Lot 40 Canadian Whisky

Lot 40 (43% alc./vol.)

October 19, 2011

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Rye, rye bread, sour rye, floral rye, hard rye, earthy rye, dusty rye grain, and then sweet citric notes, oranges, hot peppery spices, and tannic wood. Spicy Rye. ★★★★★

In the late 1990s the folks in charge of the Hiram Walker distillery decided to try something new. A market for high-end specialty whiskies was developing world wide but Canadian whisky was not benefiting from it. With typical low Canadian self-esteem, brand managers overlooked some outstanding contenders. They opted to create a new range of whiskies instead, and dubbed them the Canadian Whisky Guild. Hiram Walker’s Master Distiller was hugely successful in developing three great new Canadian whiskies, each in a different style. But for reasons unknown, none of them ever caught on. It certainly was not the quality.

Personally, I think snobbishness prevailed since these whiskies were simply priced too low to catch the eye of leading, status-conscious trend setters. Yes, other premium-priced Canadian whiskies can be slow sellers, but generally these are one-offs or commemoratives while the Canadian Whisky Guild was a whole new range. The stars were well aligned for these whiskies and the LCBO pulled out all the stops to support them in Ontario, their largest potential market. If only they’d been priced as the premium products they were. I’ll review Pike Creek and Gooderham and Worts later. Right now I want to turn my focus to the leader of the trio, Lot 40.

Nose: Very expressive right from the start. Dark, sour German rye bread, with dusty grain, caraway seed, wood, and bitter dark molasses. Dark fruits and hot pepper with swimming pool smells. Hints of perfume and fruity esters. Complex and highly integrated, though the rye bread aromas dominate. Sharp and sweet citric notes predict fruit on the palate.

Palate: A really flavourful whisky that starts and stays on rye bread. Yes, there’s a fruitiness: dark fruits, and there’s lots of hot pepper too. The mouthfeel is rich and syrupy, yet quite astringent, woody, and oaky. What begins as an undefined fruitiness soon takes on notes of fresh navel oranges and sweet Grand Marnier. It has lots of peppery heat but it’s all contained by the rye. The dry dustiness of rye quickly emerges, as do floral notes and an earthiness. This whisky evokes those ever-so Canadian summer smells: fresh water plants and swimming in the Rideau River. What starts out as a seemingly simple, almost one-dimensional whisky, becomes a complex ensemble as it develops in the glass and in your mouth. The classic rye bitterness underscores it all like a pedal bass.

Finish: Long, and the rye bread lingers the whole time. A pleasing peppery glow with a hint of vanilla sweetness and a clean zestiness. Even after a few minutes there are still lots of rye bread notes and dry dusty grain.

Empty Glass: Understated toffee, tobacco, and the vaguest dry rye grain. Some sourness, buckwheat honey with hints of vanilla, some sweet-and-sour, and maybe a hint of Allen’s apple juice. Oaky.

Lot 40 was a plot of land occupied by one of the ancestors of Mike Booth, the now-retired Master Distiller responsible for creating this whisky. Proud of his distilling heritage, he paid homage to his ancestry by naming this rye-heavy whisky for the spot where his family set up their first Canadian still many generations ago. Although Lot 40, the whisky, has long since disappeared from the shelves of the LCBO I recently found some dusty bottles in two tiny liquor stores in Alberta, and still at the original price of $38.00.

Distilled from a mash of rye malt and rye, this is the whisky against which all the bragging ryes should be measured. The rye shines through, perhaps even dominates the nose and the palate, but it is neither biting nor overbearing, even though it does not have the taming influence of new wood so common in heavy rye whiskies, and particularly American ryes. A very unusual, almost succulent whisky. Very definitely collectible.

Very highly recommended

★★★★★

The new 2012 edition of Lot No. 40 is reviewed here.



Comments

27 Responses to “Lot 40 (43% alc./vol.)”

  1. Marty:

    My best Canadian Rye ever! Seems no more available on the market (saq or lcbo)

    Is there any Canadian Rye Whisky with such quality as Lot 40 on the market now ?

  2. Davin:

    Hi Marty,
    There are some really great Canadian rye whiskies on the market today. I really like Legacy and WhistlePig for example, but I think we’ll wait a long, long time to ever see anything that can match Lot 40.

  3. Marty:

    Thanks!

    What about High West Rendezvous (American Whiskey) suppose to come from a Canadian Distillery ?!

  4. Miron:

    I have small bottle 0f Lot 40 (50ml).I am curious how much is it now? Maybe someone know?

    • Davin:

      Hi Miron,
      Probably not worth a lot. You might get $5 or $10 from someone who desperately wants to try it. It is very nice whisky so you may want to try it yourself!

  5. John:

    Hey Davin, if you were to find another bottle in a store, how much do you think it should sell for?

    • Davin:

      Hi John,

      Lot 40 sold in the $35-$40 range when it first came out in the late 1990′s. I bought a couple of bottles in a store in Calgary for about $38, if I remember correctly a little less than a year ago. Frankly, I think it is worth more than that, but I’d start getting nervous around the $70 -$75 region.

      I would like to buy a few more bottles but not badly enough to pay more than that. Most old Canadian whiskies go up in value very slowly but I think as time goes by, the value of Lot 40 will increase more quickly just because Lot 40 is a really outstanding whisky.

