January is a problem to be solved. It’s cold. It’s wet. December’s party is done. Start the new year right, they say. Aim high. Too often, ‘they’ lead you to regrettable resolutions. I’ve found a better way. It’s called whisky. A glass of good bourbon is the perfect way to ease into the new year. It requires minimal sweat, the rewards are delicious and it pairs well with the season. The weather demands baking spices, caramel, toffee and dried fruit flavours.
Now, the problem is picking a good bottle.
I’ll let you in on a secret. Three words. Bottled in Bond.
It sounds like something you can trust, which is the point. Bonded spirits produced in the U.S. meet a set of quality standards and lets you know you are drinking a whisky you can trust. There are three requirements for a bonded spirit that matter most.
A bonded whisky must be bottled in a single season, by a single distiller. In other words, it’s not blended from different years and distilleries. This makes the spirit a little more like a single malt or small batch product.
It must be aged at least four years in a supervised warehouse. It may not sound like a lot, but four years is a long time for a whisky that isn’t premium priced. Canadian whisky, Scotch and Irish whiskey all have to be aged at least three years. American Straight whiskey is two years.
Bonded whisky must be bottled at 100 proof, or 50% ABV. A higher alcohol content often translates to bolder flavour. This is especially good if you like a little ice in your bourbon, or if you are mixing cocktails. That extra proof gives you a little more backbone and your drink won’t become as diluted
A lot of bonded whiskies are mature brands and are less driven by hype and fashion. That means you can find great value and these whiskeys. Hunt down one of these bottles. Find a warm fire and a good friend. Open the bottle and ease into a happy new year
Old Grand-Dad Bottled In Bond
This is a classic ‘Bottled in Bond’ Bourbon. It is a high rye bourbon based on a recipe from Basil Hayden. Rich and sweet with great vanilla notes. It is a favourite for bourbon fans who love a great value.
$37.49 - 750 ml
Rittenhouse Rye Bottled In Bond
Rittenhouse is a must have American Rye. Maple syrup, baking spice and brown butter make this spicy rye a great way to wind down a midwinter evening.
$61.99 - 750 ml
Jim Beam Bonded
Take your Jim Beam up a level. This bottle offers a lot of flavour in a familiar package. Honey, wood and spice play off vanilla and floral notes. This is a great whiskey to spend a little time with.
$34.99 - 750 ml
Bearface Triple Oak Canadian Whisky
$39.99 - 750 ml
Complex notes of vanilla, dried fruit and spice.
Shelter Point Single Malt Artisanal Whisky
$70.99 - 750 ml
Candied sweets, spice, malt chocolate and a hint salt.
Campbell River, BC
Wayne Gretzky Red Cask Whisky
$41.49 - 750 ml
Notes of marzipan, light citrus, vanilla, oak and spice.
Curated for holiday cheer
by Ann Brydle (Cascadia Quadra Village)
Checkmate Fool’s Mate Chardonnay
$79.99 - 750 ml
Juicy peaches and apricots back by stony minerality and wrapped in delicate oak.
Stonestreet Cabernet Sauvignon
$59.49 - 750 ml
Dark berries and sage mingled with smokey tobacco to keep you warm all winter.
Château de Beaucastel Château neuf-du-Pape
$101.99 - 750 ml