Canadian Whiskey, Oregon Water, Bucking Bronco?
Pendleton Whiskey is somewhat of an enigma in the spirits world. This is one of the fastest growing whiskey brands in the states, but honestly finding out information about the actual whiskey is difficult at best. Pendleton is a woolen mill that sponsors many different Rodeos and has teamed up with Hood River Distillers in Oregon to celebrate these two historic Oregon institutions, the obvious next step: make a Canadian Whiskey! I suppose this was less about logic and more about getting something out there that all the cowboys and cowgirls at the Rodeo would enjoy. Now, we're not the biggest proponents of Canadian Whiskey. Generally, I find it to be mostly boring. The Canadians keep most of the best stuff for themselves and what we see down here shows little signs of becomem more exciting in the near future. Canadian whiskey is kind of like Cognac in that it's stuck in the old world, unwilling to adapt to a customer who has changed. Given there are markets in this country where Canadian whiskey is very popular, just not ours. Canadian whiskey is mostly of passable quality, but bluntly uninspiring. Young it has very little character, while the older stuff can't always stand up to the oak treatment. There are several exceptions to the rule, including some of the bottlings recently rated on MA from Forty Creek (Kittling Ridge), to the top notch rye sourced by Dave Pickerell for Whistle Pig Farms. Pendleton 20 year is right up there with some of the best Canadian whiskey I've ever taste, but honestly I have no idea where it comes from. Most likely this comes from Alberta Distillery which is responsible for some very highly rated bottlings that are not released in California. I jump to this conclusion for no reason inparticular! The whiskey is imported to Oregon where it's brought to proof and bottled with distinctive bucking bronco label. While I hardly ever get excited about whiskey bottled at 80 proof the Pendleton Directors' Reserve 20 year Canadian Whiskey 750ml ($144.99) is truly something special. Created to commemorate the Pendleton Round-Up Rodoes' 100 year anniversary, the style is ultra rich and decadent. Honey and vanilla are borderline overwhelming on the nose. A soft oak spice backs up the intensity of fruit and sweet toffee.caramel on the palate. Fully mature and not overly oak driven the Pendleton 20 year really shows an intriguing side of Canadian Whiskey. I'm not the only one who likes it Spirit Journal gave it 4 stars and Patterson's scored it 95 points. Of course you'll have to shell out some serious cashish for this highly limited bottling. Last time we saw the Pendleton 20 year in this country (about 2 years ago) it was stupidly hard to keep in stock, so when people realize what they're missing the high price probably won't make a difference. For those who want a glimpse of what the 20 year looks like, but don't want to shell out $150, you can always pick up the Pendleton Blended which is mighty fine for $25.