Whisky enthusiasts are at last awakening to Canadian whisky and declaring it among the best whiskies in the world. There’s simply no more denying the argument that Canadian whisky is the most overlooked and misunderstood category of spirits, and yet, unbeknownst to many, the category is going through a massive creative renaissance.
Enter Bearface Whisky. Drawing inspiration from the Canadian wilderness and making full use of the freedoms that Canada offers as whisky-makers, Bearface has been inspired to create its new ‘Wilderness Series’, beginning with ‘Matsutake Release 01’, which was released in spring of 2022.
Bearface Whisky master blender Andres Faustinelli says that “the Bearface Wilderness Series is another example of how we connect with nature and the elements to create whiskies that are wilder and more adventurous than anything else out there”.
It’s true that Canadian whisky has the biggest opportunity to innovate in the world of whisky. “Canadian whisky has much more to offer as we ‘almost’ don’t have rules,” says Faustinelli. “Our rules are the perfect playbook for innovation. The laws regulating Scotch, Irish Whiskey and Bourbon will never allow those whiskies to go beyond their classic story (distillery, type of grain, age). Canadian Whisky is happening. Innovation is happening, and I can see a lot of new cool whiskies. It’s not about “convincing”, it’s all about having “conviction”. We can stop replicating the other whiskies and start embracing our own possibilities.”
“Here in bear country, we have the inspiration, and we have the freedom to make wild ideas happen. This is whisky the world wishes it could make, but only Canada can.” – Andres Faustinelli, master blender
The Wilderness Series finds Bearface infusing premium single grain whisky with rare and exceptional ingredients foraged in the Monashee Mountains. The first of this release is the Matsutake edition– an extremely scarce and sought-after mushroom species that grows wild in British Columbia. As well as being rare and delicious, the Matsutake mushroom is unusually difficult to cultivate and can be harvested only once a year.
“There is no record of Matsutakes and whisky,” says Faustinelli. “This release is the result of a revelation we had when hiking during the pandemic in the Monashee Mountains back in October 2020. One of the most precious and sought-after mushrooms in the world not only grows in BC but also, once infused into a whisky cask, creates a very unique flavour profile.”
This extraordinary whisky is aged in three different styles of sherry casks. As part of Bearface’s unique elemental ageing process, the casks are matured in re-purposed shipping containers and exposed to extreme temperature variations throughout the seasons in the Canadian wilderness.
A production dictated by nature
The result is a complex, layered whisky, with a soft, yet weighty mouthfeel to it. Flavours of nutmeg, cinnamon and a rounded nuttiness attack the palate, followed by a leafy earthiness, mushroom and an umami finish. “Umami” being a key word in Japanese cuisine that identifies the “fifth taste” in foods and beverages (aside from sweet, sour, salty and bitter) that lends a savoury depth. The Matsutake mushroom flavour profile provides that deepened savoury flavour finish – an incredibly unique tasting experience.
“They say that it’s the Matsutake that really finds you, and that encounter created the inspiration to push the boundaries of what whisky can be.”
“In recent years, many of the world’s most acclaimed mixologists have been embracing the potential of umami-rich fungi as an inventive cocktail ingredient,” says Bram Bolwijn, Sommelier Forager at Bearface. “The Wilderness Series: Matsutake Release is an exciting next step in our ongoing quest to create premium whiskies that are unlike any other in the world.”
It’s true that every whisky tells a story, but the Bearface narrative is rooted deep in the wilds of British Columbia. Their new Wilderness Series expression is set to intrigue adventure-loving whisky drinkers who want to experience the best of super-premium craft spirits being made in Canada today.
“They say that it’s the Matsutake that really finds you, and that encounter created the inspiration to push the boundaries of what whisky can be,” says Faustinelli. “This is a limited, one and done release. The production ended up being dictated by nature and the resulting blend is truly unique.”
Bearface has earned multiple international awards for its remarkable, boundary-breaking whiskies – most recently a Double Gold Medal at the 2021 edition of the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Retailing for CAD$49.95, this whisky is bottled at 42.5 percent and is available across Canada (except in Quebec), but only for a limited time. Other releases in the Wilderness Series will follow.