Rare Hare Spirits—the year-old brand gaining a reputation for discovering extraordinary vintage spirits and bottling them for connoisseurs, collectors, and enthusiasts—is releasing a Canadian whiskey aged for 30 years before being finished in French Pineau des Charentes casks for 120 days. It’s a whiskey quite unlike any Canadian expression ever bottled, and only 2,500 lucky buyers will get to own it.
Canadian Whiskey Is on the Rise
For most of the 20th century, Canadian whiskey was far and away the most popular whiskey in America. Today, it’s making a comeback among serious connoisseurs who love Canadian expressions for their combination of complexity and accessibility. During the heyday of Canadian whiskey, most brands were aged an average of six to eight years, but now, extra-aged bottlings that have spent not years but decades in oak have become highly desirable—and increasingly difficult to find, which is what makes the fourth release from Rare Hare Spirits, called “Lucky Bastard,” so exciting.
What Is Pineau des Charentes?
Pineau des Charentes has been made in the Cognac region of France for more than a century—and as an unregulated local spirit for far longer—but has only caught on internationally in the last few years. It’s a fortified wine made from fresh, unfermented grape juice along with unaged distilled cognac eau-de-vie. The blend is then barrel-aged, producing a delightfully sweet and fruity aperitif. Pineau has become a favorite cocktail ingredient for innovative bartenders, and its casks have begun to be employed for finishing various spirits. Rare Hare’s Lucky Bastard is one of the first Canadian whiskeys to be finished in Pineau des Charentes casks.
A Whiskey Like No Other
The techniques used to age Lucky Bastard, as well as the cask finishing, make it stand out from other Canadian whiskeys. This isn’t one of those “lost cask”-type whiskeys that was forgotten in a warehouse and found decades later. The whiskey was looked after like a fine cognac, with periodic tastings and relocation of the barrels to optimal spots in the warehouse for long aging. Alex Moore, Rare Hare Spirits’ master blender, “This whiskey was made with the collaboration of expert blenders, cooperages, and wine makers. This required close attention to the weather and changing between sunny or shaded parts of our facilities. Extensive aging requires particular care to prevent over-oaking of a product. As with cognac, aging something for so long takes special attention to design and intention.”
Canadian Whiskey With a French Influence
Thanks to its age, the care taken with its production, and the influence of the Pineau des Charentes casks, Lucky Bastard is quite unlike the Canadian whiskey most of us are familiar with. Its layers of flavors unfold gradually, with tropical flavors like plantain and coconut melding with bright Mandarin orange, along with the zing of serrano peppers and mellow grassy notes reminiscent of a Martinique rhum agricole. It’s a whiskey that rewards patience: The longer one sits with it, the more it opens up and reveals its seemingly bottomless depth and complexity. The elegant bottle and ornate, intricate box in which it’s housed do justice to the liquid inside.
Only 2,500 “Lucky” Bottles Available
Rare Hare produced 2,500 bottles of Lucky Bastard, available at select retailers and through the Rare Hare Spirits website for a suggested retail price of $599. And if you’re curious about the names of both the whiskey and the brand, they’re directly tied to the legacy of Playboy, the legendary and game-changing magazine whose parent company cofounded Rare Hare. The brand is quickly making a name for itself by sourcing and bottling distinctive limited-edition spirits, including a 60-year-old Hors d’Age cognac and a 17-year-old bourbon finished in cognac casks. Lucky Bastard, the third Rare Hare release, is so named as a tribute to Playboy’s long legacy in the gaming industry—and, possibly, as a predictor of what people will say to anyone fortunate enough to own a bottle.