By Richard Thomas
Located on Granville Island, Vancouver, Liberty Distillery is a newcomer to Canadian whiskey. The distillery opened its doors in November 2013, and released its first whiskey product only last month. Yet in doing so, Liberty Distillery created quite a novel expression in its Railspur No. 1, named for the Granville Island district.
First, much of the whiskey made in Canada is either corn with a high rye percentage in the mashbill or an out-and-out rye whiskey. Liberty went with a barley-centered whiskey instead. Also, Liberty chose to triple distill its product, and in a copper pot still to boot, which overall gives Railspur No. 1 a decidedly Irish bent. Triple distillation is not unknown in Canada (one of the three constituents for Canadian Club’s blend is triple distilled), but it is hardly the norm.
Finally, there is the simple fact that it is a white whiskey. Unaged whiskeys are also not entirely unknown in Canada, but they are not nearly as prevalent as they are in the United States.
Railspur No. 1 is bottled at 47% abv (94 proof), and comes in 750 ml, 375 ml, and 50 ml-sized bottles. Based on the language they use, and the fact that their first product was vodka and their next one is gin, it’s a good guess that Liberty aims its spirits at upscale mixology first and foremost. Yet for the unaged whiskey drinker, Railspur No. 1 still offers a good ride.
The nose is grassy and grainy, with sweet notes of plum and honey, plus a little cinnamon spiciness. The flavor picks up on that spiciness, adding some pine in for good measure, but without losing the honeyed and fruity sweet side. Overall, the character here is crisp, but not harsh or sharp. The finish is lengthy and pleasantly warm.
Given how its made, I expected Railspur No. 1 to lean more towards Irish poitin than American white dog, and in that I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a nice sipper on its own, and enthusiasts of the clear stuff ought to appreciate how clearly it strikes its notes.
The full bottle goes for $48.99 and the half-bottle for $25.99.