveals long slender droopy legs which move slowly down the sides of that glass back into the whisky.  When I brought the glass to my nose I immediately noticed a sweet (candied) corn (think Corn Pops cereal) aroma rising into the breezes which also carried some malty aromas. There is also a bevy of fruitiness carried into the air and the effect reminds me of a Speyside Scotch whisky.

I allowed the glass to decant, and the aroma remains relatively constant, although the corn does appear to soften somewhat allowing that fruity Speyside-like character to evolve further in the glass. As well, I began to notice some light bourbon notes building along with a nice accent of vanilla and almond.

In the Mouth 51.5/60

The initial entry in the mouth is mellow with a flavour of soft, lightly dank corn leading the way. There is a sweet tinge to the whisky with a honeyed spiciness quickly following making the whisky lively in the mouth but not sharp or uncomfortable. Vanilla and almond flavours swim in the currents, and that spicy fruitiness I noted on the nose continues to add a touch of Speyside character, especially with the light malty flavours I taste underneath.

As I allow the glass to decant I notice that the sweet dank corn flavour has been building throughout the tasting. This flavour has a punky earthy flavour similar to the underlying flavour of a Tennessee Corn Whisky. I am able to sip the whisky quite easily, and with an ice-cube some of the sweet tinges become more subdued and enjoyable. Rather than ginger-ale, I have an impulse to add a little cola to the glass and after I do, I find that at a fifty-fifty mix the Canadian Mist and Cola tastes just fine.

In the Throat 12.5/15

The Canadian mist finishes with a bit of peppery spice heating the mouth and the back of the tonsils. Waving corn fields and vanilla leave their imprint on the ending which has a light burn; but things are smoothed out easily with an ice-cube added to the glass.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

The Canadian Mist is a nice solid whisky. It carries more corn flavour than spicy rye, although the fruitiness which I likened in the review to a Speyside-like fruitiness does carry some aspects of spicy rye in the flavour. I suspect the accent on corn is a result of catering to American tastes for which the whisky was originally blended. But that does not mean that the whisky will not find a welcome home north of the border. It is a nicely crafted whisky with an easy-going nature that is easy to sip and even easier to mix. (That sounds pretty Canadian to me.)

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.

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Suggested Recipe:

The Canadian Mist Website has a great selection of recipes for the enjoyment of their whisky. However, I really liked the Canadian Mist when I mixed it with cola, and so I thought I should stay true to my own instincts. If you take the a typical whisky and cola highball and add bitters, it becomes a Buckeroo, and although the Buckeroo is typically made with bourbon, it tastes just as great made with Canadian Mist.

The Canadian Mist Buckeroo

1 1/2 oz Canadian Mist Whisky
dash Angostura Bitters
Ice
Cola
Slice of Lime for garnish

Build in a tall glass with ice
Complete with Cola
Garnish with a lime slice

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As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

4 Responses to “Canadian Mist”

  1. Steve K. said

    I have liked this brand since I found it in ’73 while in college at U Maine. It is so smooth and mellow. Rates very high in my book. I often have it straight, on the rocks rather than messing with that flavor.

  2. Mike said

    Good answer, Chip. Of course it follows that your reviews should reflect your opinion of the spirit rather than trying to describe some elusive measure of ‘intrinsic quality.’ I probably spend more time smelling whisky than drinking it but that is again a personal thing.

  3. Mike said

    Hey Chip, Collingwood recently became available in Ontario, which is said to be a sibling to Canadian Mist. I like it; it is soft and fruity at first but is backed by deep, toasty nut flavour and herbal bitterness. Any chance you’ll be reviewing that one soon?

    I prefer the more modern look of the bigger bottle, personally.

    A question for you (my apologies if I’ve already asked this): What is your logic in according a disproportionately small percentage for a whisky’s aroma in your overall score? Most reviewers treat aroma as being on par with taste in terms of importance, but you lump it in with the whisky’s colour and apparent viscosity. Don’t mean to criticize but I do find it odd. Of course I have always been a smell-oriented person so it would seem odd to me.

    • Hi Mike

      I’ll have to see about Collingwood, I do not think it is available in my area but the Brand owners may want a review.

      Your second question is a good one that I am surprised I am not asked more often. When I developed my system for reviews I looked at what others were doing, and I decided that primarily, other reviewer’s focus was on trying to tell their readers how good the spirit was from a quality point of view. I on the other hand try to tell my readers how much I like or enjoy the spirit..My scores in each section of the review are about how much I enjoy each part of the process and not about my perception of quality of the spirit I review (These are closely related but they are not the same.) My belief is that aroma and flavour are very much related, but it is when I am tasting the whisky that my enjoyment is at its very highest point. If facets of aroma are translating into great flavour then they are being accounted for when I actually taste them. I enjoy nosing a glass, but I enjoy tasting a whisky much much more than nosing it, hence my much higher weight to the taste than to the nose.

      Although I realize that most of my fellow reviewers believe the nose is as important as the taste, my own belief is that how a spirit tastes in the glass is much more important from the point of view of enjoyment, than how it smells. (I do talk about the visual appeal and the viscosity; but to me these are very minor facets of the spirit. When I score ‘in the glass’ it is the aroma that gets the lion’s share of my consideration.)

      Hopefully you can follow my convoluted answer but if you need something clarified just fire away.

 
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