Quick Review: Release 33 Canadian Single Malt Whisky

Two Brewers is a unique whisky for many reasons. One, it’s in the Yukon Territory in Canada which makes it one of the northernmost distilleries in the world right now. Second, it  was started by…you guessed it…two beer brewers who had started up Yukon Brewing after taking a canoe trip together. Third, it is the experimentation that they use daily in the distillery. Finally, it’s the way they release their whisky, in small batches, each uniquely numbered. The release in my glass today is #33 which comes from their “Special Finishes” line of releases. It was finished for three years in an ex-PX cask and was bottled at 58% ABV. This is also a single cask release, of which Two Brewers only does one or two a year.

In the glass: A nice burnt orange. Almost heading to a maroon tinge. A slight red hue around the edges of the liquid in the glass. There’s a nice shine to it under the falling natural daylight. Initial legs are medium in width and fairly slow to fall. The secondary legs are almost sitting still. I love the Two Brewers mouthfeel on their regular abv releases so this one should take that up a notch.

Nose: Upon first sniff this is definitely a Two Brewers whisky. It has a distinctive distillery characteristic note in both the nose and the palate that I find in almost every single release. And yup, it’s there front and centre in the initial nosing. The nose comes through with some heft. Some awesome fruit flavours, with a bit of banana and pear followed right away by some darker fruits. All of the notes in the nose are very “bright” and forthcoming. You don’t need to dig down too far to get a great nosing off the glass.

When I take a bit of a deeper breath in, I was able to find the peatiness come through along with some nice rich spice notes and a touch of maltiness.

Palate: Woah…this hits with every one of those proof points, but in the nicest way. The flavours explode in the mouth with a very nice effervescence that is quite intriguing. The ABV along with the slight peatiness, makes for a very strong first impression. This tingles the tongue and back palate almost forcing you to swallow. I notice my entire mouth is coated and this whisky is very creamy and almost buttery if melted butter also makes your cheeks and inside your lips almost feel a bit raw. Even though I found it on the nose, that characteristic note from Two Brewers isn’t immediately noticed at all. It might be due to the busy-ness of what’s going on here. The second sip allows a lot more actual notes to shine through. It hits with some nice wood tannins along with the spices that usually come with a decent, quality sherry cask. The dark fruits are more active on the second sip as well. That sherry sweetness shows beautifully, shaded only slightly by the spice notes.

Finish: This lasts a long time, mostly due to the full mouth coating character of this dram. The finish is almost all wood tannins and sherry spice, which is awesome.


I absolutely love Two Brewers, and that is no secret. I’d go so far as to say that they are the best whisky distillery in Canada and that isn’t hyperbole or exaggeration. I truly believe that the liquid they produce is the best stuff currently on the market in Canada. This latest single cask release just adds to the sky high impressions they have made on me. A whisky that hits heavy but with a ton of complexity and something new found on every sip. There aren’t too many releases from anywhere in the world that I personally classify as must-haves but this one falls into this category. I can not wait for the next single cask and hopefully I have the chance to pick one up.

Instagram: Sean Kinkaid (@darkcloudwhisky)

In-Depth Review: Hansen Northern Eyes Whisky

It seems that I have a little mini moonshining theme going on these days. Although Dariusz Plazewski, founder of Bimber Distillery (subject of my last two reviews) and Shayna Hansen, co-founder of Edmonton’s Hansen Distillery, grew up in different times, under different circumstances, and nearly half a world away from each other, their deep family connections to moonshining are uncannily similar. Shayna’s family moonshining roots were established during a time that made the financial crash of the late 2000’s a mere blip by comparison.

The Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 to 1939, was a time of great economic hardship for many North Americans. Unemployment reached as high as 25%, and those who were able to find work often earned very low wages. Many people struggled to make ends meet and were forced to find creative ways to make money. For some, this meant turning to illegal activities such as moonshining.

Moonshining involves the production of alcoholic beverages in unauthorized locations, often in the woods or in remote areas where law enforcement is less likely to discover the operation. During the Great Depression, many people turned to moonshining as a way to make a living, or at least supplement their income. The demand for alcohol, especially inexpensive alcohol, was high during this time, and moonshiners were able to meet this demand by producing and selling their own homemade spirits.

