Pike Creek is a relatively newer Canadian spirit that first saw light of day several years ago when the spirit was finished in Port casks and released by Corby Distillers along with Lot 40. After a couple of years, reportedly due to sourcing issues, the Port casks were replaced with rum barrels. This attention to finishing is in part due to their master blender, Dr. Don Livermore, whose PhD is appropriately enough in wood science. This focus on the wood gives the distillery another element to make their whisky stand out. Pike Creek has been labeled by some reviewers as a “high-end” whisky, and maybe that is true when compared to regular Canadian blends, but we sure hope this attention to details becomes the new normal.
J. P. Wiser was a Canadian businessman in the late 1800s who went about building a spirits company centered around whisky. A lot of the mythology around Wiser involves the dedication to the craft of making whisky, specifically that the time it takes to mature is more than worth it. Wiser’s company has been bought and sold a few times since he founded it and the brand is now part of the Hiram Walker portfolio, which in turn is part of the Pernod Ricard conglomerate. As with many, though not all, Canadian whiskies, any information about the blend or maturation is very difficult to come by.
Loved or hated, flavored whiskies have been on the market for quite some time in various guises. This particular dram is pretty unique. In Canada, it is called Dark Horse but a conflict of trade names in the US means the version we picked up goes by Dark Batch. Made by the largest rye whisky producer in North America, it is a 50-50 blend of two Canadian ryes, aged 6 and 12 years. This rye blend makes up 91% of the total. Another 8% is Old Grandad bourbon, with the last 1% sherry. Yes, not ex-bourbon or ex-sherry casks for finishing, but actual bourbon and sherry. This whisky is so unlike anything we’ve ever tasted, we simply had to try it for ourselves. Of note, the majority of its marketing promotes it primarily for cocktails.