Review: Found North First Date Canadian Whisky

Review: Found North First Date Canadian Whisky

The poet Justin Timberlake once quipped “What goes around comes around.” Early American whiskey culture revolved around rye and bourbon. However, the long thirst from 1920 to 1933 began a shift in American drinking habits. Legitimate and well-aged bourbon and rye were harder to come by during Prohibition. Lighter whiskies smuggled in from Canada and Scotland were much more available for a substantial amount of time, and American palates began gravitating toward lighter Scotch and Canadian whiskies. It remained this way for decades. The growing preference for lighter spirits also led to the rise in the popularity of vodka.

Canadian whisky has done very well in American markets following the repeal of Prohibition. However, with the relatively recent resurgence in the popularity of more bold bourbon and rye, many American whiskey enthusiasts now feel Canadian whisky to is too light in character and frequently too low in proof. Good news: Found North Whisky (an American brand that sources, blends, and often finishes a variety of well-aged Canadian whiskies) serves as the missing link between Canadian whisky and the heavier profiles with higher proof that many modern American whisky enthusiasts crave.

Found North has released several batches of Canadian whisky and has moved into the arena of doing private blends for stores and whisky clubs. The distillery recently partnered with a blossoming web-based whisky club called The Prime Barrel, and the end result is a cask strength custom blend dubbed “First Date.” Before determining the prime blend for bottling, The Prime Barrel sampled a dozen other blends. This one has a backbone of rye finished in Muscat, Ruby Port, and Sauternes casks. To add complexity, the blend also incorporates a good amount of 22-year-old corn whisky matured in new wood and a dash of 25-year-old corn whisky matured in Hungarian oak. The final blend was bottled at cask strength, coming in at 125.2 proof.

The construct of the blend is fascinating, but how did it turn out?  Let’s find out!

Much of what we taste or think we taste is shaped by what we smell. First Date’s nose is one to savor. The initial aroma is that of an Italian almond cookie. There’s a slightly sweet and nutty nature that is intermingled with some breadiness. The cookie transitions to a familiar cinnamon, but a bit more subdued, and the cinnamon note is far from overpowering. If a scent can carry weight, First Date has a thick nose as molasses arrives at the party. As the party continues, plum and rye bread arrive fashionably late. First Date’s nose makes an excellent first impression — complex, with no single note out of balance.

The thick molasses note from the nose kicks off the palate experience. The palate is spicy but not unbalanced as allspice and the general rye spice mingle together. This spice is nicely counterbalanced by a slightly sweet wildflower honey aspect. On the midpalate, the age of the whisky shows up as tannins express themselves as mild, sweet tobacco, and the influence from the wine casks is made known by way of a prune note. Matching the nose, no single note seems out of balance. On the tongue, the whisky is oily and highly viscous.

The finish brings an array of notes that take a detour from the nose and palate. For the first time, caramel is present, along with a noticeable nutty quality that feels like almond, but not exactly the almond cookie from the nose. Vanilla is present, but not particularly heavy. The wine casks again influence the finish with a simmering prune note. Even the best of parties must eventually come to an end. Found North and The Prime Barrel missed the memo that at closing time you can’t stay here, because the finish certainly hangs on for a considerable amount of time. American whiskey enthusiasts often look for a “Kentucky hug” on the finish, but will no doubt be pleased with this Canadian hug.

Found North and The Prime Barrel worked well together to create an excellent blend of Canadian whisky that will appeal to most whiskey lovers, and especially American enthusiasts who crave heavier spirits with higher proof. For those who think they don’t like Canadian whisky, there’s an excellent chance that First Date can change your mind. If you’ve had less than enticing experiences with Canadian whisky in the past, Found North is Canadian whisky you’ll want to revisit.

125.2 proof.

A / $139 /

Found North First Date




Jacob is a lover of books on American beverage alcohol history and runs Coming Whiskey on Instagram.

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