What a year it’s been! I’ve travelled across Canada, New York City and visited Scotland. Two years ago, I wrote my first article here in Scotland; so an invitation to Scotch Camp, sounded interesting and we would be after all tasting whisky from the “Last Great Malts of Scotland.” Two buses took us out to Caledon where we were welcomed at a modern house with a small private lake. Our journey, rather than being in Scotland, would actually take place in the woodland around the lake with five different locations representing the five different malts we would be tasting. After all, we couldn’t fly to Scotland for the day but we could pretend we were out in the countryside. Although, there were no sheep, a few dogs but no sheep. Onto our five stations where we tasted the first whisky listed but the others were available at the end for tasting at our leisure. I should also note that prior to the event I was able to speak to Gabe Cardarella, North American Brand Ambassador for Dewar’s Whisky.
Aberfeldy is the prime whisky for blending and the distillery where you find the visitor center. Sitting not far from where John Dewar was born, where the water source which is a stream called the Pitille Burn runs beside the distillery. Aberfeldy is called the golden dram because the water source is famous for being a gold panning site. This is the only distillery built by the Dewars, so the whisky bottles represent a little about the history. The whisky is made with 100% Scottish barley with a “longer” fermentation time of 72 hours. Tall thin stills are used for distillation and sherry casks may be used, most of the Aberfeldy you’ll drink is predominately aged in American Oak ex Bourbon casks . The whisky is married in partially filled Bourbon casks. You’ll taste a hint of vanilla and sweet heather.
The three Aberfeldy whiskies are as follows:
Aberfeldy 12 (LCBO $59.95) is described as having a nose that is fragrant with notes of incense, nutmeg, heather and scented honey with fruity softness. Redolent of cherry, pineapple, toast and raspberry jam. Very light smokiness and a touch of sherry; palate as medium-bodied, rounded and syrupy. Lively fresh fruit flavours, fudge, cocoa powder and the slightest whisper of peat and a finish described as full and smooth, long fruity glow of Seville oranges in a slowly dry finish.
Aberfeldy 16 (LCBO $99.95) is described as having a nose of Alba’s rare alchemy, exhaling honey, citrus and spicy cloves; palate as Sherried and full like fruitcake, then dabs of dark chocolate; and a finish described as a soothing Scotch elixir for a favourite couthie corner.
Aberfeldy 21 (LCBO $194.80) is described as having a nose of Alluring medium sweet aromas of heather honey and macadamia followed by a fruity orange softness with hints of beeswax and vanilla.; palate as full-flavoured and medium-bodied with touches of Seville orange, honey, oak and a trace of peat; and a finish described as long, spicy and elegantly drying with a whiff of smoke.
Aultmore sits within the Bermuda triangle of illicit distilling called the foggy moss due to the morning and evening fog that hides the stills. The stills were hidden in the burns along the water source and along the 9 mile stretch of road in Keith called the Buckie Road. Now if you find yourself in a pub along this stretch of road and wish to order a dram of Aultmore, do not ask for it by name since you’ll be called a tourist. Locals on the other hand ask for a nip of the Buckie Road. The distillery had a storied past with various closings during and after the war but having had various upgrades it also uses Scottish barley, has tall thin stills with a whisky that is delicate, grassy in character, and hence a whisky that has a Class A rating from blenders because of its ability to lend itself to blends. However, it is one of the few Dewar malts that’s allocated in terms of availability due to it’s highly sought nature by blenders – especially when annual production is 4.5 million litres.
The two Aultmore whiskies are as follows:
Aultmore 12 (LCBO $79.95) is described as born of fod, bog and brimming wee burns, a verdant nose of dewy moss and delicate flora, sweet liquid tracking a secluded path, gliding through green grass and fresh wild herbs.
Aultmore 18 (LCBO $179.95) is described as stravaigin’ through misty, untamed terrain, bananas and pears hidden in the haze; amble on to some old local howff, where this satiny, sweet-and-spicy drop is finally disclosed.
Craigellachie distillery was built by Peter Mackie who was hard to work for and demanded utmost quality for the production. For his employees, I was told that he built a bread making machine under the boardroom, calling it brain, bone and muscle. The distillery workers had to eat a piece of the bread every single day before they went to work. Today you’ll find Craigellachie sits right in the heart of Speyside, using a warm tub and condensers. A unique feature of the distillery is that it uses an oil fire kilm and steam that is sulfury to dry the barley resulting in a taste of a struck match. A unique feature of the bottles below is that the ages are all prime numbers.
