June 2015 Archives
With Father's Day less than a week away on Sunday, June 21, 2015 we at ScotchBlog.ca have compiled our yearly Father's Day Gift Buying Guide with a list of suggested gift bottles. But, before we get going, please allow me to offer some advice on what not to buy: whisky stones. Every year whisky drinkers the world over are gifted these cubes of soapstone meant to provide cooling effects to glasses of whisky without diluting them. While the intent of the product is admirable, their usefulness is highly suspect as we have written about before; and to top it all off, if your intended recipient has been drinking whisky for more than a year or two, the odds are quite high that they already have several sets from previous well-wishers. Please don't buy your Grandfather, Dad, Step-Father, or Father-in-law whisky stones this year. I'm sick of... I mean they probably already have a set or three.
Prior to embarking on your shopping trip, examine your intended recipient's existing collection. What types of whiskies occupy the shelves? Blends, single malts, bourbon, Canadian whisky? This will help you avoid duplicates (unless you've already been given a clear signal to buy yet another bottle of the fave) and will lend some context to your decision-making.
For Ontario readers, make use of the embedded links to check stock (look for the hyperlinked price!) before heading out to your local store. It is important to remember that as one of the last redeeming features of its existence, the LCBO does provide for free inter-store transfers of bottles, though delivery times will vary from 3 to 7 days depending on distance between your store and the store of origin. So you may not need to drive several hours to get a bottle. Lastly, for any locations showing one bottle of something, be sure to phone the store confirm availability.
Those of you lucky enough to reside elsewhere, there will be links provided at the end of the article to other shops in select cities that will likely offer these bottles, and in the event that the specific ones listed are not there, their whisky knowledge is sound enough to provide a viable alternate. Should you not have the most educated personnel at the ready in your location, please do not hesitate to reach out to us in real time on Twitter, via email by using the address supplied to the right, or any other form of communication you feel will be effective. We are always here to help!
We've tweaked the format a bit this time around and have forgone the price bracket approach in favour of grouping our "best-bets" by a broadly defined categories of "whisky-drinking Dad." If your Dad, Step-Dad, Grandfather, or Father-in-Law enjoys whisky you likely have some sense of what type of whisky he enjoys and his level of engagement with his dram. This year's format offers up 3 different whiskies for each "Dad-type" ranging from: Dads who rock the CC and Cola, to brand loyalists, to the backyard barbecue grillmaster, to those who prefer a single malt with the company of a cigar, to smoke-loving peat freaks, and those with a serious collection.
As always, every attempt has been made to ensure that all whiskies listed herein are available in the LCBO at the time of publication. With many of the whiskies listed, the title links to a full write up of the bottle if we've reviewed it, so if you need a little more detail please click away.
Ok, enough of the preamble. Are you ready to get started? Close your eyes, take a deep breath and think about your Dad. What's your Dad like?
Ardbeg distillery witnessed its 200th anniversary on May 30th and as in years past, Ardbeg Day was celebrated around the world with a new commemorative whisky. Released on the final day Islay's annual Feis Ile, Perpetuum is the result of Whisky Creator Dr. Bill Lumsden's inspiration from the differing styles of whisky his predecessors have created over the last 200 years. The whisky contains a blend of spirit, some from as far back as the 1970s, the standard 10 year, and a healthy dose of sherry cask and re-fill cask matured whiskies. Non chill-filtered, it shows natural colour and is bottled at an unconventional 47.4% ABV.
Last week I had the good fortune of sampling Perpetuum and revisiting the brand's current product line at Ontario's first and only Ardbeg Embassy, The Caledonian in Toronto. Still decked out in Ardbeg Day related regalia, the tasting room was full of tongue-in-cheek futurism, from the magnetically levitating Ardbeg branded whisky glasses, to the Space Pod which held one of the vials of Ardbeg "space whisky" sent to the International Space Station as part of a zero-gravity maturation experiment, to the Ardbeg "Haar," or cold mist, generator that vapourized Ardbeg for guests to inhale through a straw, all overshadowed by the vaguely sinister 200th anniversary banner depicting two hands and forearms - a human and some sort of robo-Celt-bot - poised in an act of Slainte!
Suppressing anxieties of the coming Singularity, my thoughts returned to the flight of Ardbeg in front of me: would Perpetuum appeal to those beyond the Ardbeg Committee fan club members and collectors or was this an instance of "all sizzle and no steak?"
Located on the northeast coast of the isle of Islay, Bunnahabhain distillery (pronounced 'Boon-a-havin' and meaning "foot of the river" in Scots Gaelic) was established in 1881 and has been producing whisky ever since. The village of Bunnahabhain and its distillery are accessible by following a single track road north from Port Askaig with the Sound of Islay dropping away on one side and green rolling hills rising on the other. Venturing out to this relatively remote and picturesque distillery, with the Wyre Majestic wrecked and rusted upon the rocks of the harbour, you have the unmistakeable feeling of travelling back in time.
Bunnahabhain's latest release 'Ceòbanach' harkens back to an earlier time in Islay's history. Pronounced 'kyaw-bin-och' and translating as 'smoky mist' in Scots Gaelic, the name is a reference to a time on the island in the 1800s when the air was thick with foggy sea air and smoke from the peat fires that warmed people's homes. Inspired by this sense of place and time, Ceòbanach is Bunnahabhain's latest small batch experiment with making a peaty whisky. Matured in ex-bourbon casks for over 10 years, bottled at 46.3% with natural coulour and non chill-filtered, this expression is a departure from Bunnahabhain's typically un-peated house style; itself a rarity on Islay, the land of peaty whiskies!