Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Review of sCorn whisky from Last Straw Distillery, careful this is a quirky little Canadian

It only seems appropriate, after naming the iconic Canadian Club 42 as my 2019 whisky of the year, that I start the new year with a proper review of a whisky from one of our youngest Canadian distilleries - Last Straw.

I wrote about them almost 5 years ago when they were literally building their establishment. Since that time they have gone from a temporary location to their current site in Vaughan Ontario and from part time production to running a full time operation. It's been an interesting journey for father and son duo. Here is my first blog about them:

Don was kind enough to send me a whisky they created that he feels is quite unique not only in flavour but it's "raison d'ĂȘtre". He thanks the Toronto Distillery for that. When they were still operational, they contacted Don and offered him a batch of 100% organic sprouted corn (hence the name sCorn).

Sprouted corn kernels
Charles literally said, if you don't want it we will likely throw it out because we simply can't use it right now. Don immediately said yes and picked it up. The spirit that came off the still was something quite different in Don's opinion so they decided to age it in virgin oak casks. Three and a half years later, sCorn was bottled. 

The first thing I did was read up on their website about the whisky, then I did a bit of research on sprouted corn. There are a few distilleries in Canada that make 100% corn whiskies, JP Wiser's 18 is a fine example, and upon a bit more research there are quite a few American craft distilleries that use sprouted corn (malted) to make their whiskies.

What does make sCorn unique? 

1. It's locally farmed 100% organic sprouted corn, AND

2. This is a single cask release (although it doesn't state so anywhere on the bottle)

Bottled at a respectful 49% ABV. I sampled it over the course of a few days, letting it sit for a while as well as adding a bit of water. It was a nice feeling to be back at the simplicity of sitting with a whisky, making notes and enjoying the experience of connecting with it for its aromas, flavours and finish. Now I'll be honest and I'm not telling anyone who knows me anything new when I say... It is rare that I'm a "virgin oak" maturation fan. Not that I find them offensive by any means, they are simply not my favourite whiskies. Don and I had a great conversation about virgin oak and how some people absolutely love it while others like myself struggle. The nose/mouthfeel is so distinctive I can pick them out on blind samples.

sCorn - Last Straw Distillery, 49% ABV

Nose: Sweet but fresh pencil shavings, apple juice,  with some fir tree sap (that's the sign of virgin oak maturation for me right there). With a bit of time and a few drops of water: A lot less astringent, with a more creamy vanilla profile. Can really smell the grain better now.

Palate: A bit of a surprise, I found it a bit harsh (again I struggle with virgin oak), but after the first sip and a bit of water I found the flavours evolved into desiccated banana chips with a dryness of toasted hazelnut skins.

Finish: High ABV = burn, long simmering one. With water it became more of a peppery/chewed on a mouthful of cinnamon hearts at the same time sort of heat. Quite the winter warmer!

It's not a very complicated dram, but overall it is certainly an interesting whisky and concept. I had a few friends try it last week (one who is a really big virgin oak/bourbon fan). At first he didn't believe me when I told him what this whisky was matured in, but in the end he stated he really enjoyed the very different "weirdo" whisky (his words - not mine... ;)

For anyone who lives in Canada - it's only available online or at the distillery itself. At $60/bottle for a single cask edition whisky - Worth the try if you want a simple but different sipping whisky. For the rest of the world... sorry:  Only in Canada my friends - Pity!

I want to thank Don Dimonte for sending me this quirky little sample. Please don't ever stop daring to be different at Last Straw! I really enjoyed starting off my 2020 blogs with this one. 

Next week on Lassie's blog:  My 2019 mindblowing trip to Waterford Distillery in Ireland. Until then, be safe my friends and enjoy your journey, wherever it may lead...


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