Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Malt Mission 2009 #352

Bunnahabhain 1997 10yo
"Heavily Peated", cask 5366
Signatory Vintage
Islay Single Malt Whisky
60% abv

The peaty spirit being produced at Bunnahabhain (boonahawvin) is called "moines" and the contents of this puppy are of that variety. Some have hypothesised that some of the no-age statement peaty/islay brands on the market with mystery contents are actually some of this peaty Bunnahabhain. Very possible, Watson.

For more distillery info or to see all Bunnahabhains had on the mission, click HERE.

This was a wedding gift from BK. Thank you, you lovely Japanadian, bass-playing goalie.


Cranberries, plums, soil and salt. Faint eggy notes with gummy bears, sour cherries, and a general fruitiness that is quite appealing.

Cigarette butts and Halls lozenges, brownies, burnt crispy bits of cheese under the broiler, custard, raisins, and a puff of exhaust. Lengthy finish of sweet sherry and tarry smoke.


If you have been narrow minded enough to call Bunnahabhain the boring Islay malt, then it is about time you revisit it. Not that this is outstandingly delicious whisky, but it is outstandingly stand-out-ish. And those who like 'em down and dirty will drool over this sold out gem.

Malt Mission #351
Malt Mission #353
Malt Mission #354
Malt Mission #355

Malt Mission HOME

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Malt Mission 2009 #351

Islay Mist
Blended Scotch Whisky

40% abv


$22 (USD)

Here begins a string of Islay whiskies to be tasted here on the malt mission and as "good cheap whisky" (and variations) is currently the most popular search bringing folks to Dr. Whisky, I figured I would start with a good, cheap whisky.

I sat at my laptop for a stretch of time this afternoon just looking over blogs and e-publications' responses to whisky events and/or tastings I have done for work in the past few months. Thank you all for you kind words and support of our family company.

Then, as I sat at a friend's book reading thinking, "I am laughing, I am feeling his words, I understand what he is saying", it occurred to me that as genius as I thought his short story was, I will not remember it accurately nor will I ever really KNOW what he was saying.

This impasse, I thought, is similar to that which lies between me presenting a Scotch 101/5-dram tasting and some blogger/writer/journalist/podcaster/chef attendee later responding to it with lines like "the peatiest barrels are the sherry ones" and "Japanese Scotch is increasingly popular." I did not directly convey these fallacies but I have no doubt that the attendee heard them.

Then I thought, if I feel this communication breakdown THERE then it must exist HERE, between what I have been taught/told/shown/tasted and what I know/think/observe/opine.

So a few minutes ago I pointed and clicked through a few whisky websites in my browser and realised/reaffirmed/noted that all these representations are spoiled by our pea-brained human influence that 100 Ian Buxtons, a vibrant Whiskypedia, and a reborn Michael Jackson could never remedy.

And then, just two seconds ago I sipped a single cask Bunnahabhain (thank you, BK) and thought of .... nothing

And I understood.

Islay Mist from MacDuff International is comprised of Laphroaig, some Speyside and Highland malts whiskies, along with some grain whisky. I used to buy a lot of this when I lived in Edinburgh.


Seaweed and key lime pie. Shortbread, shaving cream, and salt water. Good grain presence, too, adding backbone.

Malty, smoky, salty like black olives, luscious vanilla sweetness pressed hard against peat smoke.


Could drink this in large, satisfying sips. Very well constructed. The good malt presence adds a chewiness and depth that along with the clear medicinal Islay influence makes this a really satisfying dram with a distinct peaty tang. Great value for that Islay urge.

Malt Mission #350

Malt Mission #352
Malt Mission #353
Malt Mission #354
Malt Mission #355

Malt Mission HOME

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Spirit of Toronto 2009

Spirit of Toronto 2009
Last year around this time I told you about "a whisky lover's dream," The Spirit of Toronto.

This is a celebration of the water of life (whisky, whiskey, scotch whisky, and congnac) with over 100 drops to try, dozens of exhibitors, live jazz, a killer cocktail bar, a cigar lounge (outside), and ten truly excellent masterclasses, including local maverick John Hall leading folks through creations from Forty Creek, Dave Broom taking whisky lovers to some silent stills/closed distilleries, Mike Nicolson relaying his stories from the ten+ distilleries he worked at while sharing drops from a handful, and many more.

Spirit of Toronto
Friday May 8, 2009

Roy Thompson Hall

Yes, ticket prices have gone up by ten bucks both advance and at the d
oor this year, but the event is worth every penny in that it allows the subjects of Totalitario to enjoy spirits of their choosing without coupon-per-serving systems used by other festivals, perhaps proving that the citizen CAN control their liquor intake and perhaps do not need the state to interfere in selecting what they can and cannot drink.

It will no doubt be a great event and the only thing of its kind in 2009.

Attend. Enjoy. Say "hi".

Friday, May 01, 2009

Malt Mission 2009 #350

Glenmorangie Signet
Glenmorangie Signet
Highland Single Malt Whisky

46% abv

$185 (USD)

In the autumn of 2008, it was hard to be in any whisky nerd conversation, geeky whisky forum, or read whisky magazines without coming across the buzz around Glenmorangie Signet.

Designed by Dr. Bill Lumsden over the past decade, Signet is made with spirit that included some roasted and chocolate barley (refers to the toasting level, not actual chocolate) vatted with mature Gelnmorangie of older vintages. More details of the recipe and cask selection at Whisky Pages. Its name is inspired by the 8th century pict logo on the Cadbol Stone found on distillery property and the packaging is absolutely stunning, in my opinion. Good post on the stone and the whisky at WhiskyViking.

Hearing Dr. Bill talk about the Signet is quite an experience as his excitement for the spirit goes beyond that of a biochemist proud of his test results into the realm of a mad whisky scientist enthusiastically celebrating a successful experiment, in his words, "one of our greatest and most complex creations to date."

I remember drinking this on a boat on the Hudson River, under stars and memorial bars of light from the site of the twin towers, among people relaying stories of where they were that tragic day in September. An inspiring moment with an inspiring dram.

For more distillery info and to see all Glenmorangies had on the mission, click HERE. Cheers for the drop, DB.


Intimidatingly complex. Rye (the grain, not the spirit), almond oil, pepper, face cream, Japanese seaweed crackers, vintage clothing shops, cocoa powder, kiwi, 3 Musketeers, black bean sauce, pecan pie... I could go on. And will on my own time. Incredibly un-Scotch-y, in a way. I could be convinced that this is some new creation from John Hall's Forty Creek.

Toasty and malty with a complex and punchy array of coffee, mint chocolate, kidney beans, raspberries, pecans, crepes, maple, and more. Gorgeous nutty finish with the balance of oak influences reaching for heaven.


Un-traditional, or perhaps more accurately atypical, whisky in every sense and to every sense, and quite exhilarating as a result. A drop of water sweetens the nose but really collapses the delivery on the palate, although it unpacks the tight package of flavour in a most pleasing way.

"Unlike anything released before," reads the press release, and the grand statement is completely true. I have also read Signet referred to as "the dark side of Glenmorangie." Also true. But more than just an impressive whisky, this release is monumental in that it takes our perception of Glenmorangie from Scotland's Favourite Malt Whisky to One of the World's Greatest Malt Whiskies, a key step in markets like Singapore, where this whisky was initially launched, and world-wide. Perfect balance of wise marketing and wonderful whisky-making. If only I could afford a bottle. I imagine the packaging alone, as gorgeous as it is, would put a dent in my wallet... literally; the stopper is even heavier than Dewar's Signature.

Malt Mission #346
Malt Mission #347
Malt Mission #348
Malt Mission #349