Craigellachie 13 (LCBO $79.95) is described as flames. Flared Light. Fireworks. Breath in Bonfire Nigth. Clove-studded baked apples. Sulphury cordite. Hefty, malty, mazy in mouth. Bonnie Sweet, but with fire in its belly.
Craigellachie 17 (LCBO $153.95) is described as a caustic candy store. Vanilla, exotic fruits. Sweet treats. Then the sucker punch; a jab of aromatic liquorice and a smooth, smouldering end. A nippy sweetie of a nip.
Craigellachie 23 (LCBO $454.95) is described as a malty tang. Oil. Grit and grist. Summons the mill house of old. Then cinnamon and a menthol dunt. Pigheaded, big flavoured. Sweet-and-sulphur with each mouthful. A muckle meaty dram.
Deveron is made in the MacDduff Distillery, the most easterly distillery lying on the River Deveron. The greenish-blue glass represents the sea glass that you’ll find on sea shores just south of the north sea. A fishing village where Deveron was a modern distillery at the time, built in the 1960s, and marked the modern age. Most whisky was matured in sherry casks at that time but were moving towards the cheaper bourbon casks resulting in the character of Scottish whisky changign. If you look at Dewars from the 1960s and 70s you’ll try the white label which is amber but today it’s different; nice, but different. It was the first to use shell and tube condensing. In addition, it has uneven stills: three wash and two spirit stills not only are condensers using vertical, two of the condensers are horizontal to get more time for the spirit to make contact with copper resulting in the sweeter whisky. The Deveron is a new proprietary bottling and interestingly enough it is the principal malt used in the William Lawsons blend, which is the fastest growing blend in Russia.
The two Deveron whiskies are as follows:
Deveron 12 (LCBO $64.95) is described as toasted grain and apples, seaborne spice, calm from the storm.
Deveron 18 (LCBO $139.95) is described as a delve in fruity depths where nutty notes are stowed, a dram for blether and fireside cheer.
Royal Brackla was established in 1812 and 1833 saw King Willam IV granted it the first ever Royal Warrant status for a whisky and making it known as the King’s own whisky. It was closed during the war, the land was used for supplying guns. It has the best barley fields, tall onion stills, 80 hours of fermentation and finally aged in American oak casks and finished for 3-4 months in first filled Oloroso sherry casks. It has a big colour and at 12 years you don’t expect the wood smoke and then sweetness comes through.
The three Royal Brackla’s are as follows:
Royal Brackla 12 (LCBO $99.95) is described as salute a superior Scotch: almonds, vine fruits, opulent spices; stepped in sherried richness. Ennobled nectar, fit for a King.
Royal Brackla 16 (LCBO $149.95) is described as a royal flush of flavour: vanilla, soft caramel, ripe apricots; replete with sherry tones. Hold court with a monarch of the glens.
Royal Brackla 21 (LCBO $349.95) is described as all hail a high-born spirit: summer berries, dark chocolate, star anise; infused with sherry sweetness. A member of the malt aristocracy.
A few other interesting whiskies
The Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Solera Reserve (LCBO $79.95) is a tasty dram that is aged in European Oak sherry casks using the Solera Vat system. In addition to being a tasty 15 year old whisky, Glenfiddich donates $2 from the sale of each of these bottles sold in Canada to the Wounded Warriors Canada Can Praxis Equine Therapy Program. If you would like to learn more about the wounded warriors you can visit their website www.woundedwarriors.ca The tasting notes describe the nose as being an intriguingly complex aroma. Sweet heather honey and vanilla fudge combined with rich dark fruits; taste of Silky smooth, revealing layers of sherry oak, marzipan, cinnamon and ginger. Full-bodied and bursting with flavour; and a finish that is Satisfyingly rich with lingering sweetness.
Lagavulin 8 Year Old Limited Edition, one-time only bottling (LCBO $99.95) was released to celebrate the distilleries 200 year anniversary by revisiting the late 1880s where it is described by Alfred Barnard who was the first ever whisky writer who sampled an Eight year old Lagavulin and raved about it! I love the sweetness that’s mixed in with the peat but the official tasting notes, which I’ve condensed, describe the nose as being immediately quite soft with clean, fresh notes, hints of
milk chocolate, lemon and the developing fragrant tea-scented smoke alongside nose-drying, maritime aromas, with subtle cereal; with a palate that is sweet, smoky and warming , with a growing, smoky pungency, then dry, with more smoke. Charred, with minty, dark chocolate; the finish is lovely, clean, very long and smoky. Smoothly, subtle minted smoke surrounds chocolate tannins, leaving a late drying note to emerge in time.