      There is one on e-Bay right now for $100 and I will not bid. That is too much in my opinion. And it would be even more if it turns out to be in the U.S. There will be about 100% duty to bring it in to Canada (and I would have to pick it up as they can’t ship whisky across the border) so that would double the cost.

      This is a long, rambling answer, but I think you have to decide for yourself how much it is worth to have a bottle. Me? I’d pay $80 at the very most for a perfect specimen.

      Davin

  6. hundertmark:

    you may be short of Lot40 in Canada, but it is easy to get in Denmark Europe.

    • Davin:

      Hmmm, that must be where they shipped the last of it. I’d sure love to get my hands on a another case of it. What does it sell for over there?
      Davin

  7. Dan:

    Six bottles of Lot 40 surfaced in an Indianapolis liquor store after a few inquiries for $37 each. Worth every penny.

    Are the other two Canadian Whisky Guild offerings worth getting?

    • Davin:

      Wow, that’s great and a good price. Yes the other two are good, but Lot 40 is the absolute classic.

  8. J. Allen Wood:

    My wife and I have been hitting all the smaller liquor stores in town, searching for bottles of out of production whiskies like Laphroaig 15 year old (why did they stop making this??). I kept an eye out for Lot 40, but really didn’t think I would find any. I was shocked when I found a lone bottle in one store, then ecstatic when I scored another one a few days later! I haven’t opened them yet as I like to wait for my off-days to really enjoy a great whisky.

    Davin, do you know what year they stopped making this? Any chance of it ever coming back? And have they made any other whisky from the same pot stills used for Lot 40?

    Jesse

  9. D. A. Churchill:

    Hi Davin. Thanks for this. I loved this whisky. Unfortunately, I think HW messed up the launch. I remember hearing they did not have the marketing in place when they launched. They were so excited about it they shoved it onto the market and… it promptly died. A real shame. I still have 1/2 a miniature left that I take tiny sips of every now and then. Better finish it before the Angels do it for me.

    • Davin:

      I remember the launch well. Suddenly it was everywhere and they really had LCBO behind them which must have helped a lot. I still have one of the display stands. I don’t think people were ready yet for premium Canadian whisky at premium (yes, relatively inexpensive) prices. I’d love to see this whisky or one like it come back. There are some fantastic ryes out there now, but Lot No. 40 still stands alone.

  10. Rory:

    I found a website in Spain, http://www.spiritscorner.com, that has all three of these whiskies. Shipping is pricy but I think I will pick up some Lot40. What about the others though? Pike Creek and Gooderham and Worts?

    • Davin:

      Yes, Pike Creek and Gooderham and Worts. Good find.

  11. Paul:

    Davin,
    from reading the comments . am i correct is saying that this whiskey is no longer with us or just very hard to come by? was doing some research 100% ryes and this one peeked my interest..
    Paul

  12. Paul:

    all else fails email distillery dirrectly. waiting on response to my inquiry:-)

  13. Davin:

    Hi Paul,

    This whisky has not been produced since the turn of the century, but dusty bottles still seem to turn up from time to time in independent liquor stores, and I hear there are still lots of them in Europe. I found a nice stash in a small shop in Calgary and bought it all. I suggest you do the same if you ever find any. Meanwhile – Wiser’s Legacy comes from the same still and has many of the same qualities, though is a bit sweeter and spicier.

  14. Paul:

    thanks davin. im a big legacy fan. once the it go’s empty i pickup another i like the 18 as well.when i go to the states in the spring i will be on the look for it.. dont supose you’d like to sell a bottle.lol. silly question but had to be asked.
    whiskey is becomng an obsession for me.. but will limit myself to north americans except the odd irish.

    • Davin:

      Hi Paul,
      Good guess! Actually I get quite a few request but I never sell whisky. Good luck in your search, I’m sure you’ll find some eventually. I saw one on e-Bay a while ago.

  15. I have 2 perfect condition bottles in my Liquor Store down here in BlueMountain Beach, Florida for sale if anyone is down this way and interested…BlueMountain Liquors and Market.

  16. i live just outside in sudbury, ont and i have one bottle of lot 40,never opened ,i was interested in seeing if its worth, and willing to sell this bottle, for inquieries, call me at my home at 1 705 671 9942, ask for mike

  17. [...] pour recréer ce whisky qui avait presque disparu de la face de cette terre, sauf peut-être pour une boutique poussiéreuse de l’Alberta. Même qu Mike Booth lui a donné son aval! By: Curtis Perry – CC BY-NC-SA [...]

  18. David:

    Hello Davin, I’ve been thinking about picking up a botte of Lot 40 but I just read Ruben’s rather harsh review at WhiskyNotes, he gave it a 75, ouch.
    Maybe I will stick with the Wiser’s Legacy and the Masterson’s which I have tried and I know both are are fantastic.

    • Davin:

      Lot No. 40 is marvelously wonderful whisky. If Ruben has learned whisky from drinking Scotch then it could take a while for his palate to adjust. Both Wiser’s Legacy and Masterson’s are great whiskies too. If you like these why not try Lot 40 in a bar before you buy a bottle?

  19. Connor:

    Just bought a bottle at LCBO FOR $38, seems readily available too


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