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Last Mountain Canadian Rye Whisky

Review: Last Mountain Canadian Rye Whisky   (83.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on February 23, 2014

The Last Mountain Distillery is part of a small wave of Micro-Distillers which have began to appear on the Canadian landscape over the last few years. These are small ‘mom and pop’ operations which make their spirits in small batches usually only a barrel or two at a time. This particular distillery is located in Lumsden, Saskatchewan, and it is owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Colin and Meredith Schmidt.

Colin Schmidt took a rather round about road into the distilling business as his original dream was to play pro hockey. He was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in 1992 and signed his first pro contract in 1996. Unfortunately Colin’s pro hockey experience was brief, cut off by a few shoulder injuries after a brief stint with the big club playing what Colin referred to as “left bench”.

Fortunately for us, Colin had aspirations beyond a hockey career, which included starting up his own small distillery. It was a few years later, after Colin left hockey behind, that he and his wife, Meredith began to look for business opportunities in Saskatchewan and the idea of starting up their own micro-distillery still appealed strongly to both of them. To make a long story short, in August of 2010, the ambitions and hard work of Colin and Meredith paid off when they opened Saskatchewan’s first micro-distillery, in Lumsden, Saskatchewan, called the Last Mountain Distillery.

In the early stages of the development of their rye whisky, I was sent a sample bottle and asked to publish my thoughts here on my website, (see article here). It is almost 2 years later, and I am happy to report that the Last Mountain Canadian Rye Whisky (bottled at 40 % abv. and made from prairie wheat) is in full production.

Last Mountain 1In The Bottle 4/5

Last Mountain Canadian Rye Whisky arrives in a tall, elegant slender bottle (see left). These tall bottles seem to be popping up all over nowadays, and I have been forced to adjust my liquor shelves making them taller to accommodate the growing numbers of these bottles. Each of the Last Mountain bottles is identified with a lot number on the back label of the bottle. The sample bottle I received was from Lot # 072913 which I assume means that the bottle was filled on July 29, 2013.

The bottle is sealed with a nice tight synthetic cork. The only drawback to the presentation is lack of ‘pop’ in the label. It’s not that the label is unattractive or anything like that, it just doesn’t stand out quite as well next to some of those other bottles I have on my shelf. Given that this is a brand new whisky from a brand new micro-distiller I am more than satisfied.

In the Glass  8.5/10

The whisky presents itself in my glass with as a golden honey coloured spirit which brings nice dusty dry rye grain into the air as soon as it is poured. When the glass is given a slow tilt and twirl I see that the spirit leaves a light sheen on the inside of the glass, the crest of which releases small drooplets which form slender legs which run a moderate pace back down into the glass.

The dusty dry rye continues to pour out of the glass with smells of freshly baled straw, sanded oak, sandalwood and fresh tobacco running alongside. Joining are sweeter accents of butterscotch and honey. As the glass sits some fruity aromas develop as well with canned apricots and peaches, a few raisins and a hint of gooseberry jam bringing more sweetness to the nose.

In the Mouth 50.5/60

The whisky presents more grainy sweetness in the delivery (with very obvious butterscotch overtones) than I was expecting and perhaps more spiciness as well. Rye and wood spices seem to be melding into flavours of canned fruit (especially apricots) and a touch of sweet and sour pickle juice seems to be hinted at. Subsequent visits to the glass reveal some underlying dry fruit as well as perhaps a touch of charred marshmallow and cocoa.

As you can probably tell, I am enjoying the Last Mountain rye which seems to have a more complexity than a three-year-old spirit ought to have. Perhaps there is some older wheat whisky in the blend that I am unaware of.

In the Throat 12.5/15

There is a touch of harshness in the exit, and I suspect that I noticed it earlier as well. This is not by any means a burning harshness which would cause you to gasp, rather it is a light astringency running throughout reminding me that at least a portion of the blend has not been aged longer than 3 years. Despite the light astringency, I enjoy the flavours within the exit, as the whisky finishes with a nice touch of caramel and some lovely tobacco flavours.

The Afterburn 8/10

I am unabashedly enthusiastic about the Last Mountain Canadian Rye Whisky. Colin and Meredith Schmidt are producing a quality whisky in their small Saskatchewan Micro Distillery. Although the spirit is relatively young as far a Canadian Whisky goes, the moderately complex (and tasty flavour) indicates that perhaps Colin’s special aging process has placed him upon the correct path for even better things to come.

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:

Rye and Soda SAM_1043Rye and Soda

2 oz Canadian Rye Whisky
2 or 3 Large Ice-cubes
Splash of Soda
Slice of Lime

Add the Ice-cubes to a rocks glass
Pour the Whisky over the ice
Add a splash of Ginger Ale
Garnish with a lime slice

Please enjoy responsibly!

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Icy Breeze
a recipe by Arctic Wolf

2 oz Canadian Whisky
3/4 oz grapefruit juice
3/4 oz Orange Mango Soda
1/2 oz Triple Sec
1/2 oz Sugar Syrup

3-5  large cubes of ice

Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth
Serve in a cocktail glass
Garnish with a wedge of grapefruit if desired

Remember the aim of my blog is to help you drink better.. not to help you drink more!

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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)

 
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