Revel Stoke Spiced Canadian Whisky

Revel Stoke Spiced Whisky (45% alc/vol (90 proof))

November 17, 2011

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Rich and creamy; smooth as the proverbial baby’s bottom. Vanilla, camphor, cherry cough drops, spicy pepper, and pleasing citric pith. Tasty Spice.

Phillips Distilling Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota, has just re-launched Revel Stoke Spiced Canadian Whisky in all-new livery. The packaging has been updated to project a rugged, old-West, outdoors image, clearly aimed at the younger crowd. That said, it’s now a full 90 proof, yet smooth enough to shoot straight without wincing. You can almost picture rock climbers back at base camp pulling out a bottle to celebrate conquering another brutal rock face.

Originally released in 2000, an 80-proof version of Revelstoke, as it was known back then, quickly found fans across western Canada and the U.S. Its enticing spiciness and an irreverent promotion campaign that featured, among other things, bikini-clad lap dancers and advertising on urinal mats saw to that. However, there were significant corporate changes at Phillips in 2001, and a shift of focus to other products. This left Revelstoke to languish for lack of support. A small core of fanatics refused to give up on it though, and went to great lengths to find what few bottles were still being produced, thus helping to keep the brand more or less alive. Well the intervention of fanatical supporters has finally paid off; Revelstoke is now back as Revel Stoke Spiced Whisky and distribution has been ramped up in 13 states.

Named after Revelstoke, the mountain resort town in British Columbia, Revel Stoke Spiced Whisky is actually distilled in the next province over: Alberta. It is distilled from Canadian prairie wheat and rye, and after ageing, it is infused with spices and natural flavours. On the nose these evoke essences of vanilla, camphor, and cherry. Phillips, prides itself on its innovation and modeled Revel Stoke on spiced rum, noting that about a third of all rum sold in North America has had spices added. If adding spices worked with rum, they gambled that adding spices to whisky would similarly spice up whisky sales.

Sampling Revel Stoke head to head with other spiced and flavoured beverages is most revealing because you will discover that Revel Stoke’s appeal really is unique. The ever-popular Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum, for example, tastes very sweet with caramel, powdered sugar, and delightful hints of maple cream cookies on the nose. Meanwhile, the muscular Revel Stoke is redolent of cherries, creamy vanilla, and camphor. Both are quite peppery. The mild, refreshing bitterness of Captain Morgan’s rum palate is in contrast to the richly flavoured Revel Stoke’s robust cleansing citric zest. Revel Stoke has a little more breadth of palate than Captain Morgan and is fuller bodied – almost a little bit syrupy, like a liqueur. Both seem to lie in wait for Coca Cola®.

If Revel Stoke seems slightly syrupy (and it certainly does), why not compare it with a liqueur that is popular with the younger set, Southern Comfort, for example? But it takes just one sip to discover “No! There’s no comparison!” Southern Comfort is overloaded with peach flavouring, SweetTarts, and lemon candy in high contrast to Revel Stoke’s toothsome vanilla and ample spicy pepper. The singular Revel Stoke is no Southern Comfort wannabe.

So maybe another flavoured whisky would be a better comparison. Jim Beam has recently released a cherry flavoured Bourbon: Red Stag. Perhaps we’ll have a little more success comparing whisky to whisky. But then, Revel Stoke does not have what you might call a lot of typical rye whisky character. The wheat whisky, which makes up most of the Revel Stoke blend, lives up to its reputation as mild, smooth, and eminently quaffable, while its woody notes linger shyly, and way in the background. This Revel Stoke certainly has loads of vanilla, though, but Red Stag is more whisky-like – or Bourbon-like to be more exact – with cords of wood, pepper, vanilla, plus, yes, oodles of sweet black cherries. Red Stag tastes like Bourbon with a Dr Pepper™ mixer, whereas the spice-forward Revel Stoke is a posh, velvety, and mouth-filling wheat whisky.

