February 2011 Archives

Bowmore Tempest 10 Year Old Single Malt

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This sample of Islay single malt was provided courtesy of Saverio Schiralli Agencies Limited. Bowmore Tempest 10 Year Old is the second in a series of small-batch releases from Bowmore Distilleries of Islay, Scotland. Only after putting a good dent in the bottle did our panel realize this was cask strength. Surely, this speaks volumes of its character.

Nose: Starting with a gentle hint of sweetness, peaty salt is prominent which bleeds into pencil eraser upon a deeper whiff. Dried candied fruit is somewhere at the bottom of the glass along with black licorice. Wonderfully complex and not at all muddled. Nearly, and surprisingly, void of alcoholic vapours.

Palate: Wow - big bold flavour! Honey sweetness with earthy peat and smoke. After the initial punch, it turns tart, if not simply sour. Rather warm from its young age but this is not a detractor. Fairly viscous for a great savory mouthfeel.

We were recently invited to spend an evening sampling a range of The Balvenie's fine scotches with Dr. Samuel Simmons, the Global Ambassador for The Balvenie, who also as it turns out was a fellow Torontonian.

Dr. Simmons moved from Toronto to Scotland in 2002, and is now residing in London England. A poetry / language geek by education, Sam makes it a personal goal to read as many whisky related books at possible. Sam's interest in Scotch whisky developed in Scotland to the point where for a time he was president of the Edinburgh Water of Life Society.

Balvenie-CaribbeanCask.jpgThe reason for our gathering was primarily for a sampling of The Balvenie's newest expression, the Caribbean Rum Cask release. Aged 14 years and finished in Jamaican Rum casks, we were interested to experience this latest of a number of rum cask finishes by David Stewart. Sam noted David Stewart's predisposition to rum as his drink of choice outside the "office". Good rum has a wonderful rich sweetness almost as if you could pour it over ice cream. It is with this in mind that Stewart sets out to enrich his speyside malt.

The Balvenie was one of the first distilleries doing cask finishes to impart unique flavours since back in the 80s. In fact, the Balvenie DoubleWood (which is finished in a Spanish oak sherry cask) was originally branded as the Balvenie Classic back then.

Another historical tidbit we learned while chatting with Sam is that The Balvenie's cooperage is actually shared with Glenfiddich, though it's on The Balvenie's property. The jury is still out between them on whose name to put on it, though Sam hinted that the coopers themselves might prefer to drink The Balvenie.

On this eve, we were happy to work through five different Balvenie expressions with Sam.

Sampling the Maker's Mark 46

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Last week Robin and I were invited to attend a bourbon tasting event hosted at the Liss Gallery in Toronto by Maker's Mark representative Matt Jones.

Since small batch style bourbon is scarce or just expensive here in Toronto, we leaped at the opportunity to drink some of the pricier bourbons in the Beam portfolio. An added treat was that we'd finally get to sample Maker's 46 we heard about at Whiskey Live 2010  due out in the LCBO in early March. 

We arrived to a narrow gallery space nearly filled with people. Between pours of Knob Creek, Baker's, Basil Hayden and Booker's we learned from Matt that the new edition of Maker's is made by placing the spirit in modified finishing barrels containing 10 charred French Oak staves for an additional five to eleven weeks. 

Craigellachie 11yr old (Hart Brothers)

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The rule of thumb is that whisky will taste better when you haven't paid for it.  My first experience with Craigellachie was this bottle given to me for my birthday by a close friend.  The label states it's 11 years old, but it also specifies that it was bottled just a month shy of 12 years.

The spirit is a pale gold colour with dewy heather, green apple and dried fruit on the nose.  The palate is a total departure with marine elements of salt and seaweed preceding a measure of sulphurous smoke.  I found the finish to be relatively short and dry with some lingering spice and heat.


Recent Comments

  • Ryan commented on Wemyss Malts - 8 Year Old "Spice King":

    Mortlach is a polarizing single malt scotch. I've found people either love it or hate it! Have you tried any other Mortlach expressions? If so, how do you think it compares?

  • Ryan commented on Ezra Brooks 7 Year Old:

    Thanks for the comment Dan, please come back when you've opened it. Interested to hear how you think it compares. I'm saving a dram or 2 to compare with the new version...when it eventually surfaces here in Ontario!

  • ruou macallan commented on Wemyss Malts - 8 Year Old "Spice King":

    Taste is different for me sometimes. I read one review about nail polish and got that and it was strange. But also sometimes I get a lot of bananas which I like but not really what im looking for. Other times I taste caramel and charcoal. Its a love or hate it whisky and it changes for me. The middle is the best part, start and finish is boring. Isn't complex. Its unique in a way that its not like most bourbons or ryes but in this case its not a + thing. I like it most times but theres a lot more others that I would choose over this when im at the store buying a cheap bottle

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