Proof Whisky from Canada

Proof Whisky (42% alc./vol) – Canadian Whisky Preview

August 4, 2010


A new Canadian whisky from Toronto’s Proof Brands has been showing up quietly on LCBO shelves for the past couple of weeks.  Proof whisky has now found its way into 132 LCBO locations, although most of them have very small quantities. A promotion begins on August 15 and the whisky will be available for tasting at Whisky Live Toronto on October 22. Although it is made in Alberta, so far it is available for sale in Ontario only. The news release included below arrived today so, here is a very preliminary preview based on one quick tasting:

The very expressive nose starts out with lemon cough drops. The palate, which is also quite expressive, has nicely balanced wood, rye spices, pepper, and citric notes. Although it is not as spirity as you might expect in a mixer, this is definitely mixing whisky, not a sipper, and will deliver lots of whisky flavour in a mixed drink.

The nose is sweetly floral, almost like baby powder, rich in citrus candy, but with faint farm smells such as hints of cow barn and hay. It is not overly sweet, but it has many candyish overtones. For example, there are hints of wax lips candy, Ceres red grape juice, and sweet lemon pie filling. As well, distinct rye notes include a typical rye earthiness along with vague hints of cinnamon, but you have to look for them.

The palate starts out with lilacs and violets then very quickly moves on to lemon cough medicine and hot white pepper. The pepper dominates leaving a nice burn on the tongue, and it is nicely supported by a fruity sweetness and lots of floral notes. This is not overly complex whisky, in fact it’s not complex at all. Towards the end there are hints of marshmallow and a citric zestiness that really seems to work with the pepper.

The finish is medium to short, very peppery and hot, with a slight tannic astringency.

This is not a connoisseur’s whisky, nor does it pretend to be. It’s summer whisky for parties, barbeques, and the cottage. Its citric and floral notes will add zip and breadth to a cocktail that you just can’t get with vodka. It reminds me of a sweetish version of White Owl (White Owl is a new top-end “clear whisky” mixer from Highwood that is selling so well out West the distillery can barely keep up with demand).

Anyway for now, let’s let the folks who sell proof whisky tell us about it.

The News Release:

Indisputable Proof, the hottest whisky of the summer!

Toronto, On – August 4, 2010: As summer is in full effect, proof brands inc. is proud to announce the launch of proof whisky, the 1st 500ml on the market…just the right size, not too small, not too big…the perfect size for entertaining. “Great things come in small packages.” Proof whisky will help you make delicious cocktails and be the talk of the town. This deluxe product is an “Affordable Luxury” that will be available soon for only $19.95 at an LCBO near you!

proof whisky sets itself apart from the rest

One urban whisky in a hip new 500 ml size! The blend of Canadian prairie rye and wheat is distilled with pristine spring water from the Canadian Rockies. It is then aged to perfection in charred oak barrels, to create its sophisticated sweet and smoky flavours. Proof is bottled at 42% alc./vol., to give it that extra edge.

Keep your guests on the edge of their seats; proof whisky is only the beginning for proof brands inc. They will also be launching a new vodka and rhum in the coming months.


31 Responses to “Proof Whisky (42% alc./vol) – Canadian Whisky Preview”

  1. Mike:

    Speaking of Highwood, who wants to bet that that is where Proof is distilled?

  2. Mike:

    I just picked up a bottle of Proof. Strange stuff indeed. I can’t say I’ve ever had a whisky with the same characteristics. The lemon note you described is immediately evident. It comes across as candy-ish but also astringent, like all-purpose lemon cleaner. I also get a familiar smell of some sort of fruit drink crystals; orange Tang? The flavour, I find, has herbaceous elements of pine and juniper; is this whisky or gin? Again, strange.

    You nailed it when you said it is a mixer. Straight up, it is some rough stuff. Tastes very young and raw to me. An ice cube helps mitigate the burn. My motto is that any whisky worth drinking is worth drinking straight, so I’m not sure I would buy Proof again. Also, at its price point it in the same bracket as Crown Royal, Wiser’s Small Batch and Century Reserve 15 years+. I doubt it would stand up to that sort of compeition in any sort of head-to-head.

    It is also interesting that they just call it Proof Whisky. By not specifying it as Canadian Whisky, do they perhaps sidestep certain regulations regarding age and composition? This is pure speculation, of course.

