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Tangle Ridge (Bourbon Casked) Canadian Whisky

Review: Tangle Ridge (Bourbon Casked) Canadian Whisky  85.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted January 12, 2014

Tangle Ridge is produced by Alberta Distillers for Beam Global in Calgary, Alberta Canada. The whisky is named for a limestone wall located near the Columbia Icefields in Jasper National Park (apparently discovered by Mary Schaeffer, one of Canada’s first female explorers). According to the press information I received Tangle Ridge Canadian Whisky is produced from a 10 Year Old – 100 % rye whisky which is blended with a hint of sherry for added richness. The resulting whisky is then recasked in ex Bourbon barrels for an additional aging time to allow the sherry and the Rye flavours to marry in the barrel.

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In the Bottle 4.5/5

Tangle Ridge is presented in the long-necked stubby bottle shown to the left. The bottle is distinctive and functional. The long neck is easy to grab, and the stubby bottom gives the bottle added stability on the bar or table. The colour scheme is attractive and the back of the bottle contains additional information about the whisky.

In the Glass 8.5/10

Once poured into the whisky glass, Tangle Ridge displays a medium copper tone while firm indications of honey sweetened oak spices puff up into the air above the glass. Initially, I detect sweet corn, butterscotch, brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon which all seem to be drifting in the breezes above the glass mixing with the oak spices. However, as I gave the glass time to breathe I began to notice telltale dusty dry rye spices struggling to push through.

As I allowed more time the rye gained momentum bringing strong fall harvest scents of fresh grain and chaff which built up alongside the corn and sweet baking spices. Orange marmalade, apricot jelly, and bits of dry fruit began to evolve from the glass as well. The whisky is a treat to sniff, although I admit it took a full ten minutes for the full spectrum of aroma to be realized. (Time well spent.)

In the Mouth 51.5/60

The whisky carries a strong bourbon flair with corn and honeycomb combining with flavours of brown sugar and butterscotch steeped in peppery wood-spice and cinnamon. Just as it was on the nose, the whisky flavour evolves in the glass if we allow it time to settle. Vanilla melds into the flavours of butterscotch and cinnamon, and a rich fruit-filled rye begins to assert itself. Canned fruit and marmalade, hints of ripe grapes and dry raisins, and a touch of marzipan rounds out the flavour profile.

Despite the 40 % alcohol by volume which the label declares, the whisky carries a lot of oak spice and rye heat forward across the palate. In fact, when I allowed a few friends of mine to sample this whisky blind, they asked me whether I was serving them a new Canadian overproof.

In the Throat  12.5/15

The finish is of medium length with firm indications of butterscotch and vanilla. Some heated wood spice and cinnamon taps at the tonsils leaving a lingering glow of heat.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

This is one of those whiskies which grows in the glass rewarding those who are patient, and disappointing those to quick to bring the spirit to their lips. The rye grain requires time to evolve and if you sip too quickly it can be missed altogether. But if you are patient, the reward is well worth it; because as the rye builds, so does the whisky. My temptation here is to score the whisky even higher than I have, but in the end I feel that my score of 85.5/100 is about right. This one is a good sipper; but please give the glass about ten minutes or so before you begin to sip.

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

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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)

3 Responses to “Tangle Ridge (Bourbon Casked) Canadian Whisky”

  1. Hey Chip. I’m so happy you finally reviewed this whisky on your blog. I’m a huge fan of Alberta Springs and both Alberta Premium and Dark Horse rank up there as well in my top Canadian whiskies. I live in Quebec and this province is a true insult to our country’s whisky selection. The LCBO doesn’t yet carry the Tangle Ridge so I have no way of procuring it. But your review makes me even more envious of getting a bottle added to my collection!

  2. Mike said

    I tried this once and thought it was decent. Interesting to note that some critics (Jim Murray not least among them) considers this one of the worst whiskies our country produces.

    • I noted in my review that it took a full ten minutes for the rye notes to evolve. It was as if the rye had to break though the sherry influence before it could manifest itself. I wonder if perhaps Jim Murray thought that the mingled rye and sherry just didn’t work well together.

      (I suspect I would have liked the whisly much more as a 100 % rye whisky without the added touch of Sherry as well. But even though I prefer my rye unsherried, I found I could still appreciate this whisky on its own merit.)

 
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