Pike Creek Whiskey, made by Canada’s Corby Distillers of Wiser’s brand fame, was available stateside in the 90s. Slow sales soon put the importation experiment to an end, despite a budding cult following. Now, Pernod Ricard is reintroducing the spirit to select American markets after signing an exclusive distribution agreement with Corby in hopes of capitalizing on the country’s renewed love affair of brown booze. But while whiskies/whiskeys from the distant shores of Scotland and Ireland in particular have a reputation for complexity and character, the same things are rarely said about the “brown vodka” from our northern neighbors, known primarily for promoting “smoothness” at the expense of flavor, richness and punch.
One glance at this new iteration of Pike Creek’s label is all it takes to see that its makers are fully aware of the stigma, and hope to avoid it. A bold “crafted by the elements” sticker is a marketing nod to the unique twist in the spirit’s production; it’s finished in port barrels stored in unheated warehouses and placed at the mercy of the seasons. The barrel’s contractions in the cold and dramatic expansions in the summer force greater interaction between the whiskey and the wood, imparting complexity and concentrating flavors from the port.
So is Pike Creek significantly different from other Canadian Whiskey? In some ways, yes. Gifts from the unique port finishing process such as raisin, strawberry and other dried fruits are definitely asserted through the nose and apparent while tasting, blending nicely with the usual suspects of vanillas, caramels and lighter hints of oak. Combined with a buttery mouthfeel, Pike Creek is a tastily balanced 80 proof blend that can be appreciated just as much on the rocks as with the company of typical Canadian Whiskey pals like Ginger Ale.
Fans of scotch, bourbon and other whiskies from the north should find much to love about this reasonably priced newcomer now available for approximately $40 in select states including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, New York and New Hampshire. Seasoned lovers of the depth found in single malt and top tiered Irish Whiskey may be less impressed. That just means more Pike Creek for you.