The list of whiskey NDPs based in Massachusetts is a real short one, so I was very excited when I heard that Found North was going to be launching their first two batches in my home state.
I had the pleasure of speaking with co-founder Nick Taylor on a Zoom call where he introduced me, and some friends, to Found North and their two inaugural releases. Although he had had plenty of experience tasting spirits as Whiskey Director at Gordon’s, this was Nick and his brother Zach’s first foray into the world of blending. Luckily, he explained, they were sourcing some really high quality, old Canadian stock and after just several months (and a few thousand micro blends and tweaks later) batches 1 & 2 were ready to release. Let’s see how they did.
Found North Cask Strength 16 Year Rye Whisky Batch 001
Age: 16 Years
Recipe: 66% rye, 30% corn, 4% malted barley. A blend of 16 Yr rye aged in Hungarian oak, 17 Yr rye aged in ex-Speyside scotch casks and 20 Yr corn whisky aged in refill (13 years) and then level-2-char virgin oak (7 years).
Price Paid (MSRP): $115 ($115)
Nose: Intensely floral off the bat, lemon pound cake, caramel, rye, freshly cut grass and some berries.
Palate: Medium to thick mouth feel with an almost syrupy texture. Spicy with cinnamon, cayenne and black pepper. There’s a wave of vanilla followed by more berries, clove, honey and some nice oak influence.
Finish: Long length, lingering with numbing spices, gentle oak and just a hint of more berries.
Rating: 85/100 – Excellent | Really quite exceptional
I’m a sucker for a well crafted Canadian rye and Found North Batch 001 is great example of just how awesome they can be. The lower rye mash is somewhat deceiving as the spice here is really quite intense. The inclusion of their 20 year “Sample 18” corn whisky does a great job of thickening out the mouth feel in a way that you don’t generally get in northern ryes. The ex-Speyside scotch casks add another layer of complexity with sweeter fruit and berry notes. Overall it’s a whisky of many different parts but it’s a testament to the blending that they’re all able to come together into an excellent rye.
Found North Cask Strength 16 Year Canadian Whisky Batch 002
Age: 16 Years
Recipe: 80% corn, 19% rye, 1% malted barley. A blend of 20 Yr corn whisky aged in refill (13 years) and then level-2-char virgin oak (7 years), 17 Yr rye aged in ex-wheated bourbon barrels and 16 Yr rye.
Price Paid (MSRP): $120 ($120)
Nose: Super rich, with dark caramel and oak, heaps of vanilla with oranges, grains, burnt sugar, and light mint.
Palate: Heavy, chewy, viscous mouth feel with a big oak presence that brings with it a lot of spice and some tannins although less than you would expect given the age. Sweet vanilla cream and clementines are next with butterscotch and milk chocolate following close behind. It’s very easy drinking despite being just shy of 130 proof.
Finish: Long length, lingering oranges, vanilla and drying oak spices.
Rating: 87/100 – Excellent | Really quite exceptional
Nick described this one as an “orange creamsicle” and I completely agree. I’m generally very sensitive to sweeter high corn mashes, and while this is a sweeter pour, the oak notes are really wonderful and do a great job of balancing the whisky. It’s interesting because, while my flavor notes above are quite bourbon-like, there’s something distinctly not-bourbon going on here and I believe it’s due to the lack of strong tannins in the oak influence. The majority of this blend was an old corn whisky which spent 13 years maturing in used casks in a colder climate. That aging process is very different from that of the fresh oak Kentucky bourbons that frequently suffer from too much wood at 16+ years. Instead, Batch 002 is decidedly mature but not dominated by its barrel influence. It’s a real treat to drink and a bottle that’s opened the eyes of a rye drinker to how just how good Canadian corn whisky can be. I would highly recommend grabbing a bottle if possible.