I AM CANADIAN

Canada may be flawed, and it may have lots of work ahead to make things right, but I am an optimist, and I love my country.

Bushmill’s Black Bush—luring bears into the liquor store

My fellow inebriates,

This week one of my favourite booze websites, Good Spirits News (GSN), drew my attention to Bushmill’s Black Bush Whiskey. When I saw they had given it an A+, I immediately went online to see if our government booze store stocked it. Score! It was even on sale for $34.99.

Bushmill's Irish Whiskey bottle

For this marvellous shopping trip, I accompanied my mum, riding in her backpack. I hadn’t been out of the house since long before the pandemic, so this was novel. The whole world had changed. Our booze store had even rebranded.

My mum was reluctant to take me along. In the past, I’ve attempted to stay behind at the store. But she told me if I tried to hop out of the backpack this time and take up residence in the Irish whiskey section, I’d probably end up being destroyed (and not in the good, wasted kind of way). She pointed out that I was no longer as fluffy as I was when I first sprang from the liquor store’s Christmas share-a-bear sale so many years ago.

I countered that neither was she.

Still, I took her point about the common practice of darting bears that show up at liquor stores and promised to stay in the backpack.

Happens all the time.

Thus we made a surgical strike, claimed our Black Bush and hightailed it out of there.

Two days later (why??? why do I always have to wait???) we tried it. Our friends at GSN were correct—Black Bush is a fine whiskey that’s weighty and rich in a classic toasty-caramel vein. On the nose you get faint nuttiness and butterscotch. On the palate it has a ton going on—some spices, some dried fruits and some tea tannins. Those flavours develop in your mouth and finish off on the sweet side. In short, it takes your palate through a small journey, much like my foray in the backpack, although without the threat of being darted.

Black Bush is made from 80% malt whiskey and 20% grain whiskey, which makes it a bargain (regular $38.99). It spends years in sherry casks, which confers a sweetness on it that my dad and I noticed right out of the gate. My mum didn’t find it sweet, but that’s because she’s been hanging out in the Canadian rye section for so long. Still, she felt connected to this whiskey because it hails from her mum’s birthplace, County Antrim in Northern Ireland (although Bushmill’s is owned by the folks who make Cuervo).

By Jonathan Schachter, 2005, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5848335

Given how little travel is going on these days, Black Bush is the closest we’re going to get to Northern Ireland anytime soon, so we might as well drink copious amounts of it.

And you, too, my fellow inebriates. If you’re looking for a reasonably priced whiskey you can sip or mix into a mean cocktail, this is it. Get your mother to put you in a backpack and take you to your local booze shop ASAP!

A mea culpa to White Owl Whiskey in the interests of journalistic integrity

My fellow inebriates,

My parents pointed out that it was unfair of me to describe the taste of White Owl Whisky after it had been soaking into my fur.

My on-again-off-again girlfriend Dolly seconded my parents; she said the odour I was wafting could not in any way have been intended by the makers of White Owl Whisky.

Happier times with Dolly.

Even more chastened than last time, I begged my mother to buy a fresh bottle of White Owl Whisky so we could give it a fair shake. She refused. She said the nasty aroma had stuck with her for hours—and by the way, did I realize I’d taken the finish off the coffee table when I spilled it?

So, MFI, I now rely on you to send in your impressions of White Owl Whisky. If you don’t want to buy a big bottle, maybe you can find a mini-bottle affixed to the neck of a bottle you do decide to purchase. I will wait for you.