Black Velvet 3 year old Canadian whisky

Black Velvet aged 3 years (40% alc./vol. (80 proof))

November 20, 2011

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Candy, sweet, dark fruit, cream sherry, pepper and hot spices, dusty, floral rye, spirit, slight zestiness, and hints of fresh wood. Fruity and Spicy. ★★★

There are three whisky distilleries in Alberta. This may sound like quite a few until you realize that Alberta is more than 8 times the size of Scotland. Scotland, of course, boasts more than 100. The most southerly of these Alberta distilleries, Black Velvet (formerly known as Palliser), is located in Lethbridge, not far from the famed desert-like Alberta Badlands and the Milk River Hoodoos on the Montana border. This is the parched, rugged landscape of western movies and rot-gut-slugging cowboys. Talk about location!

Named for the top selling Canadian whisky it produces (the rankings change from year to year), Black Velvet Distillery takes a weekly delivery of between eight and ten rail carloads of corn (maize). And each week, two rail tanker cars of mature Black Velvet Canadian whisky leave the plant for bottling in California and Kentucky.

Black Velvet whisky for Canada and the rest of the world sees glass right at the distillery, but transportation is such a large component of the cost of making whisky that a market as huge as America is best served by bulk shipments. American consumers also demand a slightly different flavour profile than whisky-lovers in the rest of the world. Consequently, each year The Black Velvet Distillery blends close to 100 tanker carloads of Black Velvet whisky according to a special recipe, to be shipped to the U.S. Well, with 100 tanker loads a year, it can’t be considered that special, but certainly, the U.S.-version of Black Velvet is unique to the American market.

Nose: The dark ripe fruit that greets the nose soon turns to cotton candy, hard candy, and marshmallows. Then the vaguest hint of rubber dissolves back into fruity notes, including sherry, peaches, dried dark fruits, fruit juice, and prune juice. Rye expresses itself loudly and clearly as dry cereal grain, dustiness, and slight floral notes. In addition to its wood- and grain-derived flavours, a good mixing whisky needs to retain a bit of spirit character, and though it does not intrude, this one certainly does. Yes, this is a mixer, not a sipper, but don’t add that ginger ale right away. Waiting just a few minutes will be rewarded with slight sawdust notes and developing woodiness. Although both are three years old, this U.S. version of Black Velvet is somewhat more expressive than the austere, almost elegant Deluxe.

Palate: A first impression of sweet caramel becomes a lasting one, while other flavours come and go. But the sweetness also has candy-like, almost sugar-like qualities. A lush mouthfeel, which is surprising in a three-year-old whisky, has both creamy and oily sensations. The rubber from the nose briefly crosses the palate then quickly gives way to increasingly hot and lingering pepper, complemented by hot ginger that heats the sides of your mouth.

It’s a fruity whisky whose fruitiness goes in two directions: dark sweet fruits, fruit juice, over-ripe fruit, and cream sherry, then a bitter grapefruit zest and oranges. Overall this whisky is sweeter than Black Velvet Deluxe, and has just a little bit more of everything, but ultimately the candy flavours overshadow, pushing it slightly out of balance. Ahh, a dash of ginger ale will soon fix that!

Finish: Medium-short and fading. Peppery with lots of heat. Ripe black fruit, caramel, and burnt sugar. Just a hint of fresh-sawn wood before it fades out with a lime zestiness.

Empty Glass: Quite closed, but there are suggestions of stale beer, fruit juice, dust, flowers, wood, and toffee.

Not available in Canada, but about $10.00 in the USA.

Recommended. ★★★

History of Black Velvet and its distilleries (Gilbey, Diageo/Valleyfield, Schenley, Palliser) here.

Black Velvet Deluxe reviewed here.
Black Velvet Reserve 8 year old reviewed here.


Comments

14 Responses to “Black Velvet aged 3 years (40% alc./vol. (80 proof))”

  1. Barbara Thomas:

    Hi. I seem to remember a billboard that came out in the southern california area, with a little blond girl on it. Do you happen to have a picture of that billboard. It would have been mid 60 ish? Thanks.

    • Davin:

      Sorry, I don’t have a copy. Black Velvet is famous for it’s glamourous models. I bet you could find it on e-Bay under Canadian whisky.

    • warwizzle dodds:

      i was just looking at that image on the web. the girl is cheryl tiegs. and the photo is from 1975

  2. The Hamer:

    I understand that Christie Brinkley and possibly Cheryl Tiegs were featured in BV ads in the 1970′s. Black Velvet is my go to whiskey for making a Manhattan since I cannot get Alberta Premium down in the States. We promise to keep sending corn if you promise to keep sending the Black Velvet!

  3. scooter:

    I am looking for a list/pics of BV models over the years. I once met a Rebecca Schmidt at a Grateful Dead show in Wisconsin. She was supposedly one of those models. Trying to find out if that was true and a pic of her. I have searched google but no luck. Anyone know?

    • Davin:

      Try searching “Canadian whisky” on e-Bay. Quite a few of the old BV ads and posters show up there. As for Rebecca Schmidt, sorry I don’t know if she was a BV model or not.

  4. marie clover:

    Is Black Velvet Gluton Free?

    • Davin:

      Best to ask your doctor or a nutritionist.

  5. PDNott:

    Back in the early ’70s my boss dated one of the Black Velvet girls. What she saw in him I have no idea, but she was one hot toddy. Always at our functions in her black velvet cocktail dress.
    She’s the reason that I drink Black Velvet today

  6. John Spaulding:

    In laws just dug this gem out of the basement; a bottle of BV from 1977, never opened.

    Made me realize I don’t know anything about in-glass aging of whisky; does it continue to mellow after bottling, or does only the time spent in barrel benefit the flavor? Shall we just crack it and find out, or is there some value to an unopened 36-yo bottle?

    • Davin:

      Officially, ageing stops as soon as the whisky is put in the bottle, so you have a 3-year-old whisky, not a 36 year old. However there are some who believe that some minor changes do occur very slowly in glass. Whether this is the case or not is a matter for debate. Your 1977 bottle, however, is worth about the same amount as a brand new bottle is today. Old whisky rarely goes up in value. If it was mine I’d crack it open and enjoy it.

      • John Spaulding:

        Thanks, and cheers!

  7. Donna:

    I have an old Black Velvet Wooden Box, probably holds 9 -liter(?)bottles, worth anything?

    • Davin:

      Sorry, not really.


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