Review: Ellington Blended Canadian Whisky (2018) and Ellington Reserve

Review: Ellington Blended Canadian Whisky (2018) and Ellington Reserve

We previously mentioned Ellington in our Drinking the Bottom Shelf series; the brand seems to be an exclusive bottling for Total Wine stores. We thought we’d take a deeper (or at least a separate) dive into this spirit, looking at a 2018 bottling — which is to say, a plastic mini we picked up at Total Wine for a buck — as well as the Ellington Reserve offering.

Ellington Blended Canadian Whisky (2018) – Unusual for Canadian whisky, the nose is surprisingly heavy with wood at first, becoming almost sawdust-like at times. As this blows off, I also pick up some curious notes of incense, lilac, and sandalwood. Lots of maple on the tongue presents a more iconic, Canadian character, the sweetness doing battle with an emerging raw alcohol note that slowly replaces the wood character. Hints of bubble gum and an emerging cola note sweeten up the finish further, though the somewhat throat-searing ethanol character starts to get a bit heavy here. I’m not sure if Ellington’s recipe (i.e. more oak extract) has changed in recent years, but the current incarnation is at least reasonably approachable. That said, serious drinkers won’t want to use this for anything other than a punch mixer. 80 proof. C+ / $11 [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]

Ellington Reserve Canadian Whisky 8 Years Old – Wow, a real age statement, and an 8 year old one, at that. That’s 2 dollars a year! Somewhat similar to the standard bottling, though here more of a raw alcohol note permeates the nose. The woodsy element is dialed back quite a bit, perhaps in the hopes that more sweetness would shine through. It never really does, its butterscotch notes veering more toward saccharine bubble gum. There’s a curious rose-dusted perfume note here that doesn’t really meld with everything else. Somehow I like this rather less than the cheap(er) stuff. 80 proof. C / $16 [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]

Ellington Blended Canadian Whisky (2018)




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. Gerrick Dytko on December 25, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    I bought a single shot in the small bottle and I swear I SMELT and TASTED some sort of cheap Cologne or perfume. I bought the trial size bottle from Total Wine and More in my hometown and the bottle was not tempered with. Horrible perfume smell left in the bottle too.

  2. Ray Kraft on February 2, 2021 at 5:12 am

    I worked for Sterling Vineyards long ago, one thing the experience taught me . . . no two people will ever taste anything exactly the same way . . . there is no way to know if what you taste is what I taste, and vice versa . . . I got some Ellington 8 Year at Total Wine a couple weeks ago and it blew me away . . . at the price a real steal . . . a lot of more expensive whiskeys I taste mostly wood, charged oak, here I pick up some beautiful barley and wheat . . . I think a lot of whiskey (and wine) reviews are hugely influence by price and name recognition . . . if I pay $100 for a bottle I am highly motivated to perceive it as much better than a $20 bottle . . . bias confirmation . . . I once bought 3 bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, from the same Napa Valley winery (which I will not name), the Cab was $120, the Merlot was $90. the Franc was $30 . . . the Cab at $120 was undrinkable . . . the Merlot was okay but I wouldn’t buy it again . . . the Franc . . . I went back and bought a case . . .

    The Ellington 8 is delicious, better than many whiskies I’ve paid several times as much for. Of course, you may taste it differently.

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