Despite the risks, moonshining remained a popular activity during the Great Depression. In some areas, it was even considered a necessity, as many people could not afford to purchase alcohol from licensed retailers. In rural areas, where the availability of legal alcohol was often limited, moonshining was a way for people to access the beverages they wanted.

The government attempted to crack down on moonshining during this period, but these efforts were often unsuccessful. Moonshiners were able to evade law enforcement by operating in remote locations and using stealthy tactics to avoid detection. In addition, many people were sympathetic to the plight of the moonshiners and were willing to turn a blind eye to their activities.

The end of the Great Depression in 1939 marked the beginning of the end for the moonshining industry. With the economy improving and people having more disposable income, the demand for illegal alcohol decreased. Additionally, the government implemented stricter laws and increased enforcement efforts, making it more difficult for moonshiners to operate.

Today, moonshining is still illegal in Canada and the US, although it is not as prevalent as it was during the Great Depression. While it is no longer seen as a necessity for many people, it remains a popular activity for some who are attracted to the illicit nature of the enterprise and the DIY aspect of producing their own alcohol.

For Shayna’s family, and many families like her’s, what started as a necessity in order to survive, continued through the generations as a hobby and finally as a legal business in Hansen Distillery. Sometimes breaking the law has benifits. There. I said it.

Released nearly three years ago as Edmonton’s first home-grown whisky, Hansen Distillery’s Northern Eyes Rye is distilled using 100% rye grain that originated from Blue Acres Farm near Stettler, Alberta. Each bottle comes from a single, charred, new American oak barrel and is aged for a little over three years. It’s bottled at 43% and sitting in my glass, just waiting to be nosed!

Nose: The first thing that stands out to me is this very subtle smokiness, which is something that I get on some young whiskies that have spent their entire life in new American oak. There is definitely a dill note in here, but it’s not strong. Also present is this nice, slightly dusty hay shed character. This is one of those rare instances where I get both caramel and sponge toffee at the same time. It’s not a very citrusy rye. That note is just lingering in the background. After this sits in the glass for a while, I get lightly toasted rye bread with a scraping of honey. Besides the usual cinnamon, I’m not getting other baking spices on the nose, which is kind of surprising given that this is 100% rye.

Palate: The entry is this nice balance between sweet and sour. A little bit of orange, caramel and vanilla, all in equal measure. Honey starts to creep in at the start of the development, but only just a tad. What I do get in spades is this remarkable note of dried tobacco leaves that you should only get in much older ryes. I had to keep going back for more sips to make sure my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me, but it keeps coming back. It’s subtle to start and just keeps building. It’s not smacking you in the face, though. This bitterness introduces a lovely balance along with the sweet and sour from the entry. This unique profile distracts from the fact that this is quite mild on the heat and baking spices, that latter of which I would liked to have seen more of. Towards the end of the development, the caramel has clearly become sponge toffee.

Finish: The tobacco note really helps to lengthen this out more than is usual for a young rye. A little bit of black pepper starts to seep in at the beginning as well as a tiny amount of bitter dark chocolate. There is still a little bit of honey left from the entry to prevent this from becoming too sour and bitter.

With water added

Demerara sugar has pushed the toffee and caramel into the background on the nose. There’s a slight leather note in here now. Again, shocking for such a young whisky. There’s some menthol too. Honey is much more prevalent on the entry compared with no water added. It’s creamier too. That sweeter entry is really drowning out that tobacco note and that lack of spice is still there as well. The experience just isn’t as characterful now.


To say that this does not have a young rye profile is certainly an understatement. Although I would have liked to have seen more spice, I know that these notes are much stronger in their five year releases (having tried a small sample recently). That tobacco note was so surprising. If there was such a thing as a cigar blend rye, this would be it.

Instagram: @paul.bovis

Sample Review: Pike Creek 21 Year Old Canadian Whisky – Oloroso Cask Finish

Image credit: Danh Tran (@whiskytran)

Time for a blast from the past. OK. OK. Three years ago. Courtesy of Danh Tran (@whiskytran), the sample in my glass is the Pike Creek contribution to the 2019 Rare Cask series (formerly Northern Border collection). This is a 21 year corn-heavy blended Canadian whisky that has been finished in ex-Oloroso casks and bottled at 45% abv.

