Featured at World Whisky Day 2017: 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.
Rant: O Canada…why can’t whisky ever be easy with you? One of the things we love about drinking whisky from around the world is the story that connects the drinker with the larger place. And you have the story part nailed down. We’re just a little frustrated when wanting to know specific details we’re used to seeing in other world areas, like what the mash bill is (we know you use rye, but what kinds? how much? are there other grains??), how long the whisky was finished, or even where the heck the whisky was distilled. But maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe that’s not a part of the story you want to share or feel is worth sharing. Your prerogative. However, we feel those are details are worth knowing because there’s a growing population of global consumers who want to know and are used to knowing. Transparency of various kinds is a key part of many whiskies’ stories, which they happily share. And you don’t, which sort of leaves us wondering if we should assume the worst. To be clear, we aren’t picking on Pike Creek specifically; this is something we’ve run across in trying to research details on virtually every Canadian whisky we had for World Whisky Day, and have just reached a point where something needed to be said.
Distillery: Corby Distillers
Age: 10 years
Location: Pike Creek, Ontario, Canada
Maturation: Rum casks
Nose: Ginger bread, spice, rum sauce, syrup, cola
Palate: Spice, rye, vanilla, caramel
Finish: Cinnamon, rum, caramel
Comments: For those new to Canadian whisky, especially if coming from the world of scotch or Irish whiskies, this is a good, affordable place to start.
Adam – Very cool to have a Canadian whisky trying something that’s been popular with other whiskies like scotch and Irish whiskies, namely cask finishing. Rum can definitely be hit or miss for me and Pike Creek seems to do a fine job with their blend. There’s a nice mix of vanilla and caramel from the wood to go along with a good bite from whatever amount of rye they used. All these elements play second fiddle to the rum at times, though usually it is not problematic. The rum provides a heavy influence, and I’d wonder at what it was hiding if the spirit weren’t sold with the age statement it is. The mouth feel is thick and reminds me of syrup. Almost like medicine from when you were a kid, but the good kind that you kept trying to break into the drug cabinet for. There are some nice spices and the mixture ring some bells of a bakery in my memory. The fresh grains, the cinnamon and spices, the warmth in your mouth and chest. Even better, this dram is accessible both in distribution and very attractive to your wallet. The smell of rye, which is usually buried by other elements, is strongest in an empty glass after the sweetness has faded.
Meghan – I’ve had bad rum and really good rum; I’ve had not great rum cask whisky and then pretty good rum cask whisky. Pike Creek falls on the pretty good side. The natural sweetness and inoffensive nature of Canadian whisky goes nicely with a rum cask. The nose is a bit too sweet and maple-y for me but the palate has a nice touch of spice with a hint of grain as the backbone. Kind of like cinnamon spice oatmeal (but like homemade, not the Quaker instant flavor). The finish is short but pleasant. It’s a light but well-flavored whisky that should please both regular whisky drinkers (for the variety) and newcomers to the dram.
Michael – I get a lot of caramel in the middle, along with those spices you associate with a cinnamon roll. Like a breakfast baked good.
Mary-Fred – I like it. I definitely got the sense of baked goods, the sweet and the butter and the spice. I like the gingerbread analogy.
Caitlin – It’s a little like a cinnamon roll.
Ben – It’s breakfast sweet. Sweet breads or a spice cake. I have mixed feelings on this. I never really liked rum, so I feel like I don’t like this as much, but I don’t dislike it like I dislike rum. I feel like I’m getting some of that rum flavor and nose mixed in with something I’m enjoying. I’m not sure how I like that balance. I would check my mood ring if I had one.