Lot No. 40 – 2012 Release 43% alc/vol

May 1, 2013


The Legend Of Lot 40 Is Huge.

Hard Christmas candy, sour rye and sweet fruitiness with hot pepper, hotter spices and heavy rye bread. A pleasing farminess accents sweet floral esters. ★★★★★

Lot No. 40 has generated more enthusiasm among whisky connoisseurs around the world than any Canadian whisky I can think of. This has become the Black Orchid of Canadian whisky, the quintessential Canadian rye. And finally, having gone missing for over a decade, this magnificent, luxuriantly flavourful whisky is coming back to liquor store shelves.

When Lot 40 disappeared, at the beginning of the 21st century, a frantic whisky hunt began. Connoisseurs who had tasted this magic potion searched the web and every mom-and-pop liquor store in North America in search of any old dusties that might still remain. Every now and then a rumour would surface. A stash had been found in Texas, Alberta, or even Denmark. Immediately a Klondikesque rush of whisky cognoscenti would follow.

Now, in 2012, Corby Distilleries has responded to the wistful pleas of connoisseurs and whisky sleuths alike. At last, they are re-releasing Lot 40. The whisky will be back on LCBO store shelves around the middle of October 2012, and in five other markets shortly thereafter. (BC, AB, SK, MB, and NB.)

Pernod-Ricard owns the Hiram Walker distillery where Lot 40 spirit flows from a single, 12,000-litre copper pot still. When Pernod-Ricard, one of the world’s largest spirits makers resurrects a Canadian whisky icon, you know something big is happening in whiskydom. Do not kid yourself. This is an occasion. Canadian whisky is on the rise and Lot No. 40 is leading the charge.

With only minor updates, the new packaging resembles the Canadian Whisky Guild original. And the instantly recognizable Lot 40 rye-bread nose and palate fairly surge out of the glass. It is a most nostalgic moment for those who remember Lot 40. But is the new whisky identical to the original? Yes, and no.

The 2012 release has just a tad more fruit, sour rye, and flint than the original. But this is neither a drawback, nor a surprise. The flavour of rye grain is strongly influenced by growing conditions and each year’s crop has noticeable differences. This is the reality of working with rye. It is easy to compensate for these variations when you distill some of the spirit to high strength or when you blend rye with corn and barley whisky. But for an all-rye whisky, each year’s batch will be a little bit different. Corby’s knows this and has clearly labeled this new edition as “2012 Édition Release.”

Former master blender David Doyle and Corby’s current master blender, Dr. Don Livermore had a hand in making the 2012 version of Lot 40. But as a tribute to Booth who originally brought the whisky to market, the President of Corby sent him a letter asking if they could revive the brand using the Lot 40 name.

In the 1990′s, Booth himself had resurrected Lot 40 using an old recipe that had been in his family for seven generations. He named the whisky after the homestead of his early-Ontario ancestor, Joshua Booth, himself a distiller. Joshua had a pot still, to be sure, and had developed this recipe to make his whisky, but whether or not he was actually licensed to operate that still is not certain. Such were times in pioneer Ontario.

While I was researching my book about Canadian whisky I had occasion to spend the better part of a morning with the one and only D. Michael Booth. Mike was just bubbling with information and stories – so many stories that I could barely keep up with him. And one by one he pulled a collection of historic bottles out of a cardboard box, each with a story of its own. Slowly, we went over them, lost in a whisky reverie. When we parted, Mike pressed one of these bottles into my hand. “This is my highest achievement as a blender,” he told me. “I want you to write about it.” It was Lot No. 40! – Lot 40 – his great-great-great-great grandfather, Joshua Booth’s wonderful, magnificent, historic whisky.

Nose: Big, hard Christmas candy, fruity, sour rye bread, hints of pickled artichoke hearts, and a barn full of dry hay lead off. Then acetone and sweet esters bring a sweet singing fruitiness which soon wallows into muddy earthy tones. Baked rye surges forward again with loads of bitter rye bread and some very farmy aromas – the kind that make you take a deep breath and contemplate moving to the country. Finally, the bouquet of candy and spice returns. The longer you wait, the more that happens, and it all revolves around rye fragrances, and rye bread.

Palate: Rye: Hard rye, hot spices, pepper, sweet and sour, delicately bitter rye, and hot cinnamon hearts. Then a cocktail of fresh green fruit and dark ripe fruit. The peppery warmth sets your lips and tongue aglow. A chalky sweetness is pushed aside by tart grapefruit pith, hints of oakiness, bitter cumquats and sweet mandarins.

