Gibson's Finest 100th Grey Cup Maple Finished Canadian Whisky

Gibson’s Finest 100th Grey Cup Limited Edition

November 21, 2012


Spicy rye, butterscotch, and vanilla fudge, glowing with heat. Hot pepper is softened by vanilla ice cream and fresh dairy butter. Real maple sugar and real maple syrup accentuate clean wood.

In 2010, when Brian Kinsman assumed the role of Malt Master at Scotland’s Glenfiddich distillery he probably did not imagine himself coming up with a new Canadian whisky. Kinsman is only the sixth Malt Master at Glenfiddich, the first having been William Grant, who founded the distillery back in 1887. However, in addition to Glenfiddich and Balvenie in Scotland, today the firm of William Grant and Sons also owns Canada’s renowned Gibson’s Finest whiskies.

Not only does Gibson’s make three of Canada’s most sought after whiskies, it also sponsors one of the last remaining truly Canadian professional sports – CFL football. The annual Grey Cup game is Canada’s largest sporting event, and this year, Lord Grey’s cup will be awarded for the 100th time. What more reason could Kinsman need to come up with a commemorative whisky? And what is more Canadian than the maple leaf? Kinsman decided his new whisky would include just a touch of real Canadian maple syrup.

At first he worked with Gibson’s Sterling, 12 Year Old and 18 Year Old, carefully infusing each with just a smidgen of maple syrup. He wanted to add maple notes without compromising the rye whisky flavours. The results tasted fine, but were not up to Gibson’s standards. Perhaps Kinsman should have known that adding flavour to finished Gibson’s whiskies was just gilding the lily. In any case, once he got down to creating a new blend from scratch, things began to fall into place. After much trial and error, finally he came up with the winning formula for a new whisky to be called Gibson’s Finest 100th Grey Cup Limited Edition Canadian Whisky. (Try saying that three time quickly.)

Gibson’s has produced 15,000 cases of this collector’s limited edition bottling. That’s enough, they expect, to last until the Canadian football season ends in November with the 10-day Grey Cup festival in Toronto. There are no plans to repeat this special whisky. The Grey Cup game itself will be played on November 25 and already it is sold out.

Nose: Even as you pour the whisky into the glass rye spices so typical of Canadian whisky waft up, with rich and creamy butterscotch hard on their heels. It’s a full and expressive nose slathered in sweet butter along with candy-cooking notes – burnt sugar, hints of caramel, hard sponge candy and then a return to rye spices, particularly mild cloves and faint hints of cinnamon. A creamy texture dominates the nose.

Palate: The nose accurately predicted a creamy palate but gave no inkling of the lovely offsetting bitter citrus pithiness. As the whisky begins to warm your mouth hot notes of ground white pepper titillate the tongue just as a buttery slipperiness glides into vanilla ice cream. Chili-vanilla ice cream anyone? But where is the maple? It begins with subtle maple-ish undercurrents that slowly build into all the complexity of real Canadian maple syrup. Still, the maple does not distract but simply underscores Canadian whisky flavours, and the Gibson’s signature creaminess remains. Late in flavours of maple sugar, then maple syrup are joined by herbal notes and clean dry wood. If smooth on the palate is your definition of a good whisky, then this is a great one.

Finish: Long – surprisingly long – and quite peppery, structured on a subtle matrix of clean wood.

Empty glass: Very expressive. Strong vanilla fudge, maple sugar, maple syrup, dry herbs and more clean wood.

Available at LCBO on or about July 14th, 2012 for $34.95; on shelves across Canada by August.

Gibson’s Finest Sterling Edition reviewed here.

Gibson’s Finest 12 Year Old reviewed here.

Gibson’s Finest Rare 18 Year Old reviewed here.

Gibson’s Finest Rare Bourbon Cask reviewed here.


27 Responses to “Gibson’s Finest 100th Grey Cup Limited Edition”

  1. Could be interesting.
    Kinsmen also done really nice job with Grant’s blended whiskies like Ale Cask and Sherry Cask.

