Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still Canadian Whisky (2012 Edition)
Review: Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still Canadian Whisky (2012 Edition) 93/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published February 22, 2013
Late in October, of 2012, I was able to have a one on one meeting with Hiram Walker Distillery Master Blender, Dr. Don Livermore. It was supposed to be an interview, but instead, it morphed into an information session where Dr. Livermore began to teach me about all things pertaining to Canadian Whisky with a particular emphasis on how they do things at the Hiram Walker Distillery.
Dr. Livermore is one of the foremost experts on Canadian Whisky. A graduate (with an MSc. and a PhD. in Brewing and Distilling) of Heriot Watt University, he started his career with Hiram Walker and Sons Ltd. as a microbiologist in quality assurance. Then, after working Research and Product Development for 11 years, he was named the Distillery’s Master Blender in January 2012. Don’s additional expertise includes the implementation of analytical techniques using infrared sensors in the brewing and distillation of alcohol, and he has authored a chapter in The Alcohol Textbook – 4th Edition, which is a standard industry reference book for engineers and scientists. Basically what I am saying is that Dr. Don Livermore knows what he is doing, and I was very fortunate to be given such an opportunity to talk and learn from him.
One of the many things we talked about was the re-release of Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still Canadian Whisky (2012 Edition). Dr. Livermore, told me the whisky was first released in the 1990′s as an upscale connoisseur’s whisky for the North American market. Alas, timing is everything, and according to Don, the whisky never really caught on as the market wasn’t quite ready for such a new style of Canadian Whisky. With the new upsurge of interest in Canadian Whisky across North America (and in particular at the premium end of the market), Corby (the owner of the Wiser’s Brand), is optimistic that the time for this whisky has finally arrived.
Lot No. 40 is, make no mistake about it, a new style of Canadian Whisky. It is made with locally grown rye which has been distilled upon a single 12,000-litre copper pot still. The final whisky is aged in new oak barrels to showcase the creamy caramelized flavours which new freshly charred oak barrels bring. Dr. Livermore elaborated on the process for me:
“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.”
Dr. Livermore ended my information session by presenting me with my own bottle of Lot. No. 40 which he personally signed. Although it is some months later, I have finally come to provide a review here on my website.
In the Bottle 4.5/5
It is tough to take nice pictures in the winter when the light is bad, and my rather meager skills as a photographer are exposed. Thus rather than even try to show you my photo of my nice autographed bottle, I settled for a bottle shot which I found on the Corby Website. (As indicated earlier Lot No. 40 is a Corby Brand)
The bottle is basically the same as the original Lot No. 40 presentation from the 1990s. A neck ringer on the label tells me that this is a pure pot still rye whisky distilled on a copper pot still, and the label distinguishes this version of Lot No. 40 from the earlier bottling making it clear this is the 2012 edition. The whisky is bottled a 43 % alcohol by volume, and topped with a corked closure.
In the Glass 9.5/10
Once poured into the glass the whisky displays a rich amber/copper colour. When I give my glass a light tilt and a slow swirl I notice the whisky seems to have a soft texture that coats the inside of the glass with a thick sheen of buttery whisky. 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.
As the glass breathes, smells of oak and wood sap gain more expression. I notice the rye now carries impressions of fresh fruit (green grapes and orange peel zest in particular). Whereas most Canadian whiskies have a clean hard rye scent, the impression I receive from the glass is of a much more earthy and complex whisky. We have the sharp spicy scents of new wood and rye, but they are softened by the additional aromas of damp grain laying upon freshly turned soil, and smells of a wet poplar trees after a rainfall. Freshly broken almond shells, a firm vanilla sensation and a sweet impression of maple and cocoa round out the aroma which is rich and complex.
In the Mouth 56/60
The whisky has all the flavour that the nose implies with fresh new oak and lots of rye blazing a trail of flavour through the mouth. Bits of fruit (grapes and applesauce), some spicy wood sap, green tobacco, and orange peel join in the onrush of whisky flavour that threatens to batter the taste buds. Tempering the full throttle of oak and rye however, are sweet accents of honeycomb, toffee, maple and hints of chocolate. Subsequent tastings allowed me to discover soft, earthy flavours of dark fruit, bread dough, and creamy impressions of butterscotch pudding. The overall flavour is perhaps a little daunting in its complexity; but at the same time it is very pleasing.
In the Throat 13.5/15
The whisky carries sweet sensations of toffee and maple through the exit along with the sharp spicy flavour of new oak. But it is the flavour of toasted rye grain which has the last word lingering on the palate as the maple and the spice slowly fade away.
The Afterburn 9.5/10
Lot No. 40 is a great whisky, and sampling it for this review was delightful. The flavour of new oak (which along with rye) is at the forefront. Although a few other brands of Canadian Whisky have experimented with new oak, (I am thinking Masterson’s, Confederation Oak, Caribou Crossing and Wiser’s Legacy), the Lot No. 40 is really the first one (in my opinion) to get the right balance between the sweet (caramel and maple flavours) and the sharp spice (that wood sap flavour). The result is a thoroughly enjoyable whisky which breaks new ground for the Canadian Whisky Category.
You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
I am always asked what my numbers actually mean. In order to provide clarification, you may (loosely) interpret the scores 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 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)