Finish: Ultra-long with pepper, sweet hard candy, hot spices, hints of cloves, a certain muddiness, then hard clean slate. As other flavours slowly fade, hot spices and glimmers of sweetness linger seemingly forever. Finally all is washed away on a tsunami of sour rye bread.

Empty Glass: Floral sweetness, rye grain, masses of toasted oak and fresh-cut firewood.

Very Highly Recommended. ★★★★★

$39.95 at LCBO beginning about October 15, 2012.

The original Lot No. 40 is reviewed here.


40 Responses to “Lot No. 40 – 2012 Release 43% alc/vol”

  1. CBrown:

    Now we are talking! I was starting to worry when there were no reports or pics from your event last week.

    With the pedigree Lot 40 has the price sounds very reasonable.
    Can’t wait!

    • Davin:

      It is just wonderful whisky, believe me.

  2. portwood:

    Sold! Two for two.

    You’re right Davin, this is shaping up to be a great time for Canadian whisky.
    The other great thing is that these releases are lighter on the pocketbook than most of the single malts being released (case in point is the $234 the LCBO wants for Glenfarclas Family Casks 1996 – a 14 year old!!!).

  3. Zen:

    Davin, with your “sour rye bread” description… how similar is this to Wiser’s Legacy? Any idea how long this has been aged?

    • Davin:

      Interesting question. Yes, there certainly are many similarities between the two. The nose of Lot 40 is just huge with rye bread and a whole range of rye tones. Wiser’s Legacy really has JP Wiser’s “house style” with its broad range of flavours, all carefully synthesized into a whole. The nose on Lot 40 is more obviously rye bread. The palate of Legacy is broad, carefully balanced and wonderfully complex, but of course you can say that about Lot 40 as well. It just goes more into hard-core rye. Overall, I would say Lot 40 is weightier (yes, I know, that’s saying a lot) and showcases nearly every aspect of rye you can think of. Maybe Legacy is a blender’s whisky, and Lot 40 a distiller’s. Does that make sense? I would be very hard pressed to say which I prefer. I’ll bet a year from now I will have open bottles of both on my top shelf to share with visitors.

      Ageing can be a really difficult question for Canadian whisky and I do not know how “old” Lot 40 is. I was told there is a lot of very old rye-grain whisky in there but also maybe some as young as 5 or 6 years. However, this was just idle talk and I do not know the recipe.

      The problem with age statements in Canada is that they must state the age of the youngest component. That’s fine for whisky made with malted barley because it takes a long time for barley whisky to mature. Rye-grain whisky, on the other hand, and especially rye that is aged in brand new oak can be extremely vibrant and flavourful at a very young age. As a result some Canadian blenders will add just a smidgen of young rye as “top dressing” to brighten up a whisky, but then the age statement is out the window. Very few put age statements on their bottles as they have less meaning for Canadian whisky.

      This is the same reason a lot of bourbons don’t have an age statement. When it is aged in a warm climate and new barrels whisky gets a lot of flavour in the first few years. This is why even at 2 or 3 years of age some bourbon can be just so big and full. Gotta stop. It’s still morning and you’re making me thirsty!

      • Zen:

        Thanks for all the extra info Davin.

  4. Cedric Dugas:

    Any idea if we are getting this in Quebec?

    The selection of Canadian Whisky is getting really poor in Quebec, for example the wiser selection stand only with the Small Batch and Deluxe, I myself bought the last Legacy of the entire quebec 2 months ago.

    We arent getting forty creek and alberta premium either…

    • Davin:

      As far as I know they have plans for every province, but of course a lot depends on the buyers at the liquor boards.

    • Stephane Guay:

      Avaible now in Québec at the S.A.Q. $40,00.

  5. Bob:

    Wow! That sounds absolutely amazing! I’m definitely going to have to track this one down. I just hope we get it in around here or else I’ll have to order it online! Nice review.

    • Davin:

      It’s great whisky alright. It will be in stores right across Canada as far as I know. It might take some time to get to all locations.

  6. CBrown:

    Lot 40 is now available in B.C.

  7. Yello to Mello:

    Davin, as I couldnt attend Whisky Live Toronto right now, I had the opportunity to get a bottle of Lot 40 this evening.

    Your notes on this one are pretty close to what I got. From the comments earlier, it is true that there is similar ‘sour rye bread’ in this whisky like the Legacy.