    He also nicely improved Balvenie Brand over the years so let’s see how his expertise can be used on Canadian whiskies.

    Will worth a try for sure. Thanx for the post !

    • Davin:

      Hi André,
      I really like it. They have kept the whisky flavours front and centre and used just hints of maple to underline them. I also like the creaminess.

  2. Yello to Mello:

    Interesting indeed. Ill give it a try sometime this summer. Ill report back!

  3. Zen:

    Davin, any idea how old is this whisky? 3-12?

    • Davin:

      I really have no idea. It tastes fully mature with no rough edges but I don’t know the exact age.

  4. Robert Jordan:

    Any idea when this will be showing up in ALberta stores? If at all.

    • Davin:

      As far as I know it will be coast to coast sometime in August.

  5. Greg:


    Don’t suppose there is any chance of this making it down south to the U.S.? I’m woefully light on good Canadian Whiskey and the local selection stinks.

    • Davin:

      Sorry Greg, I think it is limited to Canada.

  6. Yello to Mello:

    Im going to swing by Summerhill LCBO on my way home and pick one up as I just noticed they are in stock. I will post what I think of it here.

  7. Yello to Mello:

    Very good notes on this one Davin….soft nose, then bitter and spicy palate with the maple taking over after is what I got.

    I am going to have this soon head to head with 40creek BS or Copper Pot Reserve (good review there too)…I dont know… my first impression of this was a spicy 40 creek rather than something from the Gibson line.

    • Davin:

      Hi Y2M,
      What i really like with this one is that they were very judicious with the maple and used it to enhance the whisky notes instead of letting it take the whole thing over. I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say after you’ve tried it with the Forty Creek.

  8. mercedes:

    wondering what locations in edmonton,ab this is sold at.
    i need two bottles and cant seem to find them!

    • XXO:

      Just picked up a bottle at St. Albert South Liquor Barn, beside the Sobey’s on St. Albert Trail. They have a few other interesting Canadian whiskies, also got a Century Reserve 21. Nothing too crazy but decent selection.

  9. Sailor Joe:

    Wow, this whisky is sweet but not over powering. Perfect for the days when your palette demands it. Spectacular. Buy a few bottles before they’re gone.

    Gibson’s really knows what they’re doing overall.

  10. Alan:

    Where in Calgary can you purchase this? Thanks.

    • Davin:

      I poured it at Kensington Wine Market last week. I am sure they can get it for you if it is not already on the shelf.

      • Alan:

        Thanks Davin.

  11. ricardo:

    someone is asking about how old the Gibsons grey cup is – 12 years – just added a dozen of them to the old collection

    Davin, I guess you will be sad to hear that they are pretty well now out of the Stampede 100 year – ope you saved a few sleeves

    cheers and a safe holiday

  12. rob:

    Got this for a xmas present. How long will it last. I was thinking of saving it untill grey cup 2013.

    • Davin:

      It will still be good in 2013 or even 2113. I recently tasted a bottle from 1917 and it was pristine. I must say I admire your self control! ;-)

  13. Albert:

    Hi Davin, thank you for your excellent reviews. I always use them when I do my decisions about purchasing a new whisky. I just have a question: Why did not you give a rating score to the Gibson’s 100th Grey Cup edition? Thank you. Albert

    • Davin:

      Hi Albert,

      Thank you for reminding me that I need to score that whisky. I have tasted it many times and like it a lot. I have even poured it in some of my tastings and people were quite appreciative.
      Thanks also for your kind words about my website.


  14. Catherine:

    Please advise me where in BC can i buy the limited edition 100th Grey Cup Gibsons.

    Thank you.

    • Davin:

      Hi Catherine, Sorry, I write about whisky but I don’t sell it so I am not sure. Perhaps try a search on the BC Liquors website. Good luck!

  15. 2shrodes1cup:

    Although its sold out in the lickbow, I found a bottle at the peace bridge duty free. Score!

  16. brigitte:

    Hi. Looking for Gibson’s 100 Grey Cup edition.
    Where oh where can I find some !

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