Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is one of the more unique whisky award competitions each year. While selected judges pick a panel of finalists, it’s whisky fans that vote on the winner. This is quite the contrast to the typical whisky award program, where judges are limited to a few (or many) experts in the field, and sessions are often behind closed doors. Spirit of Speyside is among the more accessible whisky award programs, and this year its reach is broadening.Read More
Whenever I go to Glenlivet tastings, the Glenlivet Brand Ambassadors recommends a half-whisky and half-water mixture for the Founder's Reserve. Already, there's a problem. I rarely water down my whisky, and Glenlivet Founder's Reserve is bottled at the minimum of 40% ABV.Read More
While at the Spirits of Toronto event, I attended the Master class hosted by Gordon and MacPhail. We were given five different single malts to try, of which the last two were mystery Scotches. Prior to the class starting, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sniff each of the five offerings, and I noted something “special” about the fifth glass. When taking a whiff I immediately thought of an old empty wine barrel that was left out in a cold wine cellar. Perhaps I thought of an old dingy wine cellar itself. Regardless, this was either a bad thing or a good thing, and I couldn’t tell which.
By the time we got to tasting the fifth glass, much of that particular scent was gone and in its stead was a youthful, fruitful scent rich and vibrant with tangerines and unripened banana. On the palate the scotch was slightly peaty. The vibrant citrus notes continued on, but they were richer and creamier than what I have tasted in other Scotches. Voluptuous is a good way to describe the mouth feel, with a long after-taste that lingered on and on. This Scotch had all the vibrancy of a young Scotch, but instead of the usual harshness associated with a more youthful drink, there was a smooth finish with a matured sharpness. Yet unlike other old Scotches that I had, this one wasn’t too sweet, which works well with my preferences.
After the tasting we were asked for guesses as to the age of the Scotch. Given the contradictions, all of us had difficulty placing it, with some guessing 10-year and others guessing 30-years. We were all surprised when we were told that this bottle of Glenlivet had been aged in the cask for 70 years, and was originally bottled in 1940. A full bottle retails for $20,000 or more and there were only 100 bottles produced, including one that was given to the Queen of England (which she than donated to a museum).
It was a fantastic finish to the Gordon and MacPhail tasting that day which included Mortlack 15 YO, Glen Grant 21 YO, and Strathisla 25 YO. It's a rare experience that I was fortunate to be part of.
Also a special thank you to Michael Urquhart for taking us through the various single malts available.
Note: Originally published on Spotlight Toronto