Nose: This is corn-heavy Canadian whisky through and through. Corn flakes, caramel corn. You know…corn! The cask finish is what really sets this apart from other old Canadian whiskies. It’s actually quite subtle, but that good ‘ole milk chocolate fruit and nut bar is definitely detectable. Slight hint of prune as well. I’m not really getting much in the way of spicing, other than cinnamon. After sitting in my glass for a while, I’m getting a pretty heavy vanilla note.

Palate: Creamy milk chocolate and honey on the entry giving me a lovely mouthfeel to start. The transition to the development is slow and steady. The spices from the Oloroso really start to kick in mid-way through. A really nice dose of clove as I hold this in my mouth for a while. As I sip this more, I’m getting a substantial raisin note floating overtop of the spice. A little bit of citrus is arriving about half way through. The back end of the development is mildly drying as I head into the finish.

Finish: This is very baking spice rich to start, but that fades pretty soon after I swallow. This gives way to cocoa powder, which dissipates nice and slowly along with some lingering citrus.


This was kind of a steal when it was on the shelves. If memory serves me correctly, these were about $90-100 CAD in Alberta. Not bad, considering it’s age. I’m glad that the finish was subtle, so that the distillate still sbone through. The main contribution that the finish offers is the extra spice on the palate, which kicks the experience up a notch.

Instagram: @paul.bovis

In-Depth Review: Bridgeland Distillery Glenbow Canadian Single Malt Whisky

Image credit: ONI Studios (@oni_studios)

On opening a new distillery, the playbook usually calls for vodka and gin first, in order to keep the lights on while whisky is being distilled and aged for at least three years (by Canadian rules, at least). Many distilleries have made a name for themselves by travelling down this path, producing gins and liqueurs, in particular, that are unique, tasty and, above all, award winning. If anything, the hype generated from these creative offerings only builds the anticipation of a future whisky release that much more.

But there is an alternate path. One that draws upon the rich cultural history of the distillery founders and the spirits that are intertwined in decades, or even centuries-long traditions. This is exactly the approach that Bridgeland Distillery took when they opened their business back in 2018. Peruse the shelves in the distillery itself or browse the online store and you will find no sight or mention of neutral grain spirits or juniper berries anywhere. Instead you will see bottles labelled “eau de vigne”, “grappa” and brandy.

Among other things, it was this unique approach to spirits that garnered them Distillery of the Year at the Alberta Spirits Awards. Although whisky is always an important milestone for a young distillery, Bridgeland’s grape-based spirits are not a means to an end. Instead, it’s a nod to founders Jacques Tremblay and Daniel Plenzik’s Quebec and Italian cultures respectively. As well as their own personal backgrounds in winemaking and viticulture (grape vine cultivation), it made sense to head in that direction instead, leaving the production of gins to others.

Perhaps the only distillery in Canada to be producing it, Bridgeland makes several types of grappa, which is an Italian spirit derived from the skins, seeds, and stems of grapes. Brandy, which they also make, is derived from the grape juice, so nothing is wasted! Although Bridgeland tries to keep their ingredients as local as they can, Daniel and Jacques had to look one province over to the Okanagan region of BC for their grapes.

Whisky connoisseurs are becoming increasingly interested in the characteristics of a distillery’s new make. Bridgeland is more than happy to pique these people’s curiosity by offering several bottlings of their new make. Malted barley will  become their single malt. They usually offer a corn mash new make which also contains malted barley and/or wheat, which is used for their Taber Corn Berbon. Most intriguingly, Bridgeland is bottling their St. Paddy’s triple distilled new make in the Irish single pot still style. This includes a mash of malted and unmalted barley and a decent percentage of malted oats. They’re not the only ones in the province making this, and that’s no bad thing!

