Whisky Advocate

Review: Caribou Crossing Canadian Whisky

May 19th, 2010

Caribou Crossing, Single Barrel, 40%, $50
For those of you who think Canadian whiskies are thin and bland, you might want to give this whisky a try. No, it’s not a new concept in Canadian whisky, like Forty Creek. It’s still very much a “traditional” Canadian whisky. But, when compared to most traditional Canadian whiskies, it richer, creamier, and velvety smooth. The flavors are straightforward—primarily vanilla, with some crème brulee, toasted marshmallow, tangerine, peaches & cream, and gentle rye spice—but they are clean and well-balanced. A delicious, lighter-style whisky just in time for warm weather.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 93

Two additional notes: This is single barrel whisky. There’s no way of identifying the cask, as far as I know. I’m hoping that all the barrels taste as good as the one I have, but I just wanted to make you aware of this. Also, there is a second, lower-priced ($25) release called Royal Canadian, which I have and also hope to review in the near future.

No Responses to “Review: Caribou Crossing Canadian Whisky”

  1. This sounds quite intriguing, although the design of the lid is ehhh… a little excentric. Will some bottles find their way to Europe?

  2. Red_Arremer says:

    Sounds like a lot of fun. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single cask offering bottled at 40%– Has anyone else? Thinking on it though, it seems a good thing. A lot of people are scared of high proof whisky. We all know what happens when you hand a nonwhisky person a glass of cask strength/barrel proof/whatever and say “Ok, this is bottled at 58%– Give it a little taste to get the picture and then add some water.” 80% of the time you get a blank stare, right?

    It would be great if the values folks like us see in well-chosen single casks became more mainstream. More single cask whisky at lower strengths might be a good way to push things in that direction.

    • sam k says:

      Red…it’s a Canadian. THEY’RE the ones that are afraid of higher proof. I do appreciate your perspective, though. It actually gave me pause–for a second. (With apologies to PRJack!)

    • Luke says:

      I’m there with you on higher ABV Red:

      ABV 46% Minimum thank you!

    • Mark Davis says:

      if it’s enough of a hit they may be interested in expanding the line.

  3. Seth Nadel says:

    Looks like a better score than the Crown Royal Black. :)

    • John Hansell says:

      Indeed, Seth. I can sip Caribou Crossing neat and really enjoy it, but not with CR Black.

      • sam k says:

        John, do you think the black in CR Black is a result of the 9.09% allowance, and if so, what it might be?

      • brian bradley (brian47126) says:

        At first I thought you were a little harsh on the CR Black score, but, I now see that you were correct. I liked it more then the standard CR; however, i would not want to drink it neat. If you can’t enjoy it neat, it does not deserve a any higher score.

  4. Luke says:

    John, when you say “Single-Barrel” does it mean a barrel of a single spirit distilled from corn, rye, etc or is this a “cask-conditioned” blend?

    • Red_Arremer says:

      I highly doubt that this is a vatting of barrels which spent time being married in one big barrel or something like that. It’s probably just an honest to goodness single barrel whisky. Rock Hill farms, the single barrel bourbon from BT, for which Caribou’s bottle mold was originally created, doesn’t have any barrel/rick house numbers either.

    • John Hansell says:

      I’m with Red on this one. But….you never know. I would like to have seen a way to identify the barrel, and it does leave room for suspicion.

  5. Kevin says:

    I like the “Frankenstein” bottling. It looks like the Rock Hill Farms decanter, with a Blanton’s style enclosure.

  6. Mark Davis says:

    your track reccord on high rated whiskeys in this price range has been great. 2000 EWSB, Elmer T Lee. this will be my first Canadian whiskey purchase. based on it’s light taste it should be very nice this summer.

    • John Hansell says:

      Mark, if you don’t like Canadian whisky, you won’t like this, regardless of my rating.

      • TB says:

        John, I saw what you told Mark,”… if you don’t like Canadian whisky, you won’t like this, regardless of my rating.” I’m not a Canadian whiskey fan but I do like everything that comes out of Buffalo Trace in Frankfort. How would Caribou Crossing stand up to a single barrel bourbon?

  7. JWC says:

    i’m really looking forward to trying this canadian out. if the lower priced royal canadian is also out, i’ll get both and do a side by side comparison. buffalo trace continues to impress me.

  8. Bob Siddoway says:

    I am genuinely looking forward to this, regardless of the low proof. The last few Canadians I have had have been bland and unimpressive, but there are a few good ones. The description sounds delicious. Buffalo Trace has an awesome array of products (hard to beat that Stagg).

    I have yet to try that CR black, either. I had high hopes for it, but the feedback so far is not so promising. Probably more of a mixer. I was tempted to buy it yesterday, but opted for Laphroaig 18 and Bowmore 12 to restock my liquor cabinet. Maybe next time.

  9. Jason says:

    Just picked up a bottle of this (instead of CR Black) and it meets the expectations set above as well as the taste profile, giving some hope that there isn’t much variation across the bottling. I found the peach comes in closer to the finish and leaves the after taste feeling more of summer. Thicker in the mouth than CR Special Reserve (did a side by side). Hard to say which one I liked better, CRSP has more of a floral note, while this is sweeter.
    As well it comes with a fun Blue Bag in the style of the Crown royal bags; a fun little touch and adds another dimension to the “Frankenstein” bottle Kevin mentioned.

    Good pick John, Thanks!

  10. PATRICK VORIS says:

    It is what it is. A very pleasant Canadian. Very safe, great whisky for our kind and gentle neighbors to the north. Sazerac is great at producing, or finding in this case,high quality, respectable spirits. Don’t you think?!

  11. H.Diaz says:

    Broke down and purchased the only bottle of Caribou Crossing I’ve seen, $45, largely based on John’s 93 rating. Just as I feared, much too lite in flavor for my taste, what little taste there is disappears quickly.

    Although I haven’t tried them all, only CR No. 16 and CR Reserve have ever impressed me regarding Canadian whiskies. I’m still wanting to try Forty Creek double barrel reserve which is available here in Texas for $50. After that, sadly, it may be years before I try another Canadian.

    • John Hansell says:

      It’s a very traditional Canadian whisky. I do like CR No 16 and Reserve more (and have rated them higher).

      Also, the Caribou Crossing is a single barrel, so maybe yours tastes different than mine?

  12. H.Diaz says:

    Good point, John. As we all know, single barrels will vary.

  13. Henry says:

    Does anybody else find it knee slappingly hilarious that Buffalo Trace has a Canadian whiskey called Caribou Crossing?

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