Bridgeland Distillery St. Paddy’s 3X Pot Distilled Grain Spirit

As I start branching out into non-whisky spirit reviews, this week’s review highlights a trend that I am dying to see more of. As new distilleries get up and running at what seems like the rate of one a week, whisk(e)y nerds are champing at the bit to try their new make spirit. What is this exactly?

In a nut shell, new make spirit (some call it white dog and in Ireland it’s called Poítin) comes directly from the still after distillation has taken place. It is the starting place for all spirits. Before it is transferred to barrels for maturation, new make spirit which will eventually become whisky, bears a flavour profile unique to every distillery. Having the opportunity to try it is one of the highlights of any distillery tour, if they offer it at all. 

If a new make spirit isn’t of the highest quality, if it is mass produced or if there are impurities, there is nothing that it can hide behind. Not to put too fine a point on it, many a whisky barrel has helped to mask out the impurities of bad new make. But what about distillers, particularly at new distilleries, who love their new make so much that they want to share it with as many people as they can? 

This can be a great marketing tool to drum up interest in the distillery before their whisky comes of age, but it is still a niche market. That being said, if distillers can get bottles of new make into the right people’s hands, they can help put their whisky on the map before the first cask is emptied.

On tap this week is the St. Paddy’s 3X Pot Distilled Grain Spirit from Bridgeland Distillery. This new make spirit is created in the Irish Pot Still-style. The spirit is distilled three times instead of twice and is made from a mash of 58% malted barley, 30% un-malted barley, and 12% oats. (Aside, there’s a lot of history behind this Irish-style mash bill that I’ll be sure to cover in a future review). All of the grains come from Hamill Farms and Red Shed Malting in Penhold, Alberta. Before bottling, water is added to the spirit to bring it down to 42% ABV.

Nose: My experience with new make spirit is shockingly low and I have no experience with Irish Poítin. In short, I’m feeling my way forward here! I can only describe the nose as being akin to walking into a bakery when they are preparing bread early in the morning. It’s not baked bread, but freshly mixed dough left to rise. Next to that are fresh, crisp apples and maybe a pear or two. These notes make sense to me as they’re part of what I love about Irish single pot still-style whiskey. They’re singing to me loud and clear minus the toffee, caramel, cinnamon and vanilla, which come from its cask maturation. It’s a lovely fresh, clean character.

Palate: Because of its proof, the entry is a tad thin, but that doesn’t last long. A strong, slightly sweet apple character greets you at the beginning of the development. This transitions to a lightly grilled orange mixed with the crust of a freshly baked bread loaf. I honestly didn’t want this development to stop. The oats really kick in during the development as well. Very strong oatmeal vibes coming through. The oats are also adding to the creamy mouthfeel big time. There is a sweetness to this for sure, but it isn’t a toffee/caramel sweetness. Those come from the cask, which this hasn’t touched. Instead, it’s a fruity sweetness. The sweet/tart balance it pretty near perfect. The longer you hold this on your mouth, the dryer it becomes. 

Finish: Those grilled citrus notes carry all the way through the finish, which is way longer than I was expecting, given its proof.

With water added

That bread dough note is still there on the nose, but the crisp apple is even stronger than without water added. It kind of noses like porridge with a handful of Granny Smith apples mixed in. I’m also getting much more pear as well. The stronger pear note continues on the palate as well. The apple porridge is there, but the overall experience is much drier and slightly spicier. 


As Barney Gumble once said in The Simpsons, “Just connect it to my veins!” I cannot wait to try this after it has seen a year or two in the cask, just to see where these initial new make notes go. For now, I can tell you that my last half bottle of this isn’t going to last long.

I’m really happy that local distilleries, such as Bridgeland, as well as Anohka distillery outside of Spruce Grove, are proudly bottling their new make spirit for people to try. Let’s hope we see more new make on our shelves in the near future!

Instagram: @paul.bovis

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