Whisky Advocate

Review: Collingwood

May 24th, 2011

Collingwood, 40% ABV, $27

Sweet, rich candy — pulled taffy, boiled sweets — with a little hot edge. Signature Canadian sweetness, but with more depth and a gently mouth-coating feel. Touches of vanilla, caramel, and some of those candy notes again, but the finish isn’t cloying. No overt evidence of the toasted maplewood finishing. Another exploration of what Canadian whisky is, or can be, that stays within bounds and makes the sweet whisky idea work.  –Lew Bryson

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 84

22 Responses to “Review: Collingwood”

  1. Rick Duff says:

    This one looks like cologne. I do have a bottle of this. Surprised more isn’t said about how this is Canadian Whisky that is put through the Tennessee Whisky maple charcoal drip finish (like Gentleman Jack.) It bills itself as being the world’s smoothest whisky. I find it lacks a little.. it’s a little thin, and tastes a bit young. It’s ok.. I’d put it around an 80. Crown Royal Special Reserve is smoother to me.. with more flavour. I will not be buying another bottle.. nor splashing it on after shaving. Takes up too much width on my shelf too.

    • Lew Bryson says:

      The bottle is…silly, and that big plastic cap on top is awkward. Looks cool on a retail shelf (and takes up a lot of room), but yeah, too much space on an at-home shelf. As to more being said; we’re always working with 80 words or less on the Buyer’s Guide; it’s all about focus. Cheers.

      • Scott says:

        “Looks cool on a retail shelf”

        Gotta disagree with that. There are so many really beautiful bottles of whisky on the shelves that Collingwood’s ugly bottle stands out even more. Move this to the rum shelf and maybe it wouldn’t look so bad. But the bottle looking like a convenience store fathers-day-special supersize aftershave isn’t the worst of it: The shape of the bottle lightens the apparent color of the spirit. I’d almost buy the notion that a Canadian whisky would use lightness of color as a selling point to communicate “smooth” or “easy,” except that most Canadian whiskies actually play around with names and bottles that emphasize darkness as they go up the price ladder.

        The saying tells us not to judge books by their covers, and as a metaphor for dealing with people, it’s true. But as a literal criterion for judging between books or other consumer products, its exactly false. We can’t read every book in the bookstore and then decide what to buy, and we can’t taste every whisky in the store and then decide what to drink. The bottle, label, and other packaging elements necessarily inform a consumer’s decision when choosing between untried whiskies. I’ve been starting to sample Canadian whiskies for the first time this spring, but barring outrageously glowing reviews, this bottle is just never making it from the shelf into my basket. This kind of product design sends very strong messages, whether true or not, about the maker’s approach to the business being more in line with “lifestyle brand” spirits (Tommy Bahama or Margaritaville rum, for example) than with real distillers who aim for quality product.

      • Rick Duff says:

        Lew,
        Didn’t realise it was a limited character review. I enjoy your reviews. Good job!

        • John Hansell says:

          You can blame me for that. I’m asking our reviewers to be concise and keep their reviews to 80 words. (Remember that these reviews are also going into Malt Advocate.)

  2. JC Skinner says:

    Horrible bottle (I recall Cooley getting similar criticism over their Greenore ‘aftershave’ bottles).
    But it’s great to see Canadian distillers pushing the boundaries.

  3. JWC says:

    i agree with everyone’s comments regarding the bottle looking like a men’s cologne or aftershave bottle. at least they are going for the non-whiskey masculine look whereas the “creative” folks over in the scotch world are going for the non-whiskey feminine look.

    now, on to substance – the whiskey itself. i haven’t tried it yet and based on the review and everyone’s comments, i won’t. looks like they should have spent more time on the content than the packaging.

  4. Barry Jay says:

    Heck, before you drink it, you dump some on you hands and smack it on your cheeks. Remember that old Skin Bracer TV commercial here in the states “Thanks, I needed that…”

    • Rick Duff says:

      Actually every time I pour it I take the drips on the side of the bottle and put it on my face. Just can’t help with that bottle shape. The stuff inside is good.. just not knock your socks off great. It was interesting to see it’s maple influence vs Woodford Reserves Maple Finish (not) “bourbon”. Hard to compare though as the base whisky is just so different (blended Canadian vs. bourbon.)

  5. Tip says:

    I didn’t find this sweet for a Canadian but definitely sweet like a Canadian. I’ve enjoyed the differently “finished” Canadian whiskies that have come around in the last few years, though I enjoy what the cognac barrels and sherry casks bring to CR16 and CC Sherry Cask more than I do the maple wood in this Collingwood.

    I enjoyed the Collingwood, and at the price point I rate it better than Pendleton or Snake River, but in that same price point Forty Creek Barrel Select wins every time at my house.

  6. snakeman says:

    Can’t help to agree with the bottles looking like an aftershave. If I don’t like the whiskey, I can always wear it. But one problem, it’s not available around here. I was just at Binny’s in Chicago last week, and they don’t have it yet either. So I guess I’ll just read all about it here. But we can get Forty Creek, and I have a bottle of their Barrel Select. Good stuff. And I ain’t going to wear any of that.

  7. Rick Duff says:

    One thing I don’t like about this whisky is the plastic pourer top. That just sings out bottom shelf to me.
    You know the kind you see on the 1.75 litre bottle of vodka/gin/tequila. I guess with the bottles strange shape they thought we might have some problems pouring it and it would spill out.

  8. Kyle says:

    I was at Woodford while we BF was bottling it, (Yes, it was bottled at WR, it’s the only BF line small enough for it!) and we had a lot of fun with it. The whiskey inside isn’t the best in the world, but the packaging is certainly different. I do think that it may attract a different crowd, but that isnt saying its all bad

  9. Erik M says:

    Anyone know who distills this? The website only tells me that Chris Morris of BF was “instrumental in creating [it]” and not much info beyond that. I’ve been very leery of fancy bottled sourced spirit ever since trying Pyrat XO.

  10. snakeman says:

    It is distilled at the Brown-Forman owned plant in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada.
    The same plant that makes Canadian Mist Blended Whisky.
    Aged in used BF cooperage made oak barrels.

    • Erik M says:

      Thanks for the info! Not a huge Canadian whiskey fan, but maybe I’ll get the opportunity to try it someday.

  11. sam k says:

    I am purposely not reading this post nor the comments until after my wife and I have evaluated the samples.

    Yes, I’m bringing a second voice to the process. We’re going to sit down together over the weekend and discuss their relative merits before I compose my analysis.

    Stay tuned!

    P.S. I’m not even going to read the responses to my comment.

    • Timothy says:

      I am very intrigued as to what you and your wife think of it. Honestly, even if the bottle is goofy, its the liquid inside that matters to me. I have not seen this one in my locale, but I am keeping my eyes open for it.

  12. Frank Ryan says:

    I would suggest trying it before making judgment. Google Collingwood whiskey and read some of the reviews which all seem to be very positive.

    http://cocktails.about.com/od/whiskeyreviews/fr/Collingwood-Select-Canadian-Whisky.htm

    http://alcoholreviews.com/wp/?p=1621

  13. Greg Adams says:

    I saw this at a shop on my home from a trip. I passed as the bottle would take up too much space. I guess I will stick with Forty Creek Barrel Select and Double Barrel Reserve for my Canadian fix.

  14. BB says:

    I actually love the bottle, think its a pretty cool piece of real estate on my shelf. Although the cap is a bit bulky, the extra 1 second it takes to remove it doesn;t bother me. The whisky….delicious. Smooth with a great new flavour. I love the innovation of the maplewood staves being used to create something new. Yum.

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