Thursday, July 22, 2010

Maniac launches Canadian Whisky Website

I got an email from friend, fellow Canuck, and Malt Maniac Davin de Kergommeaux to inform me of his new site Canadian Whisky dedicated to, you guessed it, Canadian Whisky.

With more and more hip US bars carrying Canadian ryes and other whiskies and, most significantly, with Dave Pickerell's Whistlepig demanding a second (or third?) look at Canadian whisky while asking a significant price tag, the world needs Davin to share musings on the spirit of the north.

This expat looks forward to following you from south of the 49th parallel... with a chocolate bar, back bacon, pop, a mickey and a two-four close to hand. Happy trails, eh?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Malt Mission 2010 #388

Glen Garioch 12yo
Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

48% abv
$60 (USD)

Earlier this year, Glen Garioch began appearing in press releases, on blogs and in whisky magazines with new and improved look and reformulated recipe.

Glen Garioch and its siblings in the lowlands and Islay, Auchentoshan and Bowmore respectively, are owned by Morrison-Bowmore(Suntory).

In the first edition (1989) of Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion, he called Glen Garioch "the assertive peat-smoky style of highland malt that has become all too rare." Even truer today, especially as the cited distillery would be hard pressed to call it self peaty in style.

It is hard to argue that the new Nevis-designed packaging isn't a significant upgrade from the Highland kitsch of its predecessor.

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


Butter, brown sugar, ripe canteloupe, with integrated levels of spices, speaking softly.

Sweet and fruity, burnt sugar on a baked pear, balanced with oak. Water enhances a malty sweetness and elevates the oak above the fruitiness.


Clean, pleasant whisky that, without being tasted in context of its peers, doesn't really leave a distinct impression. Not that is needs to be a peaty prick or a sherried she-male to stand out. The non-chill filtration and higher abv certainly set it apart from its peers. And at whisky fairs and shows, I have seen folks raving about it. So, as I am becoming more and more convinced of every day, in tasting and evaluating any whisky it is about the context, the experience, at least as much as the content.

Malt Mission #386
Malt Mission #387
Malt Mission # 389
Malt Mission #390

Malt Mission HOME

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Malt Mission 2010 #387

Glen Grant 10yo
Speyside Single Malt Whisky
40% abv

While most of what flows off the stills at Glen Grant ends up around 5 years old and mixed with Coke in southern Europe, there is always a great indie bottling of rich, old Glen Grant to be enjoyed somewhere in the wide world of whisky. It is true that Spain, France and Italy make Glen Grant a top 5 whisky by volume globally, but it is the ability of this fine spirit to meld well with sherry and take great age in stride that afford it an enviable reputation among connoisseurs and collectors.

For more distillery info or to see all Glen Grant had on the Malt Mission, click


Seductive and sweet, berries, apricots, and riesling

Soft, at first, with lime peels and a hard spirity core that will excite some and repel others.


Just as summer slowly reveals inch after gorgeous inch of skin on far-too-young to be oogled ladies, this whisky arouses the senses guilt-ridden sniff after guilt-ridden sniff. But acting on your desires in such cases is always risky and in this case sipping the stuff belies the appeal of its nose, especially at strength. Water, bringing it down to 35% or so, helps the new make bite but neutralizes any character or complexity.

Malt Mission #386

Malt Mission #388
Malt Mission # 389
Malt Mission #390

Malt Mission HOME

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

For Scotch Lovers Whisky Explorers Club

If you have created a whisky fantasy in your mind, have a whisky society or meetup where you live, or frequent online whisky fora, websites, and blogs you have no doubt thrown around the idea of sharing wee samples with other enthusiasts by mail.

Well, imagine the same concept mixed with my favourite pub and/or household game (blind tasting and guessing) and you are close to what Doug Stone, friend and founder of the For Scotch Lovers website, has created with his Whisky Explorers Club.

I read the press release, spoke with Doug, did some math and then happily joined as the price seemed totally worth it for the enjoyment of the activity. A group of friends also joined so we all look forward to each shipment of treats. This morning I received an email saying Flight #3 was already on its way. Time flies!

If you are not a member, let me paint a picture of the club.

My first venture into the website was admittedly clunky, but after a lot of webmazing, I got signed in. Like with any new endeavor online (MyFace, YouBook, Twatter) it took a while to figure out how to navigate, where to begin, what the words meant, etc., but once logged in and dramming, all was forgotten. After two flights, it's down to a science now... although I do still have a few suggestions (below)

So once our whisky is poured and we are logged into the IQ page, we answer a series of multiple choice questions: how does it look? feel? taste? smell? do you like it? Then we get to guess from a shortlist, what whisky we think we were having.

