Taste Test: Playboy Spirits’ New Release Shows That the Humble Canadian Whisky Can Be Excellent Too

Taste Test: Playboy Spirits’ New Release Shows That the Humble Canadian Whisky Can Be Excellent Too

Lucky Bastard, a 30-year-old Canadian rye, impresses our whisky critic.

When it comes to high-end luxury whisky, single malt scotch is usually the category dominating the conversation. But Playboy Spirits’ new Rare Hare Lucky Bastard release is a 30-year-old Canadian whisky that elevates this typically humble category to a lofty level, and the flavor actually supports this. 

Of course, there have been some ultra-premium Canadian Whiskies released before. Crown Royal has a 29-year-old expression that is a very fine blended whisky which commands prices close to a grand. Canadian Club released a 40-year-old whisky a few years ago that costs about $1,200—kind of a bargain considering how much a scotch at this age would cost. And Diageo’s Orphan Barrel brand has Entrapment, a 25-year-old Canadian whisky that goes for a pretty penny on the secondary market.

These are exceptions to the rule, because most of the time whisky from our neighbor to the north that we can find here is either an affordable blend or a sourced rye bottled by brands like WhistlePig and Lock Stock & Barrel. Enter Playboy Spirits‘ luxury Rare Hare collection—previous releases have included a 17-year-old bourbon and 1961 vintage cognac, and now we have a 30-year-old Canadian whisky that was finished in Pineau Des Charentes casks for 120 days. If that term is unfamiliar to you, you’re not alone—it’s a sweet fortified French wine, essentially a blend of grape juice from Cognac and actual Cognac from Cognac that has become a popular ingredient for craft cocktail bartenders.

There is very little information provided by the brand about where the whisky actually comes from, but it’s probably safe to assume it’s a blend as opposed to a 100 percent rye mash bill, and was likely initially matured in bourbon barrels (this is speculation, to be clear). Whatever the case, this is a lovely spirit that is presumably unlike most Canadian whisky you’ve tried. The color is a ruddy orange-copper, almost like rusty water. It’s instantly recognizable as Canadian on the palate, with strong notes of caramel, molasses, vanilla, and honey seeping through in every sip. But there is also a nice swirl of juicy stone fruit, raisin, and fig that permeates the profile, and a dash of spice and heat on the finish thanks to it being bottled at 89 proof.

Lucky Bastard is a good Canadian whisky, and it’s also just a good whisky full stop. Rare Hare has positioned itself as a purveyor of attainable luxury spirits, pricing its bottles high but nothing above a grand (the secondary market is probably a different story). So if you’re interested in expanding your world of high-end spirits beyond single malt and bourbon, give this bottle a try—you won’t be disappointed.

Score: 87

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