Speaking of whisky, let’s tack toward todays’s review. In mid-2022, Bridgeland started bottling their very first single malt using barley from a single field at Hamill Farm near Penhold, AB (south of Red Deer), which was then malted at Red Shed Malting (also in Penhold). Named Glenbow, Bridgeland’s single malt is named after a town of the same name. The rock quarries around Glenbow produced the stone that was used to construct many of Calgary’s first buildings. The whisky was matured for two years in new American oak barrels treated with a #3 char. The final year was spent in ex-Balcones Bourbon barrels from Texas. It’s bottled at 45.5% abv.

Nose: Lovely, rich malted cereal note for starters. The toffee sweetness from the initial maturation sits nicely along side it. A light red stone fruit is coming up now. That’s the new American oak talking again. I always get barley sugar candies on young single malt and this is no exception. A little bit of allspice for the spicing as well as cinnamon and dried ginger. The vanilla takes a while to reach out to my nose, but it’s there now. The citrus is present without being overbearing. This has a slight floral character to round everything out. Overall, this is light, yet characterful on the nose. Let’s see what a few sips offer.

Palate: Sweet, creamy honey is all over the entry and doesn’t let up throughout the whole experience. This brings me back to their Taber Corn Berbon, which has over 30% malted barely in their mashbill. Those rich cereal notes greet me again at the beginning of the development along with a bit of a floral twinge. There’s a lingering youthfulness, but there are other layers of flavour to compensate for it. As I sip this more, the fresh citrus from the nose has transformed into slightly bitter marmalade. This helps to offset the sweetness. The spicing on the back end of the development has become slightly darker and earthier with a dusting of nutmeg and even clove. I sense the beginnings of a spice cake note as this heads into the finish. This is something I get from American single malts, which are usually (but not always) matured in new American oak.

Finish: That spice cake character comes to fruition, but fades relatively quickly as the honey reappears. The black pepper isn’t overpowering, but you feel it all over your tongue. It’s also warming as you swallow.

With water added

The malty character of this whisky is much stronger now. The cracked black pepper has come forward a bit, tickling my nose a little. The honey is much more apparent now. Interesting that the entry isn’t as sweet (given what I got on the nose), but that warming, peppery sensation kicks in much earlier on the palate. That marmalade note is stronger, yet more bitter. There’s a nice balance between that, the spice and the sweetness. I’m missing that spice cake though. The finish is certainly longer.


Given the light character of this whisky, it was a smart move to transfer this to ex-Bourbon barrels after the first two years. Further maturation in new American oak would have swamped the delicate character of the distillate too much, I think. While this whisky was almost a bit too sweet for my palate, I really loved the bitter marmalade and particularly the black pepper, which helped to tamp that down a bit. Balance was the name of the game here and that’s always something that I appreciate.

Instagram: @paul.bovis

In-Depth Review: Bridgeland Distillery Taber Corn Berbon Spirit

Image credit: Bridgeland Distillery (@bridgelanddistillery)

When any small business opens its doors for the first time, making sure that they stay open depends upon a variety of factors. One of the most important is establishing a sense of community around your brand. Located in the heart of Calgary, the community of Bridgeland-Riverside’s small-town feel and independent spirit spans over a century. Although businesses have come and gone over the years, residents are fiercely loyal to local establishments and appreciate the creativity and diversity of their shops, restaurants and public spaces.

Having grown up in the Bridgeland community, Bridgeland Distillery co-founder, Daniel Pleznik knows this all to well. Bridgeland’s success has been recognized by all of the awards that their spirits have won over the last few years, including the 2021 Alberta Spirits Awards’ Distillery of the Year. But its sense of place within the local community has garnered a strong local following that allows the distillery to thrive and innovate.

That sense of community also translates to long-lasting partnerships further afield. The term grain-to-glass gets mentioned a lot when discussing craft spirits, but many times it’s just mentioned in passing without delving into what it means for each distillery. For Bridgeland, it means establishing relationships with local farms in order to source grains that are grown, harvested and even malted within the surrounding rich farmlands of southern Alberta. The barley for their Glenbow single malt whisky (review coming soon), for instance, originated from a single family farm (Hamill Farms in Penhold, south of Red Deer).

