As you may already know, at Yukon / Two Brewers, the beer they brew and the spirit they distill both share an important piece of equipment — a bespoke brew kettle that can transform into a wash still. Their beer and whisky are further linked. Whenever Yukon receives a batch of Bairds peated barley to brew their ‘Yer Gallus’ Scottish style export ale, they use the rest of the shipment as a component of their peated single malt mash.
There have been rumblings about a peated whisky release from Two Brewers for some time. It’s Yukon’s first foray into peated single malt, and it’s also one of the first commercially available peated Canadian whiskies, so there’s good reason for excitement. This release comes in the wake of Release 1, which was exclusive to Yukon’s store in Whitehorse, selling out in a manner of hours. It directly follows Release 2, which was more widely available, and showed an impressive depth of flavour, maturity, and a calculated use of new oak, sherry, and bourbon barrels. Release 3, the first peated expression from Two Brewers is something that myself, and other single malt fans have been anxiously anticipating.
Pale gold, suggesting a Bourbon cask maturation. And I can’t help but enjoy a Canadian whisky with no caramel colouring added. Hallelujah.
Delicate and well balanced. Lots going on. Peat is not the first thing to come out of the glass, rather, the smokiness is nestled into layers of sweet sponge cake, ripe pear and creamy caramel. Undeniable sweetness, the kind that single malt Scotch drinkers will recognize from a fruity spirit matured in bourbon casks. There’s a tugging note of crushed grain in the very back that is so refreshing.
My guess is, as far as phenol levels are concerned, this whisky is in the ballpark of Benromach 10 and Highland Park 12, probably even a little less.
This is where the whisky takes it’s departure from the more traditional Scottish style. The smoky character is really dug into a substantial fruitiness, and a supple sweetness. Very mild, round. If there’s anything that comes out in front of anything else, it’s the cask, sweet, toasty. The smallest snap of earthy peat. No medicinal characteristics whatsoever.
Finishes on a retronasal note of rich, fatty, dark hot chocolate with a melting marshmallow.
The body is light to medium. A satisfying level of depth, the whisky works nicely on two levels. There is a creamy, tongue coating layer, and another, lighter hit, the clean tang of spirit heat that lingers on.
I’ve been really happy with the Two Brewers releases so far. They’ve all be well made, cask selection has been interesting, and I’m certain they have a promising future. Release 3 follows that trajectory and it’s a spirit that serves up some classic single malt characteristics, while still offering something new to think about.
If you’re looking for a blast of peat, you won’t find it here, and personally, I was left wanting a bit more peat influence. And while Release 3 is bottled at 43%, higher than most Canadian whiskies, I still can’t help but wonder what the spirit would be like at full cask strength. Myself, I’m curious to try future releases of Two Brewers’ peated spirit, to see how it matures and develops, and to see if they experiment with higher levels of peat, and a higher bottling strength. To be fair, those are merely my personal preferences, and I’m not saying all peated whiskies need to be strong and aggressive.
I encourage everyone who is interested in this whisky to give it a try. Not only is it the first of its kind in Canada, it’s also well crafted, and without flaws. It cements Two Brewers as being on the forefront of a surge in quality, not just in the Canadian single malt scene, but for Canadian whisky in general.
Thanks to Bob Baxter & ‘Yukon Dave’ for the evaluation sample.