The Balvenie and The Canadian Opera Company Celebrate Craftsmanship

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Recently, the Balvenie held a unique tasting event showcasing the 21 year old Portwood expression which is due in LCBO stores this week. Joining forces with the Canadian Opera Company, the Balvenie invited guests to sample a range of their fine malts while learning about the craftsmanship, attention to detail, and authentic materials that go into the production of both a fine single malt, and a stunning opera production.

Within the COC space, various stations were arranged where guests were invited to see, feel and learn about the individual crafts that contribute to the creation of Balvenie's malts. Miniature malting floors, covered in raw, de-husked barley stood in for the traditional malting floors which the Belvenie still uses to malt their barley at the distillery--a time honored and increasingly rare practice which is the first step in transforming the golden farmed grain into Scotch whisky.

Not far from there, samples of disassembled copper stills were accompanied by the clanging of tools against metal as the process of pot still construction was demonstrated, and the important relationship between the still's size and shape to the final product was explained. Further still, coopers demonstrated the assembly of new oak casks, and invited us to feel and, more importantly, smell the rich aroma of wood which would be imparted into the whisky that rests inside.

Having been educated in the various timeless arts of whisky making, we then moved onto the sampling portion of the evening, which included drams of Doublewood 12 year old, the 12 year old signature edition, and most excitingly the recently released (in Canada) Portwood 21 year old single malt, recently awarded the Supreme Champion award at the London Spirits Competition.

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Nose: Molasses and brown sugar sweetness, cloves, cinnamon and spices, with a slightly medicinal aroma.

Palate: Dried fruit, orange rind with pepper, hints of smoke, with a dry saltiness.

Finish: A bubbly, almost carbonation-like mouthfeel like sparkling water, finishes slow and deep in the chest with a steady, rising warmth.

Overall, I found the port wood expression to be rich and complex with a subtlety that reflects its age. This is a dram I would like to sample further, as I found it to reveal more and more over time and could not gain a full appreciation of all the notes with a brief sampling. This is exactly the sort of character I look for in a more mature whisky, and the 21 Year Old marks a very strong addition to the Balvenie collection.


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The evening was complemented by a wonderful display of the costuming, wigs, and art direction which had been prepared for the upcoming production of Tosca by the Canadian Opera Company. As an added treat, we enjoyed our whisky while hearing a selection of aria's sung by one of the COCs magnificent tenors.

Thank you to the Canadian Opera Company, The Balvenie, and Jesson + Company for crafting this truly informative and engrossing evening.

The Balvenie 21 year Old Portwood is available in the LCBO this month for $225.

Tosca will be performed by the Canadian Opera Company from January 21st to February 25th, 2012.


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