Bridgeland Distillery’s logo, which depicts the nearby Reconciliation Bridge (formerly Langevin Bridge), is itself a reflection of the surrounding community. It is both a symbol of its ability to connect the population of Bridgeland-Riverside in a literal sense as well as bringing Calgarians and Indigenous Peoples together to remember past harms and heal historical injustices. It is times like these when inclusive communities make this world a better place.

The Bridgeland Distillery spirit in my glass today isn’t yet a whisky, but it’s well on its way to becoming one. The Taber Berbon Spirit is their take on a Bourbon-style mashbill, but with a very unique twist. Using 60% corn from Molnars Farm in Taber, 32% malted barley and 8% wheat (the latter two from Hamill Farms), the mashbill lacks the rye grain that typically gets used in this style of spirit. The high barley content reflects an interesting little trend that features a grain that usually exists as less than 10% of the mashbill in most Bourbons. This release is aged in new American oak (#4 char) for one year and is bottled at 45% abv.

Image credit: Bridgeland Distillery (@bridgelanddistillery)

Nose: This nose will be very familiar to those that have tried other high-barley Bourbons, such as those produced by Boulder Spirits. Yes, there is a slight buttery popcorn vibe, but lying underneath is an almost Scotch-like feel. This presents itself in the form of light tropical notes of mango and mandarin orange as well as barley sugar and a light scent of cocoa powder. The dusty grain bin note that I get from young wheat spirit is very faint. The barrel has obviously not fully taken hold, but there is a little bit of vanilla and sponge toffee sweetness to let you know it’s there.

Palate: The entry is buttery with a slight honey sweetness. A little vanilla cream is in there, for sure. The transition into the development introduces orchard fruits alongside the citrus. Mostly ripe pears. Mid-development brings back that cocoa powder I got on the nose. What starts out as light caramel transitions to dark sponge toffee at the end of the development.  This is actually spicier than I was expecting, given its proof and mashbill with cinnamon, ginger and even a grating of nutmeg and a crack of fresh black pepper.

There is definitely a youthful grain character to this spirit, yet it doesn’t come off as harsh in any way. That’s a testament to the new make, which I really should try sometime. There’s so much going on here that it’s sometimes difficult to concentrate on it all.

Finish: Medium in length and a lovely balance between sweet, spice, sour and bitter. It’s really a combination of all the notes from the development fading in unison.

With water added

The char from the barrel is a little stronger with a few drops of water. The citrus shows up as a lemon/lime drop candy note. There’s a fresh cut hay character as well. Honestly, I would never guess that I’m nosing a spirit that was made with a Bourbon-style mash right now. There’s a nice floral nature to this too. The entry is a little sweeter with floral honey. Gone is the pear, replaced by quite a strong apricot note. The cocoa powder has faded significantly, but the dial has been turned up on the ginger.


This one caught me completely off guard. I had a preconceived notion that this was going to be a light, sweet spirit with a strong grainy youthfulness. That did not turn out to be the case whatsoever. There are some youthful moments here and there, but the quality of the new make and the uniqueness of the mashbill gave me some delightfully unexpected turns along the way. I will keep a very keen eye on this spirit as it transforms into a whisky. So should you.

Instagram: @paul.bovis

In-Depth Review: Strathcona Spirits Pedro’s Dreamland Whisky

Image credit: Chelsey Balec (@chelbel)

Close your eyes for a moment and transport yourself back to primary school (for those of you in Alberta whom this memory is so fresh that it’s less than six years ago, please stop reading ;-P). Ready for a quick math lesson? What’s the area of a building floor roughly 8 m long and 8 m wide? 64 sq m (~750 sq ft)! For those of you who did that without Siri, Google Home or Alexa, one bonus point for you.

Now think what you could stuff in there. Bachelor pad, small retail space, two car garage…distillery?!

Amazing as it may sound, that’s about how large (or small) Strathcona Spirits distillery is. Within that diminutive space, North America’s smallest distillery manages to carry out all the processes involved in making spirits, right down to the bottling and labelling (although some maturation occurs offsite). One of these days, I’m going to have to take a tour and just witness how all of that is possible.

