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Pike Creek Flows to the United States

Jack Bettridge
Posted: May 17, 2013

Pike Creek, a Canadian whisky formerly regulated to distribution in the Great White North, is opening up a new frontier, coming to America as a younger version of its typical 10-year-old self that is finished in Port casks.

The move by Pernod Ricard, the whisky purveyor that brings us Glenlivet and Chivas Regal and recently took over distribution of Pike Creek, reflects the emerging popularity of Canadian whisky. The introduction of a big, round whisky from the North also belies the notion that Canadian spirit is only about smoothness.

Matured in Pike Creek, Ontario, in warehouses that are not climate controlled, Pike Creek enjoys the give and take of seasonal expansion and contraction that brings full flavor from the barrels.

The spirit begins as a blend aged in Bourbon barrels, then enjoys extra aging in vintage Port casks. While there is no age statement, the whisky is said to be between seven and eight years old by the time it is bottled.

The notion of Port finishing is not a new one, having been used widely in Scotland and, to a lesser extent, in the United States for Bourbon. Forty Creek, another Canadian distillery (unrelated to Pike Creek) has also used the technique.

What makes this Port finish stand out is its relative affordability and the fact that it makes pairing with Canadian whiskies such an obvious alternative.

(Cigar pairing notes on next page)

Pike Creek Small Batch Whisky (80 proof, or 40 percent alcohol by volume; no age designation; $31.99 a 750-milliliter bottle)

APPEARANCE: Very interesting color: like a very deep version of a pink Champagne mixed with the tan of undyed leather. Beads up slowly and once it gives up the legs fairly run down the glass.

NOSE: Inviting but two-dimensional nose of flowers and fruity hard candy.

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