Canadian whisky has always been a headscratcher for me, even before I started getting into whisk(e)y proper. The admittedly few expressions I’ve indulged in have either left me unenthused or wincing like Sam from the early days of I Whiskey She Wines. Perhaps the relative obscurity surrounding Canadian whisky is partly to blame; other than needing to be mashed and distilled in Canada, aged a minimum of three years, and bottled at 40% ABV or higher, the requirements are overwhelmingly broad.
This brings us to Caribou Crossing, the alleged “Canadian Blanton’s” thanks to its single barrel nature, hand-bottled process, ornate bottle design, and producer (Sazerac). Such a designation is more than enough to get flippers excited, and it’s apparently shown. Caribou Crossing has an MSRP of around $50, but searching online can yield sites asking $200 (or more) for a fifth. Sazerac may be leaving a lot of money on the table, but hype levels are nary a concern. Is any of it warranted? Time to find out.
A sample was provided by a fellow whiskey enthusiast.
Nose: Simple. Brown sugar, lemon, orange, and vanilla. Get a medicinal astringency. A sprinkling impression of oak throughout, but it’s woefully watered down and/or undeveloped. Faint trace of artificial coconut. Airy; reminiscent of club soda.
Palate: Watery and slightly dry. Mild touches of oak, coconut, brown sugar, and diluted lemon citrus. Pineapple gummy bears and dried/stale marshmallows with a vague, dry oak undercurrent. Still has that odd club soda essence.
Finish: Brief. Taps of oak, corn/grain, and barely sweet coconut. Woefully uneventful.
The comments I made in my opening paragraph ring true once again. Caribou Crossing fails to leave much of an impression (if any), eliciting a level of indifference that I commonly reserve for bottom shelf pours. It’s to the point that carrying on with this review feels about as necessary as finishing the pour I was sent. This whisky is too bland to be enjoyable as a neat pour, and too watery to hold up on the rocks or in cocktails. Likewise, adding soda to this would probably do no favors for either liquid. What does that leave us with? An afterthought. A whisky so unimpressive that it makes me reconsider the times I’ve described other expressions as bland.