December 2012 Archives

Cardhu 12 Year Old


Roundly praised among whisky and cigar aficionados this twelve year old Speyside single malt is used extensively in Johnnie Walker blends. Lauded for its gentle character and fruity notes, expectations run high given the $75 price tag.

Nose: Pears, candied fruit, brown sugar, and a little bit of pepper and orange zest after it opens up. The nose of this unquestionably unremarkable dram is undeniably its finest facet.

Palate: Light hints of dried fruit are easily eclipsed by cloying leather and pepper. The palate is flat, an abomination unworthy of an alliteration.

The ScotchBlog Test Kitchen featuring Drambuie

Drambuie is a whisky liqueur made from a blend of grain and malt whiskies from the Speyside and Highland regions which is then mixed with a honeyed "elixir" that combines to give the liqueur it's distinct syrupy consistency and it's bright flavours of: honey, cloves, anise, cinnamon, citrus zest, ginger and light floral aromas. When I think of Drambuie, I think of the holidays and I typically drink it neat, on the rocks, or in a Rusty Nail. However, a chance re-acquaintance with Drambuie back in October led Matt and I to contemplate the possible pairings and recipes that would make the best use of "Bonnie Prince Charlie's" dram. 

To be honest, cooking with Drambuie is quite a challenge. The rich honeyed sweetness, the strong herbal component that becomes even more dominant when the liquid is heated and the floral element of the liqueur present a myriad of flavour bridges to your dish but achieving the desired balance of flavours is where it gets difficult. It's easy to add too much Drambuie and blow out the harmony of flavours. My best advice is to follow the rule "less is more" when it comes to cooking with Drambuie. The recipes below are a fun way to show off some culinary prowess this holiday season while introducing, or re-introducing, Drambuie to your friends and family: 

Drambuie Macerated Fruit

Drambuie-infused Homemade Marshmallows 

Sweet Potato Casserole with Drambuie Marshmallow topping

Drambuie Duck Drops

Master at Work: In the Lab with Brian Kinsman


LTOC2.jpgI have never seen anything like it. Wall-to-wall whiskies in sample bottles of all shapes and sizes. In the middle, a lab table set up with eight capped nosing copitas waiting. The scene played out as though there was an invisible metronome clacking out a rhythm to pace his movements, and then it ended before I could fully comprehend what I was watching. Eight whiskies nosed in 30 seconds.

Whiskies judged. Decisions made. 

This was Brian Kinsman at work. To him, he was merely wrapping up a small piece of his day: determining via samples how these casks would best be used. But while he did this, we could do no more than exchange looks of amazement and chuckle to ourselves. Clearly, we were going to learn more than we bargained for, as we were about to spend the next few hours in the lab with a Master Blender.

As the year draws to a close I am left reflecting on everything that has come and gone in these past twelve months. Great days and rough days alike; incredible moments shared with family and friends; and the wonders of the whisky world that have punctuated many of those times. 

While this is not a retrospective, it certainly could be. At no time in my memory have we whisky lovers seen such proliferation of new products and rare editions. This only serves to make it even more difficult for the uninitiated to wade into the fray of the whisky world to find a bottle that they can feel proud about giving as a gift.

It is with that sentiment that we here at ScotchBlog offer up our 2012 edition of our annual Gift Buyer's Guide. Just like past editions, we will keep to our three price ranges of under $70, $70 to $100, and over $100 and include links to more detailed reviews of the whiskies on the list. This year there are some surprises as we venture out of Scotland and away from single malt, but as always, we will be using the LCBO's pricing as a guideline, meaning that you are apt to find these bottles for less in many other cities around the world should you reside in or be passing through such places. 

But enough of this sentimental preamble. Let's get to the whiskies. 


Recent Comments

  • Isabelle Gurble commented on The Famous Jubilee, Special Edition Reserve:

    This looks amazing, something my husband would love. His birth is coming up soon as well.

  • Ryan commented on Forty Creek Heart of Gold:

    Hi Sherry, I think you might be outta luck on this one. Only 9000 bottles of this delicious whisky were produced and I'd wager most - if not all - purveyors have been sold out for quite some time now. If you're looking to sample it, I'd recommend visiting your local whisky bar and checking their list of Canadian whisky offerings. Your only other option would be to try and track down someone willing to give up their bottle? I've got one 2oz sample tucked away and, sorry, I'm keeping it all to myself! :) Good luck! Let us know if you find a bottle!

  • Sherry commented on Forty Creek Heart of Gold:

    Do you know where I can purchase this item?

    Sherry Boutilier

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