    • Davin:

      Hi Mike,
      I’m sure it is Canadian whisky. As far as I know, in Canada you can’t put the word whisky on a label unless it meets or exceeds regulations. For example, some American whisky can’t be labelled ‘whisky’ up here.
      Their vodka is called proof vodka and their rum – proof rum. It’s just a name as far as I know. All are at 42%.
      Yeah, it’s not a sipper, but I can see people at a barbeque going through quite a bit of it, mixing it and enjoying the citric kick. They recommend mixing with pear juice.

  3. Andrew:

    I have literally just purchased and sampled Proof Whisky, and I have to say that it is an exceptional Rye Whisky. It seems to be very high in citrus notes with both scent and taste and incredibly smooth!

    • Davin:

      Hi Andrew,
      This Proof whisky is getting lots of good comments from people whose palates I really respect. I’m glad you like it.

  4. Andrew:

    It is also amazing straight up and served neat.

  5. SAM:

    I have recently purchased proof whisky and throughly enjoyed its unique taste.I was attrated to it for three reasons-size of bottle,sophisticated packaging and it was Canadian…not in that order
    It lived up to its name the proof is in the tasting-well done proof brands.
    I hear you are coming out with other spirit drinks -what will they be and when?

    • Davin:

      Hi Sam, A lot of people seem to like Proof whisky and it is quite unique as you say. I understand they have a rum and a vodka which will be presented in the same style of packaging. Not sure when they’ll be released though.

  6. Shaun:

    Where is this stuff made or should I say bottled? The LCBO website says Alberta but my friend in the business in Alberta said it is not available there and it is an open market so if it was made there it would be sold there?
    He also said he phoned Highwood Distillers and they do not have anything to do with it.
    Rum is obviously imported, Canadian Whisky has to be aged so they are definitely not a distillery but a bottler buying bulk and packaging & marketing someone else’s liquids.

    • Davin:

      Hi Shaun,
      You have hit the nail right on the head!

      If only more small Canadian beverage companies would follow this example. Independent bottlers of Scotch single malts and blends have found so much success bringing outstanding independent bottlings to market and whisky drinkers around the world have benefited from this. I’m talking about small batches (really small), custom blends, and even single cask bottlings that simply are not worth the while of major distillers who rely on economies of scale to keep their operations efficient.

      There are so many fantastic Canadian whiskies that we will never taste sitting in barrels waiting for some small entrepreneur to bring them to market either as straight whiskies, as Dave Pickerell has done so spectacularly with WhistlePig, or as blends as the proof folks are doing with their custom-blended whisky.

      Proof whisky is distilled, aged, and blended in Alberta. Sometimes distilleries don’t identify a product that strays from their established flavour profile. They leave it to the bottler to do that. And sometimes bottlers don’t identify the source of their whisky preferring to keep the spotlight on the brand.

      Proof whisky is custom blended. There is nothing else like it on the market and the response shows it is finding its own niche. It is too bad proof is not available in Alberta. Perhaps the company is choosing to concentrate their marketing efforts on one region at a time so as not to become spread too thin.

  7. Ness Williams:

    This is a superbly blended whisky. A real treat as a gift for the holidays. I gave away 5 bottles for Christmas and evryone loved it.

  8. [...] Riley, President of the still relatively new brand Proof whisky, said that his product was made for this kind of crowd, riht down to the design of the [...]

  9. Dave:

    Just trying Proof tonight. I have been drinking mostly scotch lately, but this is a nice change, definitely a different taste. I really enjoy your site and reviews – thank you for the time you put in, I will take your reviews into consideration on my next purchase at the LCBO.

    • Davin:

      Thanks for your comments Dave. I do enjoy running the site and notes of appreciation help keep it fun.

  10. Wayne Vermette:

    Are you kidding? A “mixing” whisky? This whisky will soon be the replacement for scotch drinkers. Try a shot on the rocks and you’ll see. I’m an old rye and coke drinker from the West as well as an old scotch drinker. My doc says “no more pop drinks for you” (threat of diabetes and poor glucose absorption). Straight rye really didn’t do it for me. Too harsh with a I switched.

