November 2013 Archives

Three Ships 5 Year Old Blended Whisky

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Three Ships Select 5YO.jpgAt ScotchBlog we often focus on the higher priced whiskies that move us to write about them for good or ill. In so doing we often seem to pass by what one can call "daily drams" because they fail to give us pause to think since we comparatively spend so much less of our money on them. Encountering Three Ships for the first time I was intrigued by its origins in South Africa and its use of Scotch whiskies blended with its own to yield a finished product. Upon opening it, that intrigue morphed into genuine interest in how a $35 whisky could deliver all that it does. 

Coming from the James Sedgwick Distillery in Wellington, South Africa (just under an hour's drive from Cape Town), this particular blend features malt and grain whiskies both from its own stills and from unnamed Scottish distillers as well. It would be wrong of me to speculate on the exact provenance of the whiskies in this bottle, so rather than speculating, please join me as we explore it. 

Whisky 101: Thursday, December 12, 2013

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Have you ever wanted to explore whisky but didn't know where to start? Habits Logo.jpg

Are you a fan of whisky but struggling to figure out which ones will satisfy your taste buds? 

Did you know that whisky can be successfully paired with food so that the dish and the dram compliment each other? 

If you have ever pondered these or any other questions relating to the enjoyment of whisky, then perhaps you should join us at Habits Gastropub on Thursday, December 12th at 8pm as together we will explore 5 different styles of whisky from 5 different countries. Each whisky will be paired with an amuse-bouche custom made by the team that recently won Now Magazine's Readers Choice Award for Best Gastro-Pub and the tasting will be guided by us, but please don't let that scare you. 

Advance tickets are $55 after tax and tip and are available directly from the fine folks at Habits, who can be reached at 416-533-7272. Seating is limited, as are the whiskies, so if you, your friends, or your family are interested then I would recommend picking up the phone sooner rather than later. 

Here's hoping that we see a few friendly faces and many new ones on the 12th, and to everyone regardless of your availability: Slainte! 
On October 31st, 2013 ScotchBlog.ca along with The Balvenie distillery and PMA Canada, hosted a tasting at The Spoke Club.

Guests were treated to seven whiskies from the distillery, delicious food pairings with each one, as well as a discussion on cask production and restoration by Ian Macdonald, William Grant and Sons' Master Cooper.

Whiskies sampled were The Balvenie 12 year old DoubleWood with warm dates stuffed with walnuts, the 14 year old Caribbean Cask with wild mushroom strudel & truffle oil, the 17 year old DoubleWood with a grilled cheese sandwich made  5 year old aged cheddar, the 15 year old Single Cask (arguably the belle of the ball) w/ prosciutto wrapped scallops and a roasted apple chutney, the 21 year old PortWood w/ lamb chops, and finally two cask strength barrel samples (1 sherry, 1 bourbon) w/ 85% dark chocolate wrapped cheese cake.

Ian was kind enough to bring a set of cask-making tools to the tasting to aid in describing the processes necessary to keep casks at The Balvenie and Glenfiddich in Dufftown in top whisky-making condition.

A very special thanks to the distillery, Beth at PMA for guiding the tasting, Ian for showing us how casks are kept up, and finally The Spoke Club for providing a beautiful venue and truly fantastic food pairings.

Please enjoy this photo gallery of the evening.



Caol Ila 12 year old

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caol12.jpg
Meaning "Sound of Islay" in Gaelic, Caol Ila (pronounced Cull-Eela) was founded near Port Askaig on Islay in 1846 and has grown to become the largest distillery on the island. Owned by Diageo, most of Caol Ila's annual production of nearly 4 million litres is used for blending with very little kept for maturation as single malt. While Caol Ila single malt is often peated like its Islay neighbours, it is known and appreciated for its balance and lighter style. 

Having sampled a few independent bottlings of Caol Ila along with the Distiller's Edition and found them quite approachable and enjoyable; I had yet to try the 12 year old 43% ABV distillery bottling. As luck would have it, I happened upon a 1L bottle at the Duty-Free shop at Pearson International Airport and finally I got the chance to try the original.

Nose: Straight away, a whiff of poolside chlorine that quickly sweetens to a more herbacious, almost minty, medicinal aroma. Bursts of citrus atop a sort of doughy breadiness flecked with buttery vanilla notes provide are intertwined with damp leaves and a thread of smoke. Let it breathe for a few minutes to reveal floral tones and a gentle brine
GMCC Craigellachie 1991.jpgOnce known as "the other distillery in Craigellachie" due to the prominence of its neighbour Macallan, the town's namesake distillery has been around since 1891 and producing primarily for blended whisky throughout much of its existence. A component of Dewar's blends, the malt whisky produced here has rarely seen the light of day as a single malt without the aid of an independent bottler. So it comes as little surprise that independent impresarios Gordon & MacPhail have been the ones to bring this distillery out of the shadows and onto Ontario shelves, doing so as always by maturing it in their own bespoke sherry casks, bottling it at its zenith. 

Distilled during Craigellachie's centenary year and bottled in 2010 at 43%, this 19 year old expression is a quintessential Speyside dram. Easily accessible to all once it is in the glass, perhaps the greatest challenge is finding a bottle to call your own, but once that feat is accomplished a fantastic array of scents and sensations awaits.

Ontario launch of Highland Park's Loki

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On October 29th, 2013, ScotchBlog members attended a tasting of the newest release of Highland Park's limited release Valhalla collection, Loki. The tasting took place at The Loft, located in Toronto's Distillery District. The 10, 12, 18, and 21 year old expressions were also on offer, along with a delicious spread of fine cheeses, warm finger food, and even desserts dressed up as miniature burgers and hotdogs.


Loki's nose features citrus peel with a strong floral character, candied pear and apple, butter cream icing lightly spiced with cardamom, and ginger. No smoke or peat is detectable.

On the palate, Loki shape-shifts to meaty earthy smoke and damp musty leaves, candied fruit sweetness with white pepper and a hint of citrus. No heat and a medium mouthfeel at 48.7% abv.

Finally, the finish is long with woodsmoke, the dried fruit continues, bitter and dry.

Only 50 bottles are available in Ontario at just short of $300. Our attending members were divided in opinion. Loki is a multifaceted expression better sampled in a quiet space over a long period. Its character will evolve, given time in the glass, and different folks will have different opinions. The very brief tasting made Loki difficult to recommend, especially with regard to its price point.

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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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