But let’s try one more comparison before getting to the Revel Stoke tasting notes: The makers of Yukon Jack call their product the black sheep of the Canadian liquor family. Its very vegetal cousin, Snakebite, is decidedly more tonic than liqueur. Compared with Revel Stoke, Yukon Jack tastes sharp and almost musty. Although Revel Stoke certainly has a spicy kick, it is smooth and luxurious next to Yukon Jack which is loaded with cutting citrus notes and hot pepper. Yes, Yukon Jack entertains the palate – a literal amuse bouche – with a four-part sequence of syrup, pepper, sweet lemon, and bitter lemon appearing with each sip. However, as with Revel Stoke, rye is not the first thing that springs to mind when sipping Yukon Jack.

Among the commonly available choices, it would seem that Revel Stoke really does stand apart. No doubt word of mouth and a bit of promotion will attract newly-minted drinkers who might otherwise end up in the safe Jack Daniels or Southern Comfort camps. Revel Stoke’s very zippy peppery notes make it a great mixer, and sipped neat Revel Stoke is a pleasure unto itself. And, honestly, while Phillips recommends “Stoke & Coke” and “Stoke & ginger” (and certainly, lots of people are bound to enjoy lots of it that way), Revel Stoke sipped neat after dinner really complements a piece of apple pie with vanilla ice cream.

Nose: Creamy vanilla, black cherries, Smith Brothers cherry cough drops, Dr Pepper™, pink cherry ice cream, butterscotch, camphor oil, wax-candy lips, baby powder, hints of allspice, oak, tobacco, and sweet car grease. Quite expressive.

Palate: Very sweet like a liqueur but not as unctuous or syrupy. Quite cherried with some zippy bitter citric zest, and spicy hot pepper. The heat and bitterness play neatly off each other. As the sweetness fades, cherry cough syrup, camphor oil, menthol, hot pepper, and hot cinnamon take over the palate. A veritable spice box. Revel Stoke’s blender has taken great care to ensure none of the flavourings overpower and as a result, although they are quite expressive, the flavours remain well integrated. Although Revel Stoke is not overtly Canadian rye whisky, it does exhibit elements of dry whisky wood, but these stay way off in the background. Voluptuous vanilla ice cream notes on the tongue complement a rich mouthfeel and weighty body. Pleasing bitter citric pith and slight herbal notes round it out. Very expressive but not overly complex.

Finish: Medium and fading. Sweetish. Hot, spicy, and peppery. Cherry cough syrup, creamy vanilla, and some cleansing bitterness.

Empty Glass: Very expressive, even a day later, with vanilla ice cream, Dr Pepper™, cotton candy, butterscotch, creamy caramel, and the vaguest hints of oak.

The Phillips Distilling Company is an independent family business, founded in 1912 as Ed Phillips and Sons Company, a candy and tobacco wholesaler. The company introduced its first alcoholic drink, a peppermint schnapps, in the 1930s, shortly after American Prohibition ended. Phillips salesman, Al Dorsch, had noticed people adding peppermint candy to their newly-distilled post-Prohibition whisky in order to give it a bit of flavour.

Apparently wry humour, not to be confused with rye humour, is a Phillips family tradition. The company introduced its first Canadian whisky in 1967, the year that Canadians celebrated the country’s Centenary with uncommon expressions of fervent nationalism. Not to be outdone, Phillips produced a campy short film, seemingly shot on Super-8, showing its employees, including former CEO Jay Phillips, dashing manically out of the plant in red flannel lumberjack jackets and black toques. It was Jay’s great-grandson and current CEO, Dean Phillips, who forty years later came up with the idea to advertize on urinal mats. Incidentally, 20,000 of these were stolen (while in service, and hopefully washed before use elsewhere) before the campaign ended.

Revel Stoke is still the same delightful spiced whisky it was back in those early days, but the new image is much more backcountry, much more overtly Canadian, and ever so much more, dare I say it, tasteful. Not for the overly serious whisky connoisseur, but an unusual treat, loads of fun, and well worth trying.

Suggested retail price $16.99 at U.S. liquor stores, $26.95 at LCBO.

