Masterson’s Straight Wheat Whiskey
Review: Masterson’s 12-Year-Old Straight Wheat Whiskey 89/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on July 19, 2014
Masterson’s Straight Wheat Whiskey is distilled and aged in Canada, for a California company located in Sonoma, called 35 Maple Street. As a straight whiskey, the spirit must be barreled and aged in new American Oak; however this Masterson’s whiskey also holds the distinction of being perhaps the only Canadian whiskey which is distilled on a copper pot still from a mash of 100 % wheat grain. It is aged for 12 years, bottled at 50% alcohol by volume, and is apparently (like the rest of the Masterson’s line-up) named for the famous frontier lawman, William “Bat” Masterson.
In the Bottle 5/5
Masterson’s Whiskey arrives in the handsome bottle shown to the left. Like the previously reviewed Masterson’s Straight Rye Whiskey and the Masterson’s Straight Barley Whiskey, this bottle deserves a perfect score for presentation. The look of the bottle is unique, and it instantly generates conversation with its homage to an original Canadian, Bat Masterson (gunfighter and lawman). A solid cork closure tops everything off.
In the Glass 9/10
When poured into the glass, the whiskey shows itself as a pale honey gold spirit which, when I tilt and twirl my glass, deposits nice fat droppy legs on the inside of my glencairn. These legs slowly crawl back into the whisky.
Although the whisky is distilled from a 100 % wheat mash, the nose is undeniably rye-like, being full of sandalwood and rye spices. Unlike the Masterson’s Straight Rye Whisky (reviewed here) which was to some extent dominated by fresh oak to the detriment of the whisky; this 12-year-old straight wheat whisky maintains its “Canadian Whisky” character with the smooth aromas of a rye-like wheat grain on full display. Mild butterscotch and toffee aromas mingle with the wood and spices, and subtle bits of dry fruit and orange peel drifting into the breezes for those who are patient enough to notice. As I let the glass sit, the oak builds up just a little giving us some hints of bitter sap, poplar wood and dark chocolate. I also notice very light baking spices with vanilla, cinnamon and hints coarse yellow/brown sugar.
In the Mouth 53/60
Although there is an omnipresent flavour of fresh wood and spice which permeates the Masterson’s Straight Wheat Whisky, these oak flavours do not grow to such an extent that they dominate the other flavour nuances within the spirit. The whisky brings forward a subtle sweetness of yummy butterscotch flavours and oodles of dusty rye-like wheat spices which are melded into the oak character. The result is a very smooth whisky with a beguiling flavour profile. I taste butterscotch, fresh grain, peppery wood sap, orange zest, and rye-like ginger and cardamom spices slowly evolving into old-fashioned toffee, honeycomb, marmalade, and baking spices as I sip from the glass. There are also hints of bittersweet chocolate, canned apricots and a touch of dry fruit.
In the Throat 13/15
The finish is of medium length with spicy rye-like ginger and bits of citrus zest that linger within a lightly sweet butterscotch toffee. Maybe I taste echoes of chocolate lingering, or maybe the tasting notes supplied on the 35 Maple Street Website have subliminally affected my perceptions. (Sometimes it is hard to tell.)
The Afterburn 9/10
As I reflect upon this review, I realize that I have not commented sufficiently upon 35 Maple Street’s wise decision to bottle the Masterson’s Straight Wheat Whisky at 50 % abv. This decision was a great one, because in my tasting experiences I have found that wheat tends to create a very smooth whisky which in this case maintained its smoothness even at the high alcohol content. However it is also be true to say that in those same tasting experiences I have found that wheat whiskies tend to be less complex and robust than barley or rye whiskies. By bottling at a higher proof the guys at 35 Maple Street were able to capitalize on the smoothness of the wheat, while at the same time bringing more of the grains subtle flavour forward. The result is a very pleasant whisky indulgence; and in fact, the Straight Wheat Whisky is by far my favourite whisky expression in the Masterson’s family.
You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
The Old Fashioned Cocktail
2 oz Masterson’s Straight Wheat Whisky
1 tsp simple syrup
1 dash bitters
2 large ice cubes
1 twist of lemon or orange peel
Add the first three ingredients to a rocks glass over the ice cubes
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink. (This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink)
Drop the peel into the cocktail if desired.
Note: If you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!
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)