All of these answers popoulate your final "Whisky IQ", based on your correct answers, if and when such answers can be said to exist. So the next page gives your score and tells you the answers they were looking for. Satisfying. Fun. Geeky as hell.

But from this screen there is no link to start again with another whisky, just links to BUY the whisky, and, incidentally as I tried sample 0210WY23 while walking you through, a quote from and link to this site. While the whole experience was enjoyable, I was left asking, "so what?" Like, now what? There is no community context putting my Zen Master IQ into perspective, no way to view others' comments, no forum, no nothing. Just "here's your whisky, answer some questions for us, and bye bye."

Still, overall, the game is fun, easy, and I am totally happy with my membership and look forward to each package. It is amazing fun and is a great easy gift for a whisky geek in your life.

But the club is still in its infancy, so as members I know Doug is keen to hear our thoughts, so here are a few things that would make it more enjoyable, at least for me.

- make getting into the IQ game easier once logged in, ie via a logo or link in the MY or COMMUNITY windows on right.
- make starting another product OR joining a forum discussion OR viewing others' scores easier from the last page of the IQ results.
- why do I have to fill in every "Please tell us how often you drink..."? It's just annoying not to be able to leave some blank. In fact:
- don't make me answer the golden questions (male/female, how often do you drink, etc.) more than once, ie. the first time I log in.
- put a slash through zeros on the product numbers so they can be more easily differentiated from the letter O

Beyond that, go join. It's fun and the more members, the more enjoyable the whole thing will be for all of us.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Malt Mission 2010 #386

Glen Garioch Founders Reserve
Highland Single Malt Whisky
48% abv
$45 (USD)

One of the last operating distilleries from the 18th century (and the first time featured on the Malt Mission), Glen Garioch (pronounced "Glen Geery") underwent a much needed repack and as cynical as the whisky intelligentsia can be about s-s-scrary m-m-marketing, I think the verdict was unanimous: gorgeous work. But it is not just the look of the pack that changed, the liquid moved in the direction of nurturing anorak appeal:

a) the alcohol by volume was upped to 48% because

b) the liquid is not chill-filtered.

And the geeks rejoiced.


Buttery pie crust, sourdough, Granny Smith apples, vanilla and pine.

Savoury and bright sweetness of shortbread, lemon, and white grapes. Apricots and macadamie nut oiliness. Late spicy woodiness, pine again, freshly cut saplings.


Light, fresh and appetizing with a good balance of bitter and sweet, wood influence and youthful spirit character. There are many examples of how delicious Glen Garioch can be at great ages, it is nice to have a proprietary bottling that shows its youthful charm as well, even if said charms won't woo everyone.

Malt Mission #385
Malt Mission #387
Malt Mission #388

Malt Mission # 389
Malt Mission #390

Malt Mission HOME

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Wee Whisky Month 3

whisky tasting notesWee Whisky 3 month old
65% abv (unscientific estimate)
$765,000 (or not for sale)

No one said growing up was easy, we all scratch our knees, bump our heads, or puke on ourselves along the way but the journey is what defines us. Wee Whisky has been maturing outside in the shady New York spring from hot noons to cool midnights, breathing in and out, becoming who she will inevitably become whether we like it or not.

Well, we like it.

In the disgusting humid heat (38C/100F) I have taken the cask indoors to protect it from rapid evaporation and accelerated maturation. We don't want her rolling over, crawling, walking too soon. In an ideal world, this baby will make it to 12 months, to 1 year without being dominated by her surroundings, ie. by wood.


Big sweet and powerful. Fudge, caramel, beer nuts. The perfect balance of new make-y esters and oak-extractive characteristics.

A near exact balance between spirit and cask. Very new makey at first on the palate but with apples and spicy notes, and with an growing swell of burnt sugar, maple syrup, and candied peanuts. With water the sweetness spills over the edges of the glass, at once so young vibrant and expressive, with bigger bready notes, fuller fruit notes, pears, grapes and limes, and dollops of butterscotch.


Really delicious and I admit to being happily suprised. Not unlike the old Glenfiddich 8yo with a little extra bourbony blast... and it's only 3 months old! Yay for wee casks. Although I do now worry whether or not this will make it a full year without being overpowered by wood.

Its deep copper colour visibly shows how the cask has affected its contents. The rich sweet bourbony American oak nose and palate has taken hold of the new make spirit and made it into something new, something wonderful, something that as a father, I cannot wait to see what happens next.

Wee Whisky Week 1
Wee Whisky Month 1

Thursday, July 01, 2010

True North Strong and Free

Happy Canada Day/Dominion Day/le Jour de la Confederation!

The Queen is in Canada, Dr. Whisky is in Norway, the beer is in the fridge and the bbq is on.

But what to drink?
Hmmm... Creemore and a few fingers of Gibsons.