Glassware, Whisky, and Winning!

Glassware, Whisky, and Winning!

Some years ago, Jamie and I went to a whisky festival in Toronto where all the whisky tasted terrible. It all tasted the same. The conspiracist in me suspected the big name brand bottles were refilled with junk whisky. Later, though, I realized it was because of the glassware. The festival organizers used thick rocks glasses intended for cocktails and whisky on ice, but not for whisky poured neat.

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Lot No. 40 Cask Strength 11 Year Old (2018) Review (and comparison with 2017)

Lot No. 40 Cask Strength 11 Year Old (2018) Review (and comparison with 2017)

In the summer of 2017, Master Blender Dr. Don Livermore called the Hiram-Walker warehouse manager to ask that the six barrels intended for the that afternoon’s tasting be brought outdoors. This was unusual. Typically, when doing a tour through Hiram-Walker distillery, the much anticipated barrel tasting happens within the warehouse. That summer of August, though, was the day of the eclipse.

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Barrell Bourbon Batch 011 Review - Batches Unbourboned (that are delicious Bourbon!)

Barrell Bourbon Batch 011 Review - Batches Unbourboned (that are delicious Bourbon!)

Barrel Bourbon seeks out unique barrels of whisky from various sources, batches them, and bottles them when they’re ready to go. Their mantra is “no two batches taste alike.” It’s a good mantra. It’s a fantastic idea. It’s a play on a weakness, since smaller producers buying barrels have a challenge of producing a consistent product.

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Glenfiddich Fire & Cane Takes Aim at Islay

Glenfiddich Fire & Cane Takes Aim at Islay

Glenfiddich’s Experimental releases are pushing the distillery in new directions. Fire & Cane, the latest, is perhaps the perfect balance of price and flavor. Winter Storm is, undoubtedly, the best whisky of this excellent collection. It’s 21 Year Old Glenfiddich, however, and that comes with a high price. Fire & Cane is affordable, and dead-set on competing with peated whiskies coming from Islay.

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W.L. Weller C.Y.P.B. gets a ton of whisky collector hype, and it's great!

W.L. Weller C.Y.P.B. gets a ton of whisky collector hype, and it's great!

The people behind Buffalo Trace did research a few years ago, asking their fans on the type of whisky they’d like to see. A website asked several questions, including the preferred recipe of whisky (rye, bourbon, wheated bourbon), the age, the proof, etc. The results came in, and the Craft Your Perfect Bourbon was born. It’ll be an annual release. The first release, priced at $40, is already selling for hundreds of dollars in the after-market. Welcome to the bourbon craze. I’d hate to contribute to the hype, but Weller C.Y.P.B. is a terrific whisky. It’s probably the best in the Weller series.

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Amrut Spectrum 50% Batch 1 Reviewed

Amrut Spectrum 50% Batch 1 Reviewed

Spectrum batch 0001 is a dark, brooding, terrific hot mess. The best kind of hot mess. Later batch numbers are a little more settled, youthful, and zestier. Still, batch 0001 will likely be the collector’s favourite because you’re not going to get flavours like this anywhere else. The distillery (located in Bangalore) is the master of hot climate new world whiskies.

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Ardbeg Grooves Review - Regular vs Committee Release

Ardbeg Grooves Review - Regular vs Committee Release

Ardbeg’s annual releases are highly anticipated among fans. The most popular of recent years, Dark Cove, was much beloved and was turned (unofficially) to a regular release called AN NO. Each year, fans get something different. Each year, there are two releases; the regular releases and the committee release, intended primarily for Ardbeg committee members (an organization that’s free to join). 

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Glenfiddich Winter Storm Review - Scotch whisky with a great Canadian twist

Glenfiddich Winter Storm Review - Scotch whisky with a great Canadian twist

Winter Storm is the third of Glenfiddich’s Experimental releases (which includes IPA, and Project XX). This one has a Canadian twist, and it starts with Canadian Brand Ambassador Beth Havers. It was Beth that suggested Canadian ice-wine casks as a potential finishing barrel. Brian Kinsman, malt laster for Glenfiddich, ran with the idea. 

