Pike Creek 15 Year Old Cabernet Sauvignon Finish – A Foreign Affair (that’s not foreign at all, or very affair-ish), but it is delicious!

Due to COVID times and its affect on premium whisky sales, we will not be seeing a 2020 release of the Northern Border Collection. As unfortunate as this is, I’m glad to see Dr. Don Livermore and team come in with a few new whisky releases for the year. Pike Creek 15 Year Old is one of these new limited releases (LCBO only).

Wine cask finishes are no longer scandalous, but let’s pretend this one is a little more salacious than most. The story goes something like this—Corby owns Hiram-Walker distillery, and has purchased Foreign Affair Winery (Niagara-on-The-Lake). They took a whisky distilled in 2004, the first vintage the winery released, and finished this Canadian whisky with Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. Maybe not a risqué move in 2020, but it’s certainly serendipitous. 

The result is a Canadian whisky that’s been tempered and challenged by a ridiculously fun wine barrel influence. I have fond memories of Foreign Affair Winery. My dogs have made themselves at home running around between rows of grapes (with the owner’s permission), while I enjoyed some of their delicious wines on their patio. Their wines were always a little weird, funky, and sometimes otherworldly.

There are only going to be 2058 bottles sold, and so this is quite literally a limited release, but don’t discount future 15 year old Pike Creek variations (Sidenote: I have no information one way or another on this, just a guess on my end). Don Livermore and his team at Corby keep turning out terrific Canadian whisky. 

For other reviews, have a look at the Toronto Whisky Society and In Search of Elegance

Pike Creek 15 Year Old Cabernet Sauvignon Finish
Distillery: Hiram-Walker
Category: 15 Year Old Canadian Whisky, Wine Cask Finish. 
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Nose: Granny apple, caramel, barrel char, dark chocolate, black tea, a steak dry rub (pepper, touches of paprika, oregano, cumin, maybe a toss of brown sugar), ginger, and a lingering of a flat cola-like smell. There’s a ton going on here. A complex knows doesn’t always mean a great whisky, so let’s have a taste. 

Palate: Dark chocolate, buttery, paprika spice, herbal notes (along with what’s on the nose, with some oregano and cumin), and a caramel sweetness. The acidity is there, likely blood orange, but it’s mostly masked by the richness of a dark chocolate note. The sweetness is that boozy cherry sweetness, but not your typical cherries; these are the artisanal sweet syrupy cherries you use for your most fav manhattan cocktail recipe. It’s great. One of the things that I enjoy about many Hiram-Walker products from Corby’s is that mouth-watering drinkability to them. This one has it in spades. The finish is buttery, spicy, sweet, and tangy. 

Conclusion: This is a whisky critic’s drink. It’s a war in a glass. The battle is between a well-aged Canadian whisky and these huge funky barrel influences. It’s a fun match to taste. The flavours will change slightly depending on the temperature in the room; colder, and you’ll get more rye and acidic notes. Warmer; you’ll get more red apple and sweeter notes. The wonderful orange citrus is in a constant battle with the sweetness, but it never gets syrupy. There’s so much going on in a glass, that you’ll get something a little different each time. If you choose to. If you don’t, and you just want to enjoy a drink casually, Pike Creek 15 Year Old deliver that too. The cask influences are certainly there, but they’re not overpowering, and there are lots of flavours to keep going back to. I have little doubt this will be one of the top new releases from Canada in 2020. It’s that good. 

Disclaimer: Corby provided me with a bottle for this review. I have since purchased my own.

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