    I like how the sweet and spicy cinnamon candy notes and fresh green fruit harmonize with the rye notes. The rye notes are the quality ones, that have the little silkiness to them like Legacy and AP30.

  8. Brian:

    I can proudly say that Lot 40 is finally available in Ontario: http://lcbo.com/lcbo-ear/lcbo/product/details.do?language=EN&itemNumber=291468

  9. Brian:

    Is Lot 40 100% rye or a traditional mixture?

    • Davin:

      100% rye. They use some rye malt which gives good breadth of flavour.

  10. Yannis:

    This was well worth the trip to the LCBO. Holy cow. Reminded me of baby Saz.

    I’ve been spoilt for choice recently. First Forty Creek for a birthday, then Wiser’s Legacy for my father’s 79th, followed by Dark Horse, and now Lot 40.

    I’ve stopped recommending the bourbon or single malt value picks and suggest people consider some extremely well-valued Canadians. Proud to be Canadian (via New England). :)

  11. John P:

    After reading the reviews on this website, I decided to try this for myself. I must say, this is one of (if not THE) best Canadian rye whisky I’ve ever had!
    Thank you for the wonderful review (and delightful website) I look forward to reading all future reviews!

    • Davin:

      Yep, that’s one fine whisky. Glad you enjoyed the review.

  12. [...] isn’t much info about the whisky to be found immediately but I know (from Davin’s post) they stopped making it in the early 21st century and last year saw the re-release of [...]

  13. David:

    My apologies, I posted this under the original Lot 40 review by mistake.

    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:

      As I said elsewhere, Lot No. 40 is wonderful whisky. If Ruben has learned whisky by drinking Scotch it may take a while for his palate to adjust. Wiser’s Legacy and Masterson’s are also good.

  14. Denis:

    Not sure if anyone smells this, but it starts sweet, nearly butterscotch, and then an odour of slightly overcooked (microwaved) popcorn, but not in a bad way… and then comes the rye.

  15. antonina:

    hey guys! who knows the aging of this whisky?
    seems to be really good!

    • Davin:

      About 10 years.

  16. Dead Eye Dave:

    I was heart broken when the very first offering of Lot 40 was delisted and disappeared. I bought, at that time, everything I could find close by including a bunch of the 1 1/2 ounce bottles. I have one bottle of that first “Lot 40″ left in my rack. It has a paper seal over the sealed cork and a slightly different round tag copper wired to the neck. Michael Booth signed with Joshua Booth signing the tag on the current bottle. I promised myself I would open it for a special occasion and the recent re-introduction saved it from that fate. I wish I had marked the date down that I purchased it. I think that the supply is running out according to an LCBO manager. Will it be delisted again soon? Note that the first offering is slightly paler in colour than the current. Love it….don’t let it disappear. Dave

  17. honey badger:

    was just in the lcbo today. they had them on clearance for $8 off!

  18. dannyd:

    Simply fantastic, i cant decide if i like this or forty creek Copper Pot Reserve more. they are tied in my books! thanks for the fantastic review and website, i sit a desk 9hrs a day and reading your awesome website has opened my eyes to the outstanding quality of our own home grown whiskey, sláinte mhaith Davin! keep on drinking the water o life.

    • Davin:

      Thanks, Danny!

  19. dannyd:

    No Davin thank you! i might give gibsons finest another try seeing your glowing review, i hated it the first time i tried it but I drank it right from the bottle with friends as a teenager instead of letting it breath

  20. Mike:

    Have a bottle of regal velvet 1977 unopened #37746

    • Davin:

      It’s not worth much money so you might as well enjoy it. Nice find!

  21. Ryan:

    Hey Davin have you heard about a 2013 or 2014 edition release in the works?

    • Davin:

      Not yet.

  22. [...] this one, too, from a bunch of Canadian whisky pros. And you can read a scholarly history of Lot 40 here (please do, really) from Davin de Kergommeaux, “certified Malt Maniac.” Most [...]

  23. [...] recent international successes of his Lot No. 40 and Pike Creek whiskies have encouraged master blender, Dr. Don Livermore to expand his range even [...]

  24. Glen:

    I have enjoyed trying many of the top recommended brands of Canadian Rye. Lot 40 is by far my favourite. Gooderham and Worts is another one I have an affection for. Both have their own distinct complex flavour that differ from most traditional rye whiskeys

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