Black Velvet Reserve 8 year old Canadian whisky

Black Velvet Reserve 8 years old (40% abv (80 proof))

October 23, 2017


Caramel and pepper dominate well-defined fruits, fresh oak, vanilla, rye spices and zesty undertones. Both dusty and oily. Rich and Round. ★★★★

Black Velvet is a hugely popular Canadian whisky, both in the home market and abroad. However, massive sales in the U.S. have led the marketing branch of Schenley, with which the Black Velvet brand was consolidated in 1997, to give special attention to the American market. The hugely popular three-year-old Black Velvet mixing whisky had already been tweaked to suit American palates before Black Velvet joined the Schenley family, but that was not enough for some whisky lovers. Its popularity led to demand for an up-market version in the U.S. as well, and as a result we have the eight-year-old Black Velvet Reserve.

While the younger Black Velvet is intended primarily as a mixing whisky, the Reserve was created for sipping. But this is not just the three-year-old with five more years in the barrel. Like its stable mates, Black Velvet Reserve is blended at birth from corn base spirits, with partly matured rye, corn flavouring whiskies, and a dash of corn and rye high wines. But once again, the formula has been tweaked. So, in addition to five extra years spent drawing flavours in from the barrel, Black Velvet Reserve also includes more of the flavouring whiskies, giving it a luxurious mouthfeel with a creamy richness.

Nose: Rich and expressive, with sweet rye spices, prunes, peaches, sweet citrus and kiwi. Well-integrated oaky notes – stacks of freshly cut lumber – settle in to stay. Heavy sweet notes include butterscotch, caramel, toffee, and burnt sugar. It has the dusty smell of hard rye, yet somehow it also smells oily, with just a hint of spirit. Neither overly complex nor particularly subtle.

Palate: Caramel and pepper dominate as sweetness and heat joust on the tongue with burnt sugar, caramel, toffee, and lots of white pepper each taking their turn. The pepper generates a lot of heat, but seems to stand apart from the rest. Faint whispers of fresh-cut wood slowly turn to shouts. Cutting zesty grapefruit peel that appears early on, balances an otherwise creamy mouthfeel. Dark fruits contribute a sweet fruitiness. The wood, too, is held in balance by a subdued sweetness with hot pepper on top so it never becomes astringent or pulling. A bit softer than the Deluxe, and both sweeter and hotter. Although quite rich and flavourful, the palate remains a bit simple. Loads of caramel, vanilla like crazy, blackstrap molasses, rye spices, burnt sugar, sweet ripe black fruit, and zesty undertones.

Finish: Medium-short. The pepper lasts a long time eventually fading out on prune juice, ripe black fruit, and toffee to a cleansing zestiness. Lots of wood.

Empty Glass: Closed with vague suggestions of dark fruit. Licorice?? Sawdust, caramel and fudge, dust, water.

About $13.00 in U. S. liquor stores.

Highly Recommended. ★★★★

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

Black Velvet Deluxe reviewed here.
Black Velvet 3 year old reviewed here.


17 Responses to “Black Velvet Reserve 8 years old (40% abv (80 proof))”

  1. Hi
    where can I buy this in the uk as I used to drink
    it in the early seventies.
    I live near Brighton, East Sussex, England.

    • Davin:

      Not sure where you might find this in the UK, but if anyone has it it will be the Whisky Exchange in London. Good luck. It’s really quite nice.

  2. thomas mckenzie:

    I have been bypassing a bottle of this in my nearest store. I will have to bring it home next trip. By the way, got myself a bottle of Canadian Club bottled in 1956 the other day. Remarkable stuff. I hope that the Canadian whiskey of tommorow goes back to tasting as good as it did in 1956.

  3. David:

    A friend has a bottle of 1974 40oz. Black Velvet. He asked me if it’s still good, and how much will it cost nowadays? Will someone answer the questions for me since I don’t have a slight idea.

    • Davin:

      If it is full, and still sealed it is still good. Value would be in the $50 to $75 range, maybe less.

  4. John:

    Compared to toasted caramel, this is mediocre at best. Not very complex, just a lot of oak, zest and whiskey burn. It reminded me a lot of the cheapest Evan Williams you can buy. (seems about right considering this IS cheap whiskey.) I will drink Black Velvet toasted caramel over this any day of the week.

  5. db:

    i enjoy this . i like the flavors and aroma. I also enjoy the price.

  6. JWS:

    Absolutely DELICIOUS whisky!!! My new fave sipper…..and such a BARGAIN!!! US$12.95 where I live, in Ohio USA.

  7. CH:

    Love this whiskey! Just as good, if not better, as Jack Daniels and about $10.00 cheaper. In fact, I’m stopping by the liquer store on the way home to get more.

  8. Jimbo:

    Just made a few lovely Manhattan’s with the 8 year, its on sale here in Pennsylvania for $13.

    • Davin:

      It is nice, isn’t it?

  9. christopher moorman:

    My local liquor storein Dayton, Ohio only carries this in 1.75ml bottles.For $26, I consider it a bargain. It serves me well as a mixer or sipper w/wo chaser. Canadian whiskey is great, as well as being a great bargain.

  10. Josha:

    I discovered BV Reserve in California this year, as it is harder to come by where I live in Pennsylvania (state controlled liquor stores — gimme a break!). I really enjoyed it. I almost could not believe the price. Literally $10.99 in CA. Finally found a store in PA that carries it and we currently have a sale on 1.75L bottles for only $19.99. Before I searched their website for the Reserve, I bought a bottle of the 3 year and, while decent for mixing, I did not care for it as much. I fell in love with the Reserve and can sip it all night while smoking a nice fermented tobacco flake out of my briar. That’s living!

  11. [...] The Choice: Black Velvet Reserve [...]

  12. Like it was smooth going down yunz have a customer

  13. Ron:

    Best sipping whiskey on the market. You will not be disappointed.

  14. Big Mike:

    Good whiskey . Love the overall flavor and price

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