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Pike Creek 10 Year Old Canadian Whisky

Review: Pike Creek 10 Year Old Canadian Whisky   85.5/100
a review By Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted July 19, 2013

Pike Creek is a 10-year-old Canadian whisky produced from a double distillation in small column copper stills, and aged in ‘first-use’, white oak bourbon barrels. (The term ‘first use’ refers to an oak barrel which has been used only once previously, in this case to age American bourbon whiskey.) Once aged and blended, the whisky is finished in vintage port wine barrels.

Pike Creek was originally released in the late 1990s as part of Corby’s initiative to introduce new high-end Canadian whiskies into the North American market. Unfortunately the whisky was discontinued after only a brief time as consumers seemed uninterested in a the new premium product. The whisky was re-introduced last year as the profile of Canadian Whisky has recently undergone a bit of a renaissance world-wide and demand for whisky at the premium end of the market has seen a sharp increase.

In the Bottle 4.5/5

The bottle presentation for Pike Creek Whisky is shown to the left. The bottle is both appealing and eye-catching. I think the colour scheme works well on the label as does the overall brand messaging. I am not really sure what the significance of the paper cord wrapped around the neck is; but overall, the long-necked squat bottle looks good on my whisky shelf.

This ten-year old whisky is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

In the Glass  8.5/10

When poured into the glass, the Pike Creek whisky displays a very nice dark mahogany/copper colour with obvious tinctures of red in the whisky. The immediate nose is of caramelized  brown sugars, rye grain, field berries (blackberries and raspberries) and bits of red licorice. Some wood spices build in the glass as it breathes (or maybe I just took my time about noticing them). I also seem to sense a bit of dark fruit and chocolate similar to Christmas fruitcake in the air.

All in all the nose is pleasing, although I admit I sense a vague discordant note in the air which has caused me to drop my score just a touch.

In the Mouth 51/60

When I tasted this whisky in a blind format last fall, I remarked upon the fruitiness of the spirit with all those sherry-like flavours of ripe cherries, black berries and dry fruit. Knowing as I do now that the whisky was finished in Vintage Port barrels my formerly blind observations make sense to me. It is the fruitiness of the Port barrels leaving their mark upon the whisky. These lovely berry flavours are offset by oak spice, ginger and some scattered white pepper in a whisky which is very pleasant. I also taste mild toffee, a few scattered baking spices, and a building oak presence which grows spicier as you sip on the whisky.

Although the flavours are lovely, I was mildly disappointed with what I perceived as a lack of  balance between the spiciness of the whisky (the wood and rye spices), and its fruity berry-like nature. I think I would prefer a touch more sweetness (more toffee or caramel flavours) to bridge what I see as two pleasant, but separate flavour characteristics of spice and fruit.

In the Throat 13/15

In the exit, flavours of ginger, white pepper, cloves and cinnamon all grab at the tonsils while lingering on the palate are flavours of field berries, tart apple, dried apricots and dates. The spice builds which means the lingering fruit is just a little harder to discern with each subsequent sip.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

The Pike Creek 10 Year Old Whisky is a very interesting spirit. I found I enjoyed the overall flavour just a little more each time I tasted it. Perhaps I just had to adjust to the unusual dichotomy of spicy and fruit flavours. I guess I did not adjust fully, because I never could find exactly the right balance between the two in my glass. Nevertheless my scores did creep up during my tasting sessions, and perhaps with more time I would adjust a little more.

My score of 85.5/100 reflects how I feel today at the end of my tasting sessions, which is how I will leave things, as speculating on how I will adjust in the future is just that, speculation.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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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