Caribou Crossing is an overlooked gem. We know this because, for years, we’ve overlooked it ourselves, but after dozens of awards have landed at the bottle’s feet, we were willing to give it a try. And we’re glad we did. Canadian Single Barrels are a rare breed because, unlike American whiskey, Canadian whisky is distilled into components (rye over here, corn over there) and blended together at the end of the process, rather than thrown in together from the start.
This would mean, typically, that a single barrel is going to be wildly unbalanced, leaning either drastically in the direction of a high rye character, or toward something like Mellow Corn.
What’s so surprising about Caribou Crossing, then, is that its balance is so perfect, its grain content is so unclear, and it’s so gosh darn tasty.
Unfortunately, there’s not a ton of information about what’s in the bottle. We know there’s rye simply by the nice, floral character on the nose and when it first hits your lips.
At 80 proof, this isn’t a hurricane, and we suspect that a long time in re-used wood has given this whisky its mellow, light, and floral essence, while imparting milder hints of wood character—a push of sandalwood on the nose, and a hint of cedar on the finish.
Canadian whisky is often separated from its American counterparts by a few factors that would cause bourbon lovers to look down their noses. First and foremost, it’s often blended with neutral grain whisky, which takes out a lot of the punch.
But this one doesn’t need that—or anything, frankly. We know there’s plenty of bold, heavy-hitting whiskey on shelves these days, but sometimes the moment calls for something more restrained and quaffable. Caribou Crossing is that. It doubles down on the balance and control, but without blending into the crowd of countless others on the market.
At $50, it’s a nice step up from the most popular Canadian whisky brands, slightly different from batch to batch, and unique in its own right.