Japanese whisky fans will be happy to know that the Hibiki Harmony (LCB0 $99.95) is back in stock, you can look at the write up from last year to learn more about this whisky. A new release that may interest you is the Toki (LCBO $59.95) which is described as having a clear gold color with a nose containing basil, green apple and honey; a palate of grapefruit, green grapes, peppermint, thyme; and a finish that is described as subtly sweet and spicy finish with a hint of vanilla oak, white pepper and ginger.
If you’re looking for Canadian whisky side previously reviewed Canadian Club 100% Rye (LCBO $39.95) and the Jim Murray favourite (name Whisky of the Year 2016 and Canadian Whisky 2017 Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye (LCBO $34.95).
I would also recommend the Crown Royal Cornerstone Blend (LCBO $69.95), the first limited release from the Crown Royal Noble Collection. It is described as having a nose that is Ripe fallen apple, malted grain, toffee, vanilla extract; a palate that is Sweet Caramel and rich toasted grains, subtle oak character with orchard and tropical fruit essences and a finish that is Fruity tartness fades into a gentle woody spice.
The Macallan in lalique – Exceptional Oak Cask, 50 years old – There were 470 bottles produced of this rare set. I thought it was time to go big with a dream dram, why not, most will not try this. I will probably be in this group but how much do you think it would cost you to purchase this bottle now? I’ve looked it up and saw it selling for just under 100,000USD, This was the first decanter in the series so we know it is not a current release but it looks like it has some appreciation for collectors who purchased it. Note that I’m looking to expand beyond dream dram and look into the dynamics of collecting and price appreciation amongst the various distilleries. Let me know what you thing at email@example.com. So lets learn a bit more about this truly luxury whisky.
The original outcome of this partnership is a series of Lalique crystal decanters, each celebrating The Macallan’s Six Pillars, and holding some of the oldest and rarest whiskies ever released by the distillery.
Spiritual Home; Easter Elchies House, built in 1700, lies at the heart of The Macallan estate / Curiously Small Stills; contribute to the distinctively rich, fruity ‘new make’ spirit of The Macallan / Finest Cut; we take only 16% of the final distillation from the spirit stills to fill into our oak casks. This is the best of the best / Exceptional Oak Casks; The Macallan spends more on sourcing, building, seasoning and caring for its casks than any other single malt whisky / Natural Colour; the rich range of colours in The Macallan whiskies is drawn only from the wood of our exceptional oak casks / The Macallan itself; the peerless spirit – one of the world’s greatest whiskies.
The tasting notes are describe as Colour: Burnished Gold Aroma: Heady top notes of cumin, cardamom and darkest maraschino. Taste: All encompassing and aromatic with dark prunes and plain chocolate. Finish: Very long finish with a Spanish sherry oak signature and a hint of peat-smoke. ABV: 46%
WHISKEY INSPIRED COCKTAIL RECIPES
For those chilly evenings
• 2 oz. Glenfiddich 12 Year Old
• 6 oz. Hot Apple Cider
Garnish with a cinnamon stick and serve.
• 50 cl Courvoisier VSOP
• 2 cl of Triple Sec
• 2 cl of fresh lemon juice
Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake well and strain into a martini or coupette glass.
Midnight in Paris
• 2.5 cl Courvoisier VSOP
• Ginger ale
• Half an orange slice
Fill a highball glass with ice, pour the cognac, top-up.
The Old Fashioned
• 5 oz. Bulleit Bourbon
• piece(s) sugar cube(s)
• 3 dash(es) bitters
• 2 slice(s) lemon(s)
• 2 slice(s) orange(s)
Muddle sugar and bitters in a rocks glass. Add bourbon and large ice cube. Twist slices of lemon and orange peels over the drink and drop slices.
• 1 oz Bulleit Bourbon
• ¼ oz Sweet Vermouth
• ¼ oz Dry Vermouth
Stir over ice in a rocks glass. Serve with a lemon twist.
New Amsterdam Mule
• 1½ oz New Amsterdam Vodka
• 3 oz ginger beer
• ½ oz simple syrup
• ½ oz fresh lime juice
• Sprig of mint
Pour New Amsterdam Vodka over ice. Add simple syrup and lime juice. Top with ginger beer and stir. Add mint sprig as a garnish and serve.
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