March 2012 Archives

Mortlach 15 year old by Gordon & MacPhail

mortlach15GMedit.jpgGordon & MacPhail's bottling of Mortlach new make aged 15 years in refill sherry casks shows that sometimes, you can have too much of a good cask...   

Nose: Sweet with generous burnt brown sugar, raisins, and ripe red apples atop a musty, almost sulfurous, woodiness that sits heavy in the glass. No real change in profile with time in air or a splash of water.    

Palate: Medium-bodied with mouth-coating honey sweetness. Fruity notes of fig, orange, plantains are complemented by nutmeg, vanilla, and a hint of mint. Quite peppery, the woodiness remains a central feature that carries with it a considerable amount of heat to the finish. 

On Thursday March 22, 2012 hosted a whisky tasting featuring Tullibardine Distillery at Quinn's Steakhouse & Irish Bar.

Guests were treated to six expressions of Tullibardine, including a 1964 cask strength, along with food pairings and a fascinating miscellany of anecdotes, digressions, and factual tidbits about the distillery from Tullibardine's International Sales Manager, James Robertson.

In the world of independent bottlers there are many names, but few are more recognizable or reliable than Gordon & MacPhail. Founded in 1895 in Elgin, Scotland as a combination grocer, wine, and spirit merchant, the company has managed to remain family owned to this day while amassing a truly astonishing collection of rare casks, unique whiskies, and its own distillery. 

What makes Gordon & MacPhail so special? I chatted with Michael Urquhart, Joint Managing Director, to find out.

Get Vertical with Tullibardine

On Thursday, March 22nd (yes, that is next Thursday) at 7pm we are inviting people to join us somewhere in Toronto as we welcome James Robertson from Tullibardine to guide 40 of us through a tasting of 6 whiskies from a distillery that is a personal favourite of mine. 

The evening will feature various vintages and cask finishes from Tullibardine as well as food pairings designed to accentuate the flavours of the whiskies, and as always there is a nominal fee required for entry to offset some of the cost of putting the whole thing together. 

How much? $20. 

Yes. You read that correctly. The whole event will only cost twenty dollars per person.

Now, as is often the case with such a unique and special event, we have to cap the number of attendees. This time the cap is due to the available quantity of a few of the whiskies. Therefore it is a very hard cap for which there can be no exceptions. 

With that in mind we'll be accepting requests from those who email us on a first-come, first-served basis. After all the seats are filled, we will then be keeping a waiting list. For everyone who fits into the first 40, you will receive an email next week, from me personally, with the exact location of the tasting. For those who need to hang tight on the waiting list, I will also email you so that you can be on guard should a last minute spot open up.

So how do you confirm your desire to attend? Well, if you look to your right, you will see how to "Contact Us". So please do send an email, otherwise it makes it very difficult for me to email you back with the details.

On behalf of everyone at, we are truly looking forward to sharing this special evening with you. 

Cardhu 25 Year Old Rare Malts Selection

Cardhu 25yo Rare Malt Selection.jpg
Every so often through a unique combination of serendipity, a series of events linked over long periods of time, and just blind luck, life yields something so truly special that the line between reality and dreams becomes blurred briefly. This past Sunday I was fortunate enough to experience one such moment while simultaneously enjoying a true honour. 

On the occasion of one Mark Pearlman's birthday, I was fortunate enough to attend and guide a select few of his family and friends through a truly momentous tasting featuring lost distilleries, rare bottles, and truly great company. Placed in a line up featuring a 21 year old Littlemill, a 24 year old Glen Albyn, great whiskies from Macallan, and even an Ardbeg 17 year old expression, it was the 25 year old Cardhu that vaulted past every one of them, and many more,  exploding into the list of the greatest whiskies I have ever had the luxury of enjoying. 

Glenmorangie Finealta

Glenmorangie Finealta

While we haven't had much of a winter here in Toronto this year, Sunday gave us a cold, brisk wind and proper wintery temperatures. What better day to drink a warming dram that was built on Glenmorangie's recreation of its turn-of-century base whisky?

Finealta translates from Gaelic to mean elegant and this Private Edition rises to that challenge. There is no question that this is a Glenmorangie dram and it proves to meet, if not exceed, The Original.

Nose: Floral, honeyed clover with peach and citrus give way to a strong orange creamsicle with hints of almond and a wisp of smoke giving a warm welcome.

Isle of Jura 21 - 200th Anniversary

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Jura21_200th.JPGThis bottle was hand-delivered from England into our eager hands, long before the product was available at the LCBO.  Luckily stocks are still quite good on this relative rarity, currently at well over 100 bottles in Toronto area stores.  As the title infers, this edition of the 21 year old commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Jura distillery.  The spirit is a deep amber colour that may be drawn from its vintage 1963 Oloroso sherry cask finish.  The bottle is elegantly packaged and comes with an invitation to a special tasting at the Isle of Jura Distillery from Distillery Manager, Willie Cochrane.
Nose:  Dark toffee and sherry muting a subtle dose of peat.  Beyond the initial impression, there are notes of orange zest and worn leather.



Recent Comments

  • Ryan commented on Benromach Peat Smoke:

    Sampled this a few weeks back at our club meeting and over the years the peat smoke has become much more pronounced. The bottling we got from the LCBO ( has the same 46% ABV but the peat smoke is now at 67ppm, almost double from 5 years ago.

    Nose: Grassy and vanilla notes are more upfront but the general aroma profile remains similar as before with beeswax, cereal tones and a subtle smoke.

    Palate: Campfire smoke and vanilla with juicy apricot and mandarin orange flavours.

    Finish: Stewed fruit dusted with cocoa powder and a long, deliciously smokey fade out.

    This Speysider has gotten smokier but still shows plenty of fruitiness. It's perhaps more "in-your-face" than the 2012 but without being gimmicky about the whole thing.

    A quality dram here.

  • Joshua Alexander commented on The Macallan Select Oak:

    You can send your bottles to me. I love it!

  • Tom Alexander commented on Ninety 20 Year Old Canadian Rye:

    Interesting - I've always liked this one and have found it quite smooth. If I get a chance to try a dram (without buying a bottle) I'll definitely reassess. Thanks!

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