Thursday, December 31, 2015

Lassie's top 10 memorable drams for 2015 - #2 Trailblazers take heed!

In 2013 I had the utmost pleasure to tour meet, and taste the whiskies Barry Stein and Barry Bernstein were making near Toronto, Ontario Canada. They had been operational as Still Waters Distillery since 2009. Prior to the existence of the John Hall era there were less than 10 distilleries across our expansive country. Barry & Barry were not only the first micro-distillers but also only the second distillery to create and sell a Canadian Single Malt. They have been at the forefront of the craft distillation movement in Canada from the very start. It's not been easy. It's been a long exhaustive road where some days there was nothing more than sheer willpower and the ability to put one foot in front of the other it seemed. These guys have.... CHUTZPAH! But it takes more than just tenacity to keep the lights on, it also requires skill and a great product. Again, luckily these guys have a winning combination.

In September of 2014 I was back at their distillery and super excited to try their newest whisky: Rye, 100% (they don't like it when I call it that ;) I wrote about it here:

At the Canadian Whisky Awards in Victoria BC in January of 2015 I was beyond exuberant when I had the utmost pleasure of receiving on their behalf their gold medal for Connoisseur whisky of the year - best new whisky, their rye. It was the first time in the history of the awards that a craft distillery won. And, honestly, there is some personal satisfaction in believing in a whisky from its inception and knowing in your heart/soul that a product is THAT GOOD!

So, once again on my annual trek to Toronto in September 2015 I had the pleasure of taking part in an intimate evening at Still Waters with the Barry's and a few Toronto #whiskyfabric friends. We were fortunate enough to try some really great new products coming to market such as their discovery pack. Somewhat innovative since nobody else is doing this type of whisky release in Canada at the moment. 

But for me, the one that came out on top and also came home with me that day was my number 2 dram for 2015. This doesn't exist anywhere in Canadian whiskies, as of yet... and it's 100% rye, at cask strength. I absolutely love it! 

THIS is what rye should taste like and I revel in every chance to introduce this to people who enjoy rye. There have been, many a convert!

Still Waters Stalk & Barrel Rye Whisky, Cask 56, 60.2% ABV

Nose: Full on fresh grain harvested and stored in a hay barn. Lots of delicate floral notes and with a bit of time in the glass the spicy aromas of the rye finally make an appearance. It's quite a complex nose!

Palate: At 60% it knocks you over with peppery spiciness, freshly grated ginger root and a handful of cloves! With a healthy dollop of water, this tones down the heat to reveal some lovely toffee and creamy caramel. Super oily mouthfeel.

Finish: This lingers forever... well ok for about 5-10 minutes. Just a warm, glowing finish with more baking spices and sweetness.

For me, it's simply a superb dram from start to finish. Well balanced and delivers some of the best rye notes I've ever nosed/tasted. 

Stalk & Barrel is available in several Canadian provinces as well as the United States. Check out their website for details, locations and prices. Sadly not yet available overseas unless you have a Lassie friend to ask to bring it over ;)

We all have dreams but some people like Barry & Barry are fearless and make those a reality. To those of us on the outside they can certainly make it look easy but the reality is trailblazers often sacrifice 95% of their lives and sanity to make it happen. Since the Barry's have arrived on the scene there have been many new craft distilleries come online. I would dare say the Barry's helped paved the road for the next generation of small batch whisky makers such as Last Straw and Yongehurst. They too will suffer ups and downs, struggle to make it work but in the end I hope they end up thriving, surviving and someday winning awards with their whiskies as well.

Still Waters has something special going on: Quality, talent and perseverance. It's what it takes to make it as a small independent distillery and I have no doubt that what's next will be some pretty cool or amazing stuff. See you guys in 2016!!!
Courtesy of




  1. This was one of the highlight samples at the NB Spirits Fest for me. So glad we got a bottle :)

  2. I knew them when . . . Congratulations gentleman. As a patron from before your whiskies ever saw the light of day, I can say it is a well deserved accolade. Now I just need to try some of that 100% corn Whisky