Other flavoured whiskies include:

Black Velvet Toasted Caramel

Dock 57 Spiced

Dock 57 Blackberry

Forty Creek Cream Liquor

Gibson’s Maple 100th Grey Cup

Highwood Canadian Maple Whisky

White Owl Spiced


Comments

39 Responses to “Revel Stoke Spiced Whisky (45% alc/vol (90 proof))”

  1. Tim N:

    Purchased a 50 ml bottle in a local liquor store today – first time I’ve seen it in Edmonton – no other size available. Look fwd to trying a spiced Cndn whisky.

    It seems a little odd to me – in the same manner as Cndn Mist – to purchase a Cndn whisky that is imported by the US for bottling (?) and then exported to Canada…

    • Davin:

      Go figure!

    • justin:

      You can purchase it in fort sask I have a bottle with me right now

  2. Tim N:

    sweet cough syrup
    thick vanilla spice
    no grain alcohol – surprising
    very pleasant

  3. Davin:

    Hi Tim,
    Sounds like we were tasting the same whisky.

  4. Rich:

    Where by chance did you buy the bottle in Edmonton? I cant find it anywhere online here in Canada so far.

    • Davin:

      Hi Rich,
      Not sure where he found it in Edmonton, but my recollection is it was a mini.

    • Davin:

      Hi Rich,
      Maybe this will help you find it.

      In BC, Revel Stoke is a SPEC listing and can only be purchased by the case through BCLDB stores or (ordered per bottle) in private stores. Distribution is low right now but your favourite local liquor store would likely stock it if requested.
      CSPC Code: 580019

      In Alberta, distribution is increasing and more widely available in the private store system.
      CSPC Code: 741507

      If you live in a province other than BC or Alberta, you can source Revel Stoke through your home liquor board’s special order system.

      Good luck!

      Davin

  5. Rich:

    Uh, thanks. I’ll try some convenient/mini stores in Goggle and see what I can find. Take care and thx.

    Rich.

  6. Tim N:

    Hey Rich,

    Liquor store on 82 Ave just east of 75 St. – don’t remember the name.

    -Tim

  7. Austin:

    Also at city centre liquor (they have minis and full size) and the liquor depot at southgate.

    • I don’t know if you guys are still reading this thread, but
      that was my favorite rye up until the company that made it shut down. I just took a shot at googling it once more (8 years later) and came up with you guys talking about it and it actually been made again. Unfortunatley I’m in Ontario and will have to do some hunting as well. If you guys like this stuff, you should try this rye, if you ever get the chance, that you can only get in Quebec….it’s somehow mixed with maple syrup, it’s called Sortilege (not the liqueur) the Whiskey.

      • Davin:

        Hi Sammy, Thanks for your note. Yes, Sortilege is on my ‘must try’ list.

  8. Dan:

    Sammy did you ever find it at an LCBO here in Ontario? I used to drink it all the time back in Alberta. Would love to pick some up.

    • Davin:

      Just did a product search and they don’t seem to have any at LCBO.

      • portwood:

        It is now available at LCBO for $27.95

    • Greg:

      I purchased it from the LCBO in Toronto today! Along with the other new spiced whisky “Spicebox”

  9. Lana:

    We have it in Saskatoon!

  10. craig:

    Yes it is available in Canada now. People that used to drink this should note that it has been reblended to provide a stronger alcohol content. The new stuff is good but not nearly as tasty as the original version.

    • Davin:

      I have both versions. I find this recent version a bit creamier and a bit smoother, but it’s still all spice and vanilla.

  11. Justin:

    Good spiced whisky. Have to take breaks from this one from time to time, due to the very sweet taste, but it is ALWAYS a treat to mix with coke :) . Probably my favourite mixed drink now.

    • Davin:

      Yeah, Revel Stoke established the trend and they have only one real competitor: White Owl Spiced, although there will soon be a spice Canadian Club available in Canada.

  12. Mike:

    Nice to see it back out again. Been nursing my last batch for way to long

  13. Bryan:

    Greetings from Chicago. Ive been a Johnny Walker Black, Jameson Special Reserve drinker for awhile, and I admit I picked up Revel Stoke because it was greater than 80 proof but at the same time, I didnt want Wild Turkey 101.

