Our friends at La Maison & Velier have recently launched a new line of whiskies bottled under the Ex Libris banner. The concept is that Ex Libris will showcase whiskies from all of the world, each to be named after a key literary work from its country of origin.
First out of the gate is a Canadian whisky distilled in 1982, making it (do the math) a whopping 40 years old. Made by the J.P Wiser organization, it is primarily made up of corn whisky aged in casks that previously held Speyside single malt Scotch, plus, intriguingly, a small percentage of rye whisky matured in quarter casks previously used for aging peated single malt Scotch. This bottling features a rich character with a luscious profile and beautiful vanilla tones. The apprentice in question is in honor of Mordecai Richler’s 1959 novel The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.
In my experience, Canadian whisky, especially old Canadian whisky, tends to be soft, doughy, and low in alcohol. At nearly 62% abv, this is a much different experience than you might be used to from those old Canadian Club releases that arrive at a regular cadence. The nose is rich and enveloping, offering notes of crusty blondies, dark chocolate, and a mint-adjacent spice. Sunny and toasty but laced throughout with wood, it lays heavy in the glass, evoking an earthiness along with some inevitable furniture polish elements.
The palate showcases the corn-meets-rye side of the whisky, kicking off with a sharp kick of wood, vanilla, and a peanut shell note, before a layer of smoke settles over the proceedings. Notes of malt syrup, fresh ginger, and a hint of creosote all meld in interesting and effective fashion. Some red fruit and cinnamon on the finish. There are a lot of layers to this whisky, but alas my sample was quite tiny and could only take me so far. Should more land on my doorstep, I’d eagerly tuck in for seconds.
A- / $660 (700ml)