February 2019 Archives

Ballantine's The Glenburgie 15 Years Old

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A couple of years back I was turned onto Glenburgie during a chance encounter at a New Brunswick liquor store and since then I've kept my eye out for other bottlings of this somewhat hard-to-find Speyside single malt. 

So, when I discovered this distillery label release of Glenburgie 15 years old on LCBO shelves this past December, I leapt at the opportunity to try it. For the first time in Ontario, the so-called "heart of Ballantine's" blended Scotch whisky is available as an aged, stand-alone offering and is bottled at 40% ABV. 

Similar to Dewar's "Last Great Malts" product launch a couple of years back which released a handful of single malts typically destined for blending as stand alone bottles; the Chivas and Glenlivet Group is offering whisky enthusiasts access to the core malts that make up it's flagship Ballantine's blend: Miltonduff, Glentauchers and Glenburgie. Typically, these malts are only available through independent bottlers and so it was quite a surprise to me to see them all appear under their original distillery labelling and aged to a very respectable 15 years. 

I quite enjoyed the Gordon and MacPhail 10 year old expression but how would this older bottling, matured exclusively in ex-bourbon American oak, hold up to my reference point?

Bearface Canadian Whisky

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Sourced and blended whiskies might just be the next big trend in Canadian whisky. More and more of these sourced, non-distillery, bottlings keep popping up on the landscape.

After all, it takes a small fortune and several years to build, staff and launch a new distillery not to mention the lag time between the first run of spirit off the still and the requisite three years of waiting around for the liquid to age before it can legally be called "Canadian whisky."

Canadian brands like Whistle Pig, Signal Hill, Twelve Barrels, and now Mark Anthony Brands' Bearface Canadian whisky have bypassed the risk and sunk costs of operating their own distilleries and instead have sourced their whiskies from established Canadian producers. More than independent bottlers, these brands try to put their own spin on their sourced spirit through additional barrel finishing and blending.

Bearface is refreshingly upfront about its status as a sourced whisky, epitomized by it's "hide nothing, fear nothing" slogan. Using three types of casks in its production, Bearface is a single grain whisky that was first aged 7 years in ex-bourbon barrels "on the shores of Georgian Bay," before being shipped across the country to Mission Hill B.C. where it spent time in red wine casks made from French oak. But, for master blender Andres Faustinelli, that wasn't enough wood influence! 

Something was missing, so the finishing touch was a few months in bespoke new Hungarian oak casks to add a "unique spice finish", before it was finally bottled at 42.5% ABV. 

The whisky has a lovely reddish hue and the bottle packaging shows evidence of thoughtful and careful design touches from the Bearface branding on the cork and cap to the "claw marks" on the bottle and the "tear" out of the labelling. 

It certainly looks nice but how does it taste? 


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