Sunday, September 13, 2009

When In Pendleton…Drink Whiskey

Probably the biggest hang-up I’ve had this week is wondering what kind of high-faluten wine article I could write that would stir up visiting cowboys and cowgirls from throughout the continent, and make them want to drink a glass of local Cabernet Sauvignon. That’s when it hit me. Not even I drink wine this week. So, after writing about wine for the Eastern Oregonian for a year and a half, here is my very first whiskey article.

Now, what kind of an article can a wine slob tell you all about whiskey. Well…I decided to do my very own independent research in the confines of my own house. No marketing people with their cute girls, or lick-on tattoos. Just me, 4 bottles, and my computer.

For the purposes of this article I will tell you that I compared four very popular brands of Canadian Whiskey. Just for the curious, Canadian style whiskey is a blended rye whiskey. Unlike American rye blends, that have to be no less than 60% rye malt, Canadian blends are not held to a particular level of rye in the mix.

First, I tasted my father’s favorite…Black Velvet. Manufactured by Diagio, one of the world’s largest alcoholic beverage distributors, Black Velvet has been a Canadian whiskey institution since 1945. A nose that is faintly sweet, but pretty much overpowered by the smell of rubbing alcohol. The taste is fairly smooth, with a bitter finish that tastes like grape seeds. Not bad…just not great.

Second, I tasted MacNaughton’s. I did several research cues on this fairly popular whiskey, and found absolutely nothing on it. There is no company that is even willing to openly claim it on the internet. Hmmmm…makes me nervous to even crack the seal, however I did for the sake of all of you. Well, I can tell you that with there is no aroma outside of cleaning solvents to this beverage. The flavor is of alcohol. I’m not sure of what kind even. I’ve never written anything bad about anyone, but I think I’ve just broken that rule!

My third sample was of the ever famous Crown Royal. Compared to the previous beverages, this was truly a delight. Crown, surprisingly enough is also manufactured by Diagio brands, however is well respected as Canada’s finest and most popular whiskey. The bouquet is warm, smooth, and brandy-like. Amber colored in the glass, it exudes rich flavors of honey, vanilla and spices. With a long, sweet finish, I’ll admit, it made me want to hum O Canada.

Last, but certainly not least, I tried the whiskey that got it’s name and logo from the town at the base of the blues, Pendleton. Created by Hood River Distillers in Hood River, Oregon in 2003, Pendleton whiskey is the fastest growing brand of Canadian blended whiskey on the American market.

A little lighter color in the glass than the Crown, the Pendleton is rich in earthy vanilla and baking spices on the nose. The nectar is sweet, with a strong flavor of homemade butterscotch like grandma used to make. A long butterscotch finish made me want to go back for more. From a wine-guy’s perspective, this is one worth sipping on all night.

I hope that this Roundup brings you home after a long, hot summer. And, now that you’re here, I hope that you can enjoy it along with your favorite beverage. Have a fantastic time, and Let ‘er Buck!!


  1. BV is popular in Eastern Oregon as are most Canadian Whiskies for some reason or other. I sort of have to laugh at the cowboy-types and ranchers who enjoy it; there isn't a whisk(e)y type closer to a fancy-smancy girly liquer--or in some cases simply just closer to syrup--than Canadian whiskey.

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    One more reason why not everyone drives red volkswagons...individual taste is just that individual..maybe read a bit about tounge mapping to get your head around the concept...perhaps your cherry chew was inteferring with the whiskey...


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