Crazy Newt's guide to Rye!

You know, I really don't drink much.  Occasionally, this blog might suggest otherwise, but in actuality, I'm really something of a lightweight when it comes to alcohol.  And most of the times, when I do drink, it's in fairly small amounts - two or three drinks, tops. 

But sometimes, I run out of things to write about.  And when that happens, I write about whatever random item is sitting on my desk... which happens to be a barely-opened bottle of Canadian Club.  And I realized, even though it might make me sound like a lush, I had to grade my five favourite ryes.

Y'know... for educational purposes. 

Canadian Club:  Known throughout the world.  Originally brewed by that greatest of Canadian distillers, good ol' Hiram Walker himself.  This is probably the best known Rye internationally, although personal experience has told me that it is not as well-liked in Canada as Crown Royale.

 I prefer the "Premium" brand personally, though don't let the name fool you - Premium is their basic blend.  The Reserve blend is probably, ultimately, better, but I just enjoy the smooth taste of basic CC.  Plus, the classic-style bottle makes a great "bloop bloop" noise when you pour it.  I believe I've mentioned this already. 

I remember having a flask of this stuff in my pocket during a Canada Day celebration, and a bottle of CC and Ginger Ale in my other pocket.  I was stopped by a cop who patted me down and found the ginger ale and CC mix and made me dump it.  He never found the flask, and later on that very night I found myself on a boat in the inner harbour, drinking CC straight while watching fireworks explode overhead. 

*Sniff*.  Memories...
Flavour:  A;  Price:  B; Presentation:  A.  Overall :  A-

Crown Royal:  Apparently, the number-one selling Canadian whisky sold in the United States, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was the number one seller in Canada, too.  This is that whiskey that is sold in those purple velvet bags that everyone seems to have - I remember my crossing guard at school giving me a bag for my marbles when I was only about six.  It was really nice of her, although what my crossing guard was doing with an abundance of crown royal bags, I don't know.  I guess life was hard being a crossing guard in the 1980s... knowing all you were doing was preventing natural selection from weeding out the stupid kids who'd otherwise walk into traffic.  I'd probably drink a lot, too. 

Anyways, I like this stuff, although it's a bit nutty and I find the flavour is a bit strong for my liking.  Also, it's usually the most expensive rye, so I rarely buy it.  Sometimes, I think it is a best-seller simply because it is one of the pricier Canadian Ryes.  Great christmas present, though!

All that being said, the worst experience I ever had with alcohol was with Crown Royal.  I was about nineteen or so, and was trying to impress some guys I had just met and this girl I was sort of interested in.  Naturally, I wanted to show how tough I was, so I slammed an entire 750 mL.  I literally watched the liquid disappear, and as I swallowed the last drops, I thought to myself "that was probably a bad id-"

The next thing I know, I'm being dragged back to my campsite asking Squee to "Punch me in the face". 

So yeah, be careful with this stuff, boys and girls!

Flavour:  B+  Price:  C-  Presentation:  A+;  Overall:  B

Gibson's Finest:  Kind of a smaller brand, for a long time, this was my absolute favourite rye whiskey.  It tastes great mixed with ginger ale, it's relatively cheap, and it has this great tinge of walnut or something when you sip it.  The bottle and packaging is kind of lacklustre, and if you keep it on your shelf for awhile like I do, you'll notice the label will quickly start to peel.  But hey, who cares so much about packaging if it tastes good? 

For a while, I used to base which bars I'd frequent based entirely on whether or not they carried this brand... I still choose it over any other store brand when able, and my mom has made a habit of buying me a bottle every year for Christmas.  Not a top seller, but a brand I highly recommend. 

Also, don't drop the bottle on your toe.  I can't stress this enough.  Due to the shape of the bottle, it seems to amplify the weight, and will crush your poor toe into oblivion. 

Flavour:  A-  Price:  A  Presentation:  C Overall:  B

Hiram Walker Reserve:  My drink of choice.  Originally created by the same guy that made Canadian Club (and, I believe, still produced by the same company) this lesser-known rye is essentially a much smoother version of Canadian Club.  It holds the distinction of being the only rye I can drink neat without making "whiskey face".  And it tastes absolutely amazing with ginger ale.

The price fluctuates, but it's roughly equal to Canadian Club.  It comes in a great rectangular bottle and has this deep amber colour to it that always makes me smile.  About the only downside to this stuff is that I've yet to find a bar or restaurant that serves it.  Were I to ever find the place, I'd probably become a regular. 

Flavour:  A+  Price  B Presentation:  A Overall:  A

Wiser's Deluxe:  This drink holds the dubious distinction of being the first rye I ever drank... and it was the first alcohol I ever actually got drunk on.  I didn't like it then, and I don't like it now.  In fact, this rye almost made me swear off ryes completely - it tastes as if someone took the very worst parts of rye whisky, vodka, and rubbing alcohol, and sloshed them all together. 

I remember drinking it for the first time, on a cold spring day and having my friend James teaching me that "the only way to drink it is quickly, and make sure you breathe out the fumes becuase they're what make you gag".  About the only fond memory I have of this stuff is drinking mouthfuls and then trying to spew out fireballs by lighting a match as you spray out.  Which is really a better use of the stuff than actually, you know, drinking it. 

While it is not the worst rye I've ever had (that distinction goes to Royal Reserve or that awful rye from Alberta), it definitely is not a rye I choose to drink if at all possible.  Sure, it's cheap, but there's more to life than just money.  About the only time I wind up drinking this stuff is when I'm at a bar and I don't realize this is the stuff they have tapped.  And it only takes one before I'm dishing out the extra money for Crown Royal or CC. 

Flavour:  C-  Price:  A+  Presentation:  C-  Overall:  C+. 

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