Canadian Mist Black diamond Canadian whisky

Canadian Mist Black Diamond (43% alc./vol. (86 proof))

November 28, 2011

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Brio, cola, white pepper, ginger, sultanas, prunes, coconut, grapefruit zest and juice, dry grain, mash, and hints of fresh-cut lumber. Fruity & Spicy. ★★★☆

Surprisingly hard to find in Canada, Canadian Mist has been a staple for whisky drinkers in America for over 40 years. “This is crafted for the American market,” says Master Distiller, Harold Ferguson, who has nurtured the Collingwood, Ontario-based Canadian Mist distillery for each of those four decades. “This is three-year-old whisky,” he adds, speaking of the original Canadian Mist, “thirty-six months.”

The makers of Canadian Mist have no illusions of grandeur. Their original is mixing whisky, with no pretensions as a sipper. They know their market well and serve it admirably. In fact, from time to time Canadian Mist is the top-selling Canadian whisky in America, and has garnered an armful of gold medals over the years. But whisky is a hot commodity these days, and some folks, as far as flavour is concerned, are ready to move up. Others want something a little more “premium” to celebrate those special occasions and their important guests. How better to fulfil that desire than with a richer version of an already-established favourite?

Steve Hughes is a spirit scientist and master blender at Brown-Forman Corporation, which owns Canadian Mist. He earned these titles through his university studies and 27 years of experience making whisky. Hughes applied his hard-earned blending skills to create a new Canadian Mist, developing a much richer, much fruitier whisky, while retaining the Canadian Mist character. Yes, this is certainly a mixing whisky, but one with robust rye flavours and a fruit-forward palate that just might tempt a few habitual mixers to try sipping it neat. Bravo, Steve!

Sadly, there are no plans yet to release Canadian Mist Black Diamond in Canada, but whisky lovers in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, and Texas can find it now in their liquor stores. By 2011, it should be available right across the U.S.

Nose: That distinctive Canadian Mist cola/Brio note starts things off, so immediately you know this whisky is going to be great in cocktails. But what does it smell like as a whisky? Well, it’s dusty – dusty rye to be exact, with loads of dried fruit: prunes and sultanas, ripe fruit in a fall fruit market, coconut, and hard candy. At three years of age you wouldn’t expect much in the way of oak, but little hints of dry lumber start poking through right away. A slight citric zestiness is tinged with bitter grapefruit rind which will add a lively zing to a mixed drink. The classic Canadian Mist malty/mashy notes shine through as well, with wet grain, Weetabix, and something a little punky in the fore. This is not a complex nose, but neither is it one-dimensional.

The best mixing whiskies have at least a hint of spirit on which to build an appealing cocktail and Canadian Mist Black Diamond delivers the goods. But these requisite spirity notes are tastefully restrained by balancing flavours of cola. This unique cola redolence comes from tiny traces of (n)propyl alcohol skilfully retained among the congeners (pronounced “CON-gen-ers”, by the way) during distillation.

If Steve Hughes set out to produce a bigger, bolder, and more robust Canadian Mist he certainly succeeded in creating a much-more-fragrant nose. And he managed to do so without losing that important Canadian Mist signature. Fruit, mash, and cola predominate, but are supported by a diverse range of fleeting undertones which include mucilage, pickle juice, hot ginger, fall fruit stands, and – vaguely – a florist shop. This is very much typical Canadian Mist, only bigger … much bigger.

Palate: Sweet with lots of caramelized oak sugars, mashy, and rich in cola and ripe black fruit along with Concord grapes and Welch’s grape juice. Behind the fruitiness, rapidly intensifying white pepper notes are complemented by hot chocolate-covered ginger, which is quickly subsumed by generic rye spices. The chocolate disappears in a flash and forever. This is flavourful whisky, although not overly complex, with hints of rose water, flowers, sweet mash and persistent cola notes.

The citric bitters predicted by the nose come out in the middle to provide lots of zip, and balance an increasingly peppery heat that warms the throat. These same zesty citric notes, which lean more towards white grapefruit than bitter lemon, also keep the mouthfeel fresh as they provide counterpoint to a slight waxiness and the creaminess of the body. This whisky is fuller, rounder, weightier and much more expressive than the original Canadian Mist.

Finish: Medium-short. Fading hot pepper, rich dark fruit, cola, cotton candy, hints of mash and bitter citric zest, with a brief reprise of dark fruit at the end.

Canadian Mist distillery mashes 100% dent corn, much of it bought from local, Ontario farmers. A second mash is made up of corn, local rye, and barley malt. These are mashed in water from the nearby crystal-clear Nottawasaga Bay, a giant inlet, big enough to be a lake unto itself, on Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay. Once fermented, these mashes are distilled, then aged separately in barrels from the Brown-Forman Cooperage. After three years in the Canadian Mist warehouses, the whiskies are blended together in Collingwood, Ontario before being shipped to Louisville, Kentucky in dedicated, but unmarked, Canadian Mist tanker trucks, for bottling.

Empty Glass: Fairly expressive, with hints of caramel, icing sugar, dark fruit, fresh-cut lumber, sweet granola, and – just vaguely – some beer.

Suggested retail price: $14.99.

Recommended. ★★★☆

The ever-popular original Canadian Mist is reviewed here.


Comments

2 Responses to “Canadian Mist Black Diamond (43% alc./vol. (86 proof))”

  1. Piers:

    I was just looking at the San Fran Spirit Award winners, and see the Black Diamond won Best Canadian Whisky, Double Gold Medal. quite interesting, not bad for a $15 bottle

    • Davin:

      Yes, it’s doing exceptionally well. It really is quite a savoury treat!


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