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Flavored whiskey is extremely popular, with brands like Crown Royal Peach and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple flying off the shelves. (The latter’s sales increased by 50 percent over the last year while parent company Brown-Forman’s bourbon brands fell flat, as we recently reported.) This new release from Canadian brand Bearface is nothing like your traditional flavored whiskey, however: It was infused with wild mushrooms foraged in the woods of British Columbia and matured in the great outdoors.
Bearface Whisky launched in 2018 with a focus on what it calls “elemental aging,” meaning the casks the whisky matures in are stored in repurposed shipping containers located in the Canadian wilderness. This new release is the first in the brand’s Wilderness Series, a collection of limited-edition whiskies that is meant to challenge the conventions of typical whisky making. Matsutake 01 uses its namesake mushrooms as a key ingredient, imbuing the liquid with what are described as umami flavors.
We spoke to master blender Andrés Faustinelli, and he described the process in a bit more detail. “This release required a week of foraging in the Kootenays with six people,” he said, referring to a region of the province of British Columbia. “We brought three casks full of whisky at 75 percent ABV to the camp, and over those days we foraged 100 kilograms of matsutake mushrooms that we then infused into the whisky. The Matsutake Blend has 9 percent whisky infused with mushrooms and aged together for six months. The ABV came down over that period as the matsutake released water into the whisky.” The other liquid in the blend includes whisky finished for a year and a half in French oak wine barrels and virgin casks, and whisky aged in a three different types of sherry casks: Pedro Ximenez, cream, and amontillado.
We got to try a sample, and this is indeed an interesting Canadian whisky. There are sweet caramel and vanilla notes on the nose along with ripe berry and oak. The influence of the mushroom-infused whisky is subtle but discernible with a savory kick floating around underneath dried fruit, cherry, and spice notes from the wine and sherry casks. The finish tapers off with caramel, maple, and a hint of honey. Do try this whisky neat, but recommended cocktails to make with it include riffs on a Manhattan, Old Fashioned, and Whiskey Sour. If you want to test it for yourself, you can find Bearface Matsutake 01 Canadian Whisky available now to purchase from websites like Drizly.