Picture your childhood self jumping out of the seat of your parents’ sofa as you watch “the Great One,” your beloved hockey hero, score the winning goal. Now fast-forward 30 years and picture yourself on that same sofa reminiscing about days gone by while nursing a nightcap of your favourite creamy spirit. In shock and disbelief, you realize that the beloved sportsman has somehow mutated from an athlete on the ice rink into a label on your drink! What the hell happened? Also whatever happened to buying new furniture?
Number 99 Wayne Gretzky boasts an impressive array of wines, beers, whiskeys, ice wines and now a salted caramel cream liquor ($35). The philosophy behind the ambitious venture is described as follows: “Create a collection of wines that people might buy once because of the name on the label, but would choose to enjoy again and again once they discover the quality of the wine itself.” Clearly the brand is self-aware when it comes to the fact that almost anyone who tries liquor bearing the name of a celebrity will be skeptical. It is not a baseless concern. The crushing reviews of Connor McGregor’s Proper No. Twelve Whiskey is a recent example of a marketing giant with feet (or ankles) made out of clay. On paper, the Great One seems wiser than the Notorious. He knows he can only con you into buying his stuff once, if the product sucks. And he knows you know that.
The liquor is not completely unfamiliar. It is clearly reminiscent of Bailey’s Irish Cream, the classic ingredient in Irish coffee or the B-52 shot. The nose promises something very sweet and indulgent. It smells like a lot of salted caramel, even chilled. The taste is gently salty, smooth and very, very sweet. Some call it liquor, I would call it a boozy liquid desert. It is totally delicious. The only downside is that we are 30 years older. Sigh. —Guillaume Garih