    I have to say I am very very surprised, and happy. I dont think Revel will replace my Irish whiskeys and my scotch, but I can say for sure, it will replace Captain Morgan in the cabinet.

    Revel is dirt cheap in the states too. Captain Morgan is 17 USD for a fifth. Revel is 10.50 USD a fifth. Love this stuff, and love my liquor store who is adventurous and gets new products like Revel in all the time. Support your local stores guys. Without them we would all be drinking nothing but Miller and Jack Daniels

  14. Revel Stoke is by far the best tasting whiskey of all time. I’m so glad its back. I used to have to special order it, now my local store stocks it. Superb and Heaven-Sent.

  15. Megan:

    I’m ADDICTED to Revel Stoke, and won’t drink anything else but it! :D

  16. Mike from Sarnia:

    Compared to others…makes me think they dressed up a low grade whiskey with spice to draw upon the relatively new spice mixtures hitting spirits of all kinds these days.

    Not impressed.

  17. I first discovered Revel Stoke at my local Mini/Liquor market.You’ve seen the display of all the different little shots of liquor they sale. I told the clerk “hey I think I’ll try a shot of that “Revel Stoke” stuff. I was pleasantly surprised. When my local store no longer carried it, I found another store that did. I’m not a big drinker,or a whiskey conoseur, but I do know what I like, and I am definitely a big fan of Revel Stoke.

  18. Joseph Kirscht:

    I was at our local phillips66 station and i was looking for a new drink
    I saw goldschagler cinnamon schappes and Revel stoke i an a captain morgan drinker.i tried both the revel stoke and the cinnemon schappes i like them both. The revel stoke is great in coke and the schappes is great straight up. I will not replace capt morgan but add the other 2 to my list of drinks

  19. robert squires:

    just thought i’d leave a comment on a product that deserves one…bought my first bottle at christmas time…& had tried the new wisers spiced whiskey as well at the same time…but the Revel Stroke wins hands down…i normally can’t drink any hard liqour straight but this whiskey is no problem to drink that way over ice or with mix…either way it is smooth & has a wonderful flavour…reminds me of the wild west days when those guys would drink there whiskey straight & if it tasted like this whiskey…no wonder they could drink it that way…great product…would recommend it to other whiskey drinkers & have done so…& they too have now switched to this great whiskey…keep up the good work…cheers…nova scotia canada

  20. Barry:

    I thought I’d throw my 2 cents in here. I’m not a big fan of spiced alcohol. However, I had the chance to try some of the Spiced Revel at a friends house. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. It was very smooth and tasted good over a single ice cube.

  21. Luke:

    I remember drinking this stuff just after college. We used to mix it with orange juice…sounds weird, I know, but it was really good.

    I’ve been trying to find it again for the last decade, with no luck…until last weekend, when I found some in a liquor store in Las Vegas. I hadn’t realized they were making it again.

  22. JWS:

    I came upon a bottle of Revel Stoke Spiced Whisky at a place that I frequent to get little 375ml bottles (“Tenths”, as they are 1/2 a fifth. Yes, I’m a geek.). At its price point, it looked tempting. Being a tech-savvy individual, however, I consulted the ‘Net for any reviews I might find, and, to quote Clement Moore, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a review on YOUR site. As I trust your word implicitly, I invested the US $13. I am NOT disappointed!! Thanks for your wide range of reviews!! I like a good spiced/odd variant, and this hits the proverbial spot!!!

  23. [...] Please be sure to read the rest of the article here. [...]

  24. Great write up, just wanted to let you know i quoted you in our review of Revel Stoke here: http://iscotch.ca/revel-stoke-spiced-whisky-with-dan-goran-ryan/

    Thank you for the information!

    • Davin:

      Yes, I read it. Thanks, good stuff.

  25. Greetings from Edmonton, Alberta. Can anyone point me in the right direction to find some Spiced Whiskey? As a Scotsman, I like to try them all.

  26. India Dominique:

    Hello, I wanted to know how do you go about ordering Revel Stoke Spiced Whisky online. We live in Ohio and they do not sell that brand here. Thank You very much


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