This isn’t the only restriction that founder Adam Smith had to navigate in order to bring Strathcona Spirits to fruition. It’s been less than ten years since the Alberta Goverment passed a law that even allowed craft distilleries such as Strathcona Spirits to exist. Prior to this, a distillery had to produce 2,500 hL (250,000 L or 1,250 American standard barrels) of spirit a year. A prohibitive amount for all but the mega-distilleries, like Alberta Distillers in Calagary.

Being Edmonton’s (capitol of our province, for those of you outside of Canada) first distillery, further hurdles lay in their path. In 2016, the year the distillery was established, stores selling liquor had to be 500 m away from each other. Unfortunately, Strathcona Spirits fell within some other store’s radius, but the regulation was finally loosened so that the distillery could sell their expressions on-site.

For those of us, including myself, who have only seriously been into whisky and other spirits for just a few years, it’s hard to imagine just how much effort and determination it has taken to get to this point. A point where we can bask in all of the choice that our province’s craft distilleries, such as Strathcona Spirits, have to offer, no matter what tipple you desire.

Part of Strathcona Spirits’ Dreamland releases, the whisky in my glass today is the Pedro’s Dreamland. This release is a blend of five charred new American oak quarter casks. Three contained 100% Hard Red wheat, one contained 100% rye and one contained a mashbill of 74% Hard Red wheat and 26% rye. The whisky was aged for 2.5 years before being finished in ex-Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks for 1.5 years. It’s bottled at 46.66% abv.

Image credit: Chelsey Balec (@chelbel)

Nose: Young, high-wheat whiskies have such a distinctive smell. More than any other type, it has this slightly dusty grain bin character that I can really get behind. There’s enough cask influence to not make it tip too far that way though. I’m getting a pretty strong frosted mini-wheat vibe from this as well. The nose evolves quite a bit after this has sat in the glass. I’m getting some cherry filling, like you would find in a turnover pastry. A light sponge toffee is starting to come up now as well as some sweet cinnamon. It took a while, but I’m finally getting some of the PX cask. Dark chocolate nut bar with a couple of raisins.

I love how this whisky evolves over time in the glass. I’m surprised that I’m not getting more of the cask finish on the nose, but I think the palate might correct that. Let’s see!

Palate: Yep. I was right (engage smug mode). The dried dark fruit hits the tip of my tongue almost straight away. Prunes mostly, but also some raisins. It’s not a Sherry bomb, though. There’s a nice balance between the spirit, initial maturation and the PX finish. The entry gives me some orange vanilla cream after a few sips. The development brings back some of that young wheat character I got off the nose along with the sponge toffee. The dark fruit and nut bar is now more milk chocolate. The backend of the development isn’t all that spicy. Not surprising given the dominant grain. Still, the casks deliver a small dose of cinnamon and a touch of clove.

Finish: This fades a little faster than I would like, but it is still well balanced. The chocolate and toffee keep the sweetness chugging along. A light pepper tingles the tongue at the end.

With water added

Quite an evolution with a few drops of water added. Lots more toffee and what I can only describe as a cherry flavoured sugar cereal. Cherry bon bons too. There’s less of the grain bin character that I got without water. I actually get more of the PX cask on the palate. Much more chocolate at the beginning. This fades a little starting mid-development, but is replaced by the dried fruit. The spice is turned up a bit at the end of the development. The youthful grain character has been reduced. I almost want a little more of it, to be honest. The slightly spicier finish has been lengthened a bit.


This whisky was a little bit unbalanced when I first popped the cork. It was a bit too grain forward and I was getting very little of the barrel finish. I only say this in case anyone else experiences the same thing and becomes disappointed too quickly. I never judge or review a whisky until it’s been open for at least a week and has been drained past the shoulder of the bottle. Instead, get to know it a little, share with friends or just sip and binge Netflix while it’s snowing outside. Notice how it changes and, more often than not, you’ll turn that frown upside down.

I had a similar experience with their Prairie Dreamland release (their first whisky), which was finished in Cognac and Armagnac casks. It took a couple of weeks to open up. After that it was lovely.

The choice of casking here was a smart one. Dumping this into quarter casks helped to turbo charge the contact with the wood, imparting the flavours from the cask much faster. Finishing these Dreamland whiskies in casks that add dried fruits, chocolate and darker baking spices really helps to balance out the strong grain notes from the predominantly wheat spirit. After some patience, this whisky delivered a nice, balanced experience that Strathcona Spirits is quickly gaining a reputation for.

