Lot 40 Dark Oak Rye Whisky
Age: NAS – Minimum 3 years
Recipe: 100% rye. Aged in new oak barrels. First in a #2 char barrel and then in a #4 char
Distiller: Hiram Walker
Price Paid (MSRP): $48 USD ($60 CAD)
Nose: Heavy on the oak and brown sugar, black cherry, vanilla, mint, rye and black pepper spices. I also detect that signature Lot 40 stewed apple note.
Palate: Medium mouth feel with some tannins, appley and with some barrel char, heavy brown sugar, cherries and oranges. The black pepper spice contrasts nicely with the oak, and then caramel sweetness comes in.
Finish: Medium length, a wave of black pepper, rye, cinnamon and oak spices. It’s a tannic finish but not overly drying. Oak, clove, and brown sugar with a touch of vanilla. Lingering pepper.
Rating: 74/100 – Great | Well above average
Tasty stuff that represents good value for an oaky, medium-proofed rye, at roughly $48 USD. Unfortunately for Dark Oak, the standard Lot 40 is almost just as good. In fact I might even prefer it. The standard Lot 40 is an incredibly flavorful rye for its proof and price point and I think the heavy char finish here drowns out so many of the notes that I love. It’s a fun departure from the standard bottling, but the oak dominates the base rye instead of working in harmony with it. The saving grace for Dark Oak is the bump in ABV from 43% to 48%, which is a change that I would wholeheartedly welcome in the standard release.
Despite the harsh writeup, Lot 40 Dark Oak is still a great rye, even if the release is a bit disappointing. Although I think we’d all like a return to the 12 year cask strength releases of yesteryear, I appreciate that Dr. Don is trying something new with these cask finishes. Dark Oak may have been a miss for me, but I’m still excited to try the Peated Cask release that’s arriving this fall, and whatever else will be coming next from Hiram Walker.