March 2013 Archives

South Island Single Malt 18 Year Old

NZSI18.jpgOriginally born as Lammerlaw single malt whisky at the Willowbank Distillery in Dunedin on New Zealand's South Island, the whisky in this bottle has survived many tumultuous and uncertain years prior to reaching Ontario's shelves. 

Once part of the now defunct Seagrams empire, the distillery was mothballed in 2000 when then-owners Fosters shipped the stills to Fiji to make rum. Meanwhile, the remaining cask stocks were bought by The New Zealand Malt Whisky Company which itself crumbled in 2010, only to be revived by a group of international investors later that year. All told, 600 casks from Willowbank were procured, the majority of them Lammerlaw malt, and now we and the rest of the world are finally seeing the release of their contents.

This particular whisky was distilled in 1993, bottled in 2011, and like its provenance, is simultaneously intriguing, enigmatic, strangely familiar, and thoroughly enjoyable.

On the Rocks: Whiskey Stones vs. Ice Cubes

Among all organoleptic pursuits there are gadgets, devices, dishes, and glassware designed to heighten, enhance or deliver the substance in question to the human sense organs. Over time, some of these inventions take root and become the preferred means by which the item is to be be consumed and enjoyed while others are seen as fads relegated to the dustbin of history. For the world of whiskey lovers, Teroforma has declared a solution to the problem of how best to chill whiskey. Assuming that you would want to do such a thing, we decided to investigate. 

The Whiskey Stone manufacturer claims that their stones, made in Vermont from natural non-porous soapstone, are more gentle than ice and can be used to cool down your favorite spirits just enough to take the edge off without "closing down" the flavors. Simply store the stones in the freezer for at least 4 hours before use, then add 3 stones to a glass with 2oz of whiskey and let stand 5 minutes. Moreover, the stones will not inadvertently scratch glassware and they are "particularly effective at retaining cold for extended periods of time."

While the claims that the stones impart no flavour, are non-porous, non-reactive, and won't inadvertently scratch glassware are sound, the claim that they are effective at retaining cold for extended periods did not reflect our collective experience with the stones. To resolve the matter, we set out to determine the cooling rates of ice, the traditional chilling method for whiskey, and Whiskey Stones so as to better understand the degree to which both chill a standard 2oz pour of whiskey and how long the dram stayed chilled. Running a series of measurements, ice was found to cool a dram faster and for a longer period than Whiskey Stones.

Having established the rates of cooling, we opened our discussion about the impact of Whiskey Stones on the enjoyment of a dram to our readership by means of a survey to shed light on the following: do readers chill their whiskey? How and under what circumstances do they chill whiskey and when might someone wish to use Whiskey Stones over ice? Finally, how many readers actually use them and think they're a necessary substitute to ice?

The essay below combines the empirical chilling data, analysis of the survey results and elucidation of's internal consensus to determine that Whiskey Stones provide little to no utility for the whiskey enthusiast. 

On March 7th, 2013 along with Forty Creek Distillery hosted a tasting at Quinn's Steakhouse and Irish Bar.

Guests were treated to some of Canada's finest whiskies created by local distiller, John Hall, at Forty Creek Distillery in Grimsby, Ontario.

The tasting started with three single-grain whiskies: 100% rye paired with spiced fruit, 100% barley with sharp Guinness cheddar, and 100% corn with spicy corn dip and tortillas. None of these whiskies are available for sale as John insists of selling only blends.

The tasting moved on to Forty Creek's bottles: Barrel Select paired with a sweet and sour beef meatball, Copper Pot with chili orange toffee and figs, Confederation Oak Reserve with smoked pork belly and raspberry bbq sauce, and finally the very limited Port Wood Reserve with a custom R&R dark chocolate ganache with rum-soaked raisins.

John led nothing less than a masterclass on how he makes his whisky, his motivations for establishing the distillery, and ruminations about the industry in general.

A very special thanks to Kelly and Quinn's for the expertly prepared food pairings!

Thanks very much to all who attended. Please enjoy this photo gallery of the evening.

It is a curious coincidence that independent whisky bottling companies Signatory Vintage and Gordon & MacPhail have both released single malt bottlings from the Caperdonich distillery. That in itself is not so unusual, but the fact that both releases were distilled in 1994, bottled in 2011, aged in refill sherry hogshead casks, and bottled at 46% ABV, is quite unusual. If I didn't know better, I'd think both companies had a 17 year bet as to who could produce a better product under pretty much identical conditions.

This coincidence presented an opportune time to examine the differences that separate ageing can have on the same base spirit.

Caperdonich - Gordon & MacPhail (Left) and Signatory Vintage (Right)
Which whisky is which? (Hint: The colours in the photo match what you'd expect from our review)

Hellyers Road Distillery, Original Single Malt


Hellyers Road is Australia's largest single malt distillery. Their Original expression comes without an age statement at 46.2% and is made entirely of Tasmanian malt. The wine bottle which contains this whisky comes complete with a screw top, and the back label describes "tenacity and vision," notably lacking any mention of the whisky's character.

Nose: Despite clear indications on the label, grain alcohol features prominently on the nose. Too much oak, grassy, a hint of smoke, something reminiscent of sea salt, a touch of black licorice. The nose is unrefined and lacks any significant depth.

Palate: The plum note and mint undertone is a nice but cheap cocoa packed with heat and uncomfortable spice are sure to trigger an involuntary grimace.


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

Whisky Wheel

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