Instagram: @paul.bovis

Eau Claire Single Malt Batch 5 review

Located in the heart of Turner Valley, Alberta, Eau Claire Distillery is part of the distilling revolution that is spreading quickly through Alberta. Open since 2014 and originally focusing on white spirits, their single malt whisky has generated a cult following among Canadian whisky fans. Their farm to glass philosophy allows them to showcase the very best ingredients that Alberta has to offer.

Now in its fifth release, this batch is a blend new Hungarian oak, ex-Sherry and ex-Bourbon barrels. There is no age statement, but has to be at least three years old and is bottled at 43% with no chill filtration or added color.

Nose: The orchard fruits stand out straight away. Fresh cut red apples mostly, but also a slice of pear. There is also a dominant, grain-forward note that reminds me of a young Irish single malt. I get a touch of barley sugar candies along with that. There is a light honey note that has settled into the background as this sits in the glass. There’s some orange in here, but it’s more like a mandarin rather than a navel orange. Ginger and cinnamon are the only spices I get. I’d say the vast majority of this whisky matured in ex-Bourbon, but there is enough of that Hungarian oak to tingle the nose a little. I can’t say I am getting any ex-Sherry influence at all.

Palate: The one thing I notice right away is how creamy this feels right off the bat. One of the creamiest mouthfeels I have had in a long while. It’s creamy honey poured over apples and pears on the entry. That stays on the palate for the whole experience. The development is all about the grain and oak. Malted cereal and barley sugar dominate initially, but then the Hungarian oak kicks in. It’s not overpowering and there’s a nice balance between the wood, the sweetness and the grain. Clove joins the ginger and cinnamon.

Finish: The Hungarian oak is nicely balanced by the lingering sweetness in a nice medium finish. Earthy nutmeg joins the other baking spices here, giving me an early Christmas vibe. As the finish progresses, I’m getting a cocoa powder note that actually builds rather than recedes. The creaminess hangs on to the end.

With water added…

The new Hungarian oak is much stronger now, as is the youthful grain note. This isn’t an issue for me seeing as I love young whisky when it’s presented like this. That barley sugar note is strong with this one now. The orchard fruits are still there, but are in the background now. The palate is still creamy, but the youthfulness of this whisky is really starting to show now. It’s too grain-forward and the oak is a little dominant for me. I’m missing a richness that I enjoyed without water being added. The sweetness barely hangs on during the back end of the development. With water, the finish is the best part of the experience. That cocoa note, which love, remains on the finish.


This was my first whisky from Eau Claire and I like what I see from here. The youthful maltiness and the choice of barrels really works. Too much ex-Sherry and Hungarian oak would have swamped the delicate character of this whisky. Also, I never would have guessed that this was only 43%. What surprised me the most was how creamy this dram is. I would definitely recommend this without any water added as the balance was thrown off a bit. Overall, this was everything that I love about a young whisky and can’t wait to try their next release.

Instagram: @paul.bovis

Two Brewers Release 27 and 28 review

Two Brewers Release 27

Type: Innovative
ABV: 46%
Released: August 2021

It’s no secret that I have an immense love for all things Two Brewers. From the people behind the brand, to the always increasing profiles of their whisky, to the absolutely unique and interesting things that they continue to try with each release, it easily takes my top spot of all Canadian whisky brands.

Release 27 is exactly what I am talking about. If you know the story behind how Two Brewers started, and clearly by their name itself, it was started by the people who were already established in the beer business with Yukon Brewing. They took that background and absolutely shoved it into the formation of this whisky.

Release 27 has Vienna, Munich, Honey and roasted malts. These are all primarily malts used almost exclusively in the beer brewing industry.  Some of this whisky started out in virgin oak barrels to start, and then spent the rest of its time in ex-Bourbon barrels. They were married in ex-peated barrels for 19 months.  It has 6, 7, 9, 10 and 11 yr old mashes in it with roughly 1/3 being 10 years or older. Yup I’d say that’s pretty experimental and unique cask usage and now I will let you know what all of this ends up like in a finished bottle of whisky.