    Proof will definitely satisfy the scotch drinkers crave for a smooth gulp of all the descriptions in your promo. I just ran out and I’ll be a Proof whisky drinker from now on. Besides, it tastes great and the price is better than Johnny Walker.

    Good name too, Proof that we can produce as fine a whisky as anyone.


    • Davin:

      Hi Wayne, It seems a lot of people agree with you.

  11. mitch:

    Just had a couple of shots of this stuff with a wedge of peach…wow. It goes down fine as frogs hair..which is what we are now calling it. “Frogs Hair”

  12. Stephen:

    I just bought a bottle of Proof here in Alberta. It is wonderfully unique. I found the odor almost like perfume and the smokey aftertaste hinted at bourbon. Real nice straight, but delicious with a splash of water. I usually drink Canadian Club Classic and this is a fabulous alternative.

  13. Tammy:

    I have been a rye whiskey drinker for years – I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with this blend. It has quite a refreshing flavor to it with the citrus kick. Definitley a nice blend to enjoy again.

  14. SD:

    I have have to say,…I’ve been basically trying every colour of the rainbow when its comes to rye this summer..and Proof surprisingly has been the top contender. I’m a mixer so rye and ginger all the way and lately I’ve stopped my taste testing and stuck with Proof. Its just very smooth and the hint of citrus mixes pleasantly with ginger. Scary thing though…cause half and half’s are very easy to consume lol.

  15. Terry Maukonen:

    I have always stored my bottles ( Rye, vodka, rum )
    in the freezer and no nothing ever froze – was kind of surprised to find yours had turn slushy in a freezer that I can’t keep ice cream in. Kind of puzzled

  16. [...] toffee pudding from Tuxedos and T-Shirts (@chefsteveS). There was also a booze booth hosted by Proof that was serving homemeade apple and pear cider spiked with whiskey. It was legen… wait for [...]

  17. Alistair:

    I am enjoying this whiskey neat, and disagree that it’s a mixer, unless that’s what you drink.

    There are so many flavours and after effects that I’m at a loss presently to name them all. lemons, celery, orange, and tannins.

    Very nice, keep up the good work.

    • Davin:

      Hi Alistair,
      I have heard similar comments from a number of other people as well. As long as you enjoy it, who cares what someone else thinks?

  18. Tim:

    Xcellent product, Xcellent bottle, Xcellent lable. This is one of the best Ive had in a long time. CHEERS!!!

  19. Bailey:

    A sometime scotch on the rocks drinker, I’ve ditched the pricey stuff and, recently inspired by Lance Mayhew’s About article, “5 Great Canadian Whiskies”, began my Great Canadian Whisky Tour. Which is my name for looking for the best Canadian sipper for the (relatively) least amount of money. :)

    I started with CR Reserve, moved on to Collingwood, and then Proof. I gotta say, it’s not a sipper for me. I found the nose a bit overwhelming and the smell of banana and taste of lemon outside of my custom. However, I do appreciate it’s unique characteristics (I’m a fan of laphroaig and lagavulin after all, if you’ll pardon the dubious comparison), and it’s been an interesting and worthwhile diversion on my tour if not quite what I’m gunning for. Thanks Proof!

    • Davin:

      Keep looking, there’s plenty more where that came from.

  20. Piers:

    Just saw this for the first time ever in Calgary..

  21. This was quite unlike anything I have tasted in the whisky world (so far, at least). Wheat does seem to have a remarkable quality for some really interesting flavours that I think are a bit unexplored. Then again, rye can also be remarkably floral, fruity, and light…regardless, however they crafted this one, it is quite unique!

    While I keep a few of my favourite whisky bottlings consistently in my collection, I usually rotate the whisky I mix. However, this is the first whisky I found that I want to regularly stock – for mixing. Proof has certainly done their job well.

  22. Robert:

    I’m a big fan of spirits and enjoy discovering new and interesting products. Proof did not disappoint. It’s so different from any type of whiskey I have ever tried in a really good way. For some reason this reminded me of my favorite vodka Ciroc. The crisp citrus flavor blew me away. The taste is so clean and smooth that I couldn’t imagine mixing this exquisite gem. I can’t wait to pair it with cheese, foie gras, sausage and even oisters. Hope we can find it in Quebec in the near future.

  23. Luigui:

    I just buy a bottle and i really like it.. It taste really good i will buy it again for sure .. Cheers

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