January 2013 Archives

The Glen of Tranquility

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Its 10:30 PM on a mild May night in the highlands of Scotland, and I am gazing out towards the North Sea as I stumble in the dark through the walled garden of Glenmorangie House. Picking my steps carefully in the wet grass, a camera tripod in one hand and a wide tumbler of Ardbeg Uigeadail in the other, I am grateful for the wellies I have been provided by the staff as my fellow travel companions get situated for some stargazing and photography. It is our last real night in Scotland, the end of a whisky odyssey that began 12 days earlier, and has taken us from the tasting lab of The Whisky Exchange in London to the Spirit of Speyside festival in Dufftown, from the island distilleries of Islay and Jura to the peak of Ben Nevis, and ended here at the Glenmorangie House outside Tain.

The Glenmorangie House is a 17th century country home 45 minutes north of Inverness, situated among the ruins of Cadboll castle, which is now owned by the Glenmorangie Distillery and provides guests with luxury hotel amenities in the atmosphere of a relaxed country house party. For a whisky traveller, Glenmorangie House represents the pinnacle of Highland hospitality, receiving visitors with open arms and offering an unmatched experience of stunning landscape, Scottish tradition, and opulent comfort. Not to mention the full range of Glenmorangie and Ardbeg whiskies to be enjoyed, paired skillfully with locally sourced, Michelin-star cuisine. Our group was generously offered the opportunity to experience a stay at the house before our tour of the distillery itself the following morning, where we would witness the production of the spirit itself.

Ardmore Traditional Cask

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In the LCBO's $40-$50 price bracket, you take a bit of a chance trying a new bottle. Generally light on complexity, the choices range from biggest bang for your buck (Glenfiddich 12YO) to bland and immature expressions best suited to cooking (Glen Parker Single Malt). With this in mind, we took a stab at this Ardmore with some trepidation.

Nose: Light seaside peat of the sort barely kissed by Islay iodine. Creamy cherries and cloves with smoke and fennel. Dried fruits come out with a drop of water, which is highly recommended.

Good Whisky, Not Old Whisky

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"Well, how old is it?" A whisky's age statement is one of about four standard specifications listed on a bottle, and does the least to describe what's in the bottle. When ScotchBlog.ca visited Scotland in April, not once did a distillery manager, master distiller, or master blender say, "I want to make a 30-year-old whisky." What they did say was that they wanted to make good whisky. No whisky can be judged by its age; the age statement is simply a way to categorize an expression, to build a brand.

The unique character common to a distillery's line is created before the spirit ever hits the barrel. Careful grain selection, maintaining a consistent fermentation procedure and specific yeast, the still design, the distillation process, and many other variables make one distillery's products unique among hundreds of other distilleries. Careful adherence to these procedures and materials keep a distillery's products consistent across expressions, and across decades of production.

How do you like your whiskey?

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We're conducting a survey on how people enjoy their whiskey and what types they drink. 

Do you chill your whiskey? 

Add just a splash of water? 

Or, drink it straight from the cask as nature intended?

Bruichladdich Sherry Edition - Pedro Ximinez 1992

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Thumbnail image for Bruichladdich Sherry PX 1992
It is an unfortunate reality that the LCBO typically doesn't make much of an effort to even occasionally stock their shelves with rarer Bruichladdich expressions. Typically, one must travel to locales where specialty shops stock harder to find releases. This 17 year old, 43% ABV bottling was purchased this past summer at the fantastic Park Avenue Liquor in New York City. Finishing in first-fill Pedro Ximénez sherry casks has transformed Bruichladdich's light, pure spirit into a rich smörgåsbord of notes and flavours.

Nose: Figs and dates immediately pop from the glass. Buttery toffee and brown sugar intermingle wonderfully with the light smoke of the base spirit. Richness is the defining characteristic here, a surprise departure from the typical Bruichladdich dram. There is a sweet fresh baked dough note that appears after adding a touch of water. 

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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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