In the glass, this has the appearance of a lighter Red style beer (hehehehe) with medium to long legs that slowly fall down the glass.

Nose: This hits with malt up front. I guess that’s not a surprise knowing what’s making up the whisky. There is some nice honey sweetness. Almost like a raw honey type note. Behind that follows some vanilla and caramel. Funnily enough, as I start to pick up the wood/cask influence I also get a whiff of fresh dark roasted coffee. I swear I pick up that fresh virgin oak cask influence right at the end on a deep inhale. The nose on this whisky has me curious and very interested in diving in. 

Palate: First sip and immediately I get all that malt up front as well. Malt with a honey glaze over it. Like Honey Nut Cheerios with extra honey. There’s a slight tingle and even though it’s only 46% abv, it almost drinks heavier, which I am totally okay with. This whisky reveals layers upon layers as it moves back on the tongue. I swear I can taste a faint actual beer note on my tongue right now. Bourbon type notes pop up mid palate, some dark fruits mixed with a slight blood orange/mandarin taste and then that spice from virgin oak comes through. Cinnamon and clove and a slight hint of spiced up toasted coconut just as it starts to fade into the finish.

Finish: The finish on this beautiful whisky carries the spice notes through and the sweetness returns with that mandarin orange and cinnamon. This is the only time that I even slightly think I catch a whiff of any smoke at all, but it’s long after the swallow and it’s found on the residual flavours left in the mouth.


Wow. What a whisky. Layers, balance, beautiful cask usage, experimental malt usage. The proof is in the bottle. Literally for me as this one is being drank faster than most bottles I open. I am saying right now, this is my sleeper hit of the year in whisky. I love this bottle!!

Two Brewers Release 28

Type: Special Finishes
ABV: 46%
Released: September 2021

This one is a mix of 7 year old and 10+ year old mashes. All of the Whisky is a standard malted barley mash. It spent 5 months in virgin oak barrels, then it was moved to ex-Bourbon barrels. Finally, it spent 2 years in Hungarian oak sherry barrels. After spending 2 yrs in sherry barrels, it was blended with a standard 12 year old mash. Clearly this is NOT your standard sherry casked whisky.

In the glass this has a dark copper to light rust colour. Thin but long lasting legs coat the glass and clearly hint at an oily masterpiece awaiting me.

Nose: On the nose I am immediately hit with familiar sherry notes, but not at all a sherry bomb. This is dusty sherry spice-coated fruits with a nice malt backbone. Even the fruits aren’t the typical plums, raisins and prunes. Brighter fruits, more lush ripe juicy fruits. I even find a faint note of Nag Champa incense at the tail end of the nose. That sherry sweetness fills out the very end of the nose right before I take another whiff. I have no idea what to expect on the palate now but I am excited to find out.

Palate: Just a small sip to wet the palate and the beautiful sherry spice comes across strongest. Very mouth coating and viscous. A bigger sip and let it rest a bit and the fruity side of sherry comes through stronger. But again, I’m not finding the typical darker, drier fruits. Juicy almost sub-tropical notes of creamy ripe mango, like a mango milkshake. I also get that Hungarian oak spice with some added cinnamon. There is also a slight saltiness, which I can’t explain but it’s there, sitting right after the spice. There is a beautiful play between that salt and the sweetness and it’s gorgeous. As this starts to fade on the swallow, that spice and salt meld as they fade and turn into a salted dark cocoa/chocolate note. I find this as I chew on the finish and let it build up again.

Finish: The finish is long and bold and that dusty old style sherry finally shows right at the end and that cocoa/sherry is what carries on through the whole finish.


This one on first sip was surprising as it wasn’t at all what I expected from the sherry casking. I am so happy it isn’t a simple sherry cask whisky. This one you need to sit with and contemplate. This isn’t a background whisky at all. It needs your attention and demands it. Two Brewers shows, once again, why they deserve to be at the top of the Canadian whisky landscape. No one else is doing the things they are doing and we are the lucky recipients of release after release of absolutely stunning whisky. Look for a future review of release 29 which the cold northerly air has whispered to me could be even more special than normal.

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