One would think that the best whisky in the world would not need to be put on sale. But that is just what happened in the weeks leading up to last year’s holiday season.
The sales at the liquor stores had been arranged before the ‘best whisky of the year’ announcements were made, I’m sure. Nevertheless, you probably agree with me that it looked a bit ironic, more so given that a bottle of the singled-out liquid was under $30 (at the time, now more). But I am getting ahead of myself.
This is how it all started. In late November, after Jim Murray, author of the Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, made public his 2016 guide, media outlets on both sides of the Atlantic picked up on the unlikely choice. Canadian Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye was at the top of the list.
After hearing the news, I leisurely looked it up on the LCBO app and noticed that there were quite a few bottles in a store that was a bit out of my way, but close to a friend’s house, so with all the busyness that always precedes the holidays I decided to pick up a bottle when I go to visit her in a couple of weeks. Yet, when I found myself in another liquor store the next day I looked for it, but could not find a bottle. Would they have any, I asked? No, it is all sold out, was the reply. Will they get any more soon? Maybe, but not sure.
Well then — I saw that as a challenge. Which turned into a big hunt. Every other day when I found myself anywhere close to a liquor store, I would go in to inquire. And the news was becoming more and more dire, for someone who set out to find a bottle. First, the demand became so high that LCBO delisted the product from the app and the web site. Officially, it was backordered and not expected until February. Unofficially, a few cases would trickle in into this store, or that store, and would fly off the shelves within a couple of hours.
After I visited a certain store for the second time, a kind sales person mentioned that they would be getting a mixed shipment that afternoon, and that there may be some — I should call them. No, it didn’t arrive then. The closest I got a few days later was: We received two cases earlier today, but it sold out in 20 minutes.
So — and very unlike me –I gave up. Eventually, in the New Year, the elusive rye came back to the shelves, and one day, I un-dramatically picked up a bottle. On the eve of Canada’s 149th birthday, I finally tasted it.
Well, it was worth the hunt. Its alluring amber colour, as attractive as it is, is surpassed by its mesmerizing and complex aromas of banana bread, to be traced to vanilla and baking spices, combined with pepper and dried apricot. Smooth and creamy in the mouth, it has tastes of toasted pecans, a touch of oak and light butterscotch sweetness. It would go well with anissed charcuterie, desserts, and as a dessert itself. Try. It.
And, Happy Canada Day!