Collingwood 21 year old rye. I first heard of this while conversing with Davin de Kergommeaux during the Twitter tastings that were held to promote his book Canadian Whisky: The Portable Expert. Now, Davin loves Canadian whisky so you need to take his enthusiasm for the category into effect when interpreting his comments on a particular whisky. And he was really enthusiastic about this. After doing a little reading online, I took his advice. “If you see it, buy two” to heart. It was getting close to Christmas 2013 at this point and I was doing a little shopping.
Yes, for others…but for me too.
We were in the area so I stopped off at Surdyk’s, a liquor store in Minneapolis to see if they had this particular treat. The parking lot had zero spaces and the streets were full of snow so I sent my wife in. She nicely bought me one bottle…
I forgot to tell her to get two. I didn’t say anything until we were on our way home. Mostly because I was sick of circling the block waiting for either her to come out or for a parking space to open up. After listening to the fact that Davin suggested we get two, she agreed to stop off somewhere on the way home to see if someone else had one. Luckily, they did.
But what is it? Collingwood whisky is a brand owned by Brown-Forman. This is a limited edition line extension of that brand. It is a 21 year old 100% malted rye whisky that was then vatted in a container containing maple wood staves and allowed to rest there for a year. It is produced at the Canadian Mist Distillery in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada. (See map below.) Having begun life as an experiment, what’s on the shelf is all there is. Even if Brown-Forman wanted to release more, we’d have to wait almost 20 years from now for there to be more to release.
As of today, it is still on Minnesota shelves. But, as this was a one time only production run, ever since then I’ve always had at least two bottles of this on hand. One open (or soon to be opened) and at least one in reserve. When I open one, I run to buy another so I always have a buffer for when it eventually runs out. To say I like this is a bit of an understatement.
Collingwood 21 Year Old Rye
Purchase Info: $54.99, 750 mL. Surdyk’s, Minneapolis, MN (Dec 14, 2013, I’ve bought this often, so we’ll go just with the first one as it is roughly the same price today at other stores.)
Details: 21 year old (age stated), 40% ABV.
Nose: Clothes that have been drying outside on the clothesline. Black tea. Faint hints of dill. After some time strong vanilla and caramel develop.
Mouth: Delicate. Sweet with hints of maple. Very strong floral presence. Vanilla bean ice cream. Some oak.
Finish: Delicate and gentle. Black tea (thinking unsweetened ice tea where your ice has melted), some mint, some caramel. A bit floral.
Thoughts: This is the third or fourth bottle I’ve bought of this and there is still one in my closet so that should tell you I love this one. I will admit that it isn’t for everyone—some people I know compare it to drinking perfume—so see if you can grab a taste of it before you drop almost $60 on it. To me, the disparate notes meld so well that this can be truly described as an exquisite whisky, but that's me. It isn’t for everyone.
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