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Making Whisky with Peerless Distilling Head Distiller, Caleb Kilburn

Making Whisky with Peerless Distilling Head Distiller, Caleb Kilburn

Peerless Distillery is located in Louisville Kentucky. They make cask-strength ryes and bourbons, both single barrels and extremely small batches (6 or so barrels). When making whisky, they use a sweet mash instead of a sour mash, and they put their whisky into barrels at a lower proof. When visiting the distillery, I met-up with Caleb Kilburn to discuss their whisky making process. This setup the perfect back-drop for a Whisky 101 on how American Bourbon and Rye is made! Thanks Caleb, and the folks at Peerless Distillery, for the tour! 

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Booker’s Rye 13 Year Old (2016) - A Home Run Hit

Booker’s Rye 13 Year Old (2016) - A Home Run Hit

Booker’s Rye hit the market in 2016 as a one-off. Aged for thirteen years, this was a premium brand extension from Booker’s Bourbon. Jim Beam, the distillery behind Booker’s, is known for intense flavoured bourbons that use a low rye recipe (with some exceptions). Beam plays with oak flavours within their bourbon lines.

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Canadian Club Aged 40 Years - Not your everyday CC Rye

Canadian Club Aged 40 Years - Not your everyday CC Rye

Canadian Club joined the 2017 party of great Canadian whisky releases. This was an LCBO-only release at $250 a bottle, and it sold out within minutes. It’s apparently a hot-commodity in after-market trading. There are a few things not commonly spoken of when making Canadian Club 40, and it reflects in the flavour.

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Glenfiddich Project XX - A Blend of Scotch Ambassadors

Glenfiddich Project XX - A Blend of Scotch Ambassadors

Glenfiddich’s Experimental Series started with IPA, a whisky that surprised me. I thought it was a gimmick, but it turned out to be a winner in setting Glenfiddich in a new direction. The second release in the Experimental Series is Project XX (Pronounced: Project Twenty). Was this a clever marketing way to put the number twenty on the bottle? Perhaps, but the whisky inside has a clever story, and it’s a clever scotch, so let’s dive deeper.

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J.P. Wiser's Seasoned Oak - A continued celebration of Canadian blends

J.P. Wiser's Seasoned Oak - A continued celebration of Canadian blends

J.P. Wiser’s Seasoned Oak is part of the rare cask series, an annual unique release that comes out in time for father’s day. Last year’s release featured Dissertation, a play on Dr. Don Livermore’s PhD. With Seasoned Oak, this is a further celebration of the flavours barrels bring to the whisky we enjoy.

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Laird of Fintry 2016 - 42%

Laird of Fintry 2016 - 42%

Despite the claims on the website, this isn’t “scotch styled” single malt. It’s single malt, reimagined. The malted barley notes do come through, but this is a North American style single malt. I do hate going on about this point, but marketing needs to meet expectation, and this isn’t “scotch styled.”

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Dun Bheagan 31 Year Old Cask (Cask #6994) 53.8% Inchgower

Dun Bheagan 31 Year Old Cask (Cask #6994) 53.8% Inchgower

I’m often offered samples of whisky from strange places. This sample came to me via a square glass bottle with a wide lid. On a whim, I poured the sample into a Glencairn glass and quickly started jotting down tasting notes. It was immediately captivated. The nose is beautiful with complexity, booziness, and intensity. The palate is even more impressive. My original writeup on tastings notes for the palate were two paragraphs long. 

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Glenfiddich IPA Review - The New Generation of Glenfiddich

Glenfiddich IPA Review - The New Generation of Glenfiddich

Glenfiddich IPA single malt scotch initially struck me as a gimmick. Perhaps it is, but it’s a tasty one. My internal monologue mocked it at first, though—why would the best selling single malt scotch in the world jump on a trend like IPA barrel finishing? Sure, IPAs are trendy, but will they sell more single malt scotch? 

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Balvenie Peated Triple Cask & Peat Week Reviewed

Balvenie Peated Triple Cask & Peat Week Reviewed

There are a few misconceptions around Scotch whisky that I still hear today. First, I often hear how scotch is ‘smoky’ with strong iodine notes, and therefore a big turn-off for whisky drinkers. In truth, most scotch sold contains very little in terms of smoky notes. The second misconceptions is, only Islay distilleries make peated whiskies. In truth, peat was a main fuel source up until the 1950s in many parts of Scotland and was commonly used in the whisky making process. 

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