The Yukon conjures up images of Cccccccold.... barren, dog sleds, and to some (we will say ignoramuses) igloos, burly men errr and women that don't shave, polar bears, and did I mention COLD!?
The reality is, yes some of that is mostly true. Does it get cold, hell yes! Coldest temperature ever recorded in North America -> Snag (1947) where it dipped to -63 Celsius (-81.4 Fahrenheit). But it also has summer just like the rest of Canada does where temperatures have climbed as high as 36 Celsius. Now for those of you who haven't brushed up on Canadian geography since elementary school. The Yukon is located at the far north western part of my beautiful country. Distance from my front door to the capital of Whitehorse is 6, 842km, hence I've never been there but I want to!
Well now it's even more on the bucket list because there is a distillery there called Yukon Brewing (and their sister Yukon Spirits) -> http://twobrewerswhisky.com/
Another great Canadian story of two good friends starting up a business together in 1997. First a brewery and then in 2009 they bought a still and starting making whisky spirits. Carefully crafted in very small batches and yes it's single malt. This year, 2016, marks the first year they are releasing their whisky to the market. Although no age statement appears on the bottles, it's approximately 6 to 7 years old.
Release Number 01 was limited to the Yukon and completely sold out in less than 6 hours. My friend Mark Manolis was the first to review it (just so happens he lives there)
Then the distillery announced that release #2 would hit the stores on March 5 in the Yukon and was branching out to select Alberta locations on March 10th. With only 1,650 bottles being made I scrambled to get in touch with someone from the Alberta #whiskyfabric to ensure I would get two bottles! (Amen for good friends!!!)
And as my luck would have it I was fortunate enough to not only receive a sample from Release 2 but also Release 1. I was over the moon and opened them immediately when they arrived (at 11:30am!!!)
I know some people haven't caught on to the fact that Canadian whisky is such a fantastic category right now. The truth of the matter is we are still such a young country and so our distilleries. We have them in almost every province and now also one of the territories. This thrills me deeply and the excitement I feel as a very proud Canadian whisky drinker is so apparent to my friends and followers that I must appear like a bit of a fanatic. Honestly, I don't care what people might want to call it, I am truly proud and not scared to say or show it. I will do everything I can to continue elevating the category and will bring to your attention the ones I feel (my own opinion don't forget) are doing it right and are worth buying!
Release #1 - Two Brewers Yukon Single Malt - Classic Release 01, 46% ABV.
Nose: Honey! Clean, slightly waxy with undertones of fresh ripe fruit: Melon, peaches and a little banana. With water became creamy and much more cereal appeared.
Palate: Whoa! Explosion of lemon custard and peppery/grapefruit snuck up on me. Made my mouth water profusely. With water, again even more creamy and then the oak appears. It's almost a bit "woodsy"... pine'ish maybe?
Finish: The "burn" doesn't linger but leaves a trace of parsley or mint that lasts. It's "green" but not at all unpleasant.
I like the 46%, I think that was an excellent choice for the ABV. It's not one dimensional. It's a very good whisky indeed! I think the people who were lucky enough to get a bottle will be pleasantly pleased!
Release #2 - Two Brewers Yukon Single Malt - Special Finishes Release 02, 46% ABV
Nose: Rich red cherries! Enticing, really grabs your attention. It's sweet but fresh, not "syrupy". My friend Oliver is going to kill me for using this word but it's truly a vibrant smelling whisky (sorry dude!) With water, the cherries disappeared completely and I started getting dried fruits like gold sultanas or dates. Still lovely on the nose!
Palate: This has more dimensions than Release 01, it's a bit more aggressive and drying in nature. I would almost bet there was a bit more virgin oak used on this... It's a powerful dram. Water totally calmed it down for me. Again became more like a cherry clafouti (Pastry/cherries) but tannic feeling completely gone.
Finish: This one lingers! Warming, spicy with baking spices like ginger, cloves and hints of hot cinnamon candies.
Having recently tried a variety of other 'new Canadian whiskies' at a recent whisky show I am more than happy to say these whiskies get a really high thumbs up! I can't wait to get my bottles of Release 02 and if, hmmm, anyone has an extra bottle of Release 01 they think they might want to get rid of, please keep me in mind.
Release 02 - Special Finishes is now available at several Alberta locations such as Chateau Louis Liquor in Edmonton, Wine and Beyond (also in Edmonton) as well as several Liquor Depot locations in Alberta. It retails for $100, it's a 750ml bottle and in my very happy but always humbled opinion: WORTH EVERY PENNY!
Where else in the world can you get a whisky that was made where the men are men, and so are the women! hehehe Yup, excuse the pun... but this distillery has indeed struck gold!
I very much look forward to the opportunity to try the next releases which will happen in 2016. A huge Maritime HUZZAH to Bob and Alan! Keep up the good work and making the rest of Canada extremely whisky proud!
Now... Alberta, get out there and get your bottle before it's gone!