Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 29, 2014
My friend Dennis, and I had a small whisky tasting at my house this past Sunday where we sampled three interesting malt whiskies from Scotland. As we sampled each dram, I wrote up some tasting notes based upon our impressions and then we had some fun arguing about what we liked and disliked. The first whisky we sampled was Sheep Dip Malt Whisky, produced by the Spencerfield Spirit Company.
The Spencerfield Spirit Company was created by Alex Nicol, the former Marketing Director of Glenmorangie, and whisky aficionado who has held directorships with major spirits companies such as Whyte and Mackay, Beefeater Gin, and Laphroaig as well as with Scottish and Newcastle and Cadbury Schweppes. The company he formed is a family run business dedicated to an eclectic handful of whisky brands.
Their Flagship brand, Sheep Dip Malt Whisky is a vatting of malt whiskies crafted by Scotland’s only third generation Master Blender, Richard Paterson. It is comprised of sixteen separate Single Malt Whiskies chosen from all four of the traditional malt whisky regions of Scotland. These chosen whiskies range in age from between 8 and 21 years and they have all been married together in fresh (first-fill) American oak barrels to produce the Sheep Dip Malt.
Here is a link to my new review of this interesting Malt Whisky:
“… The initial nose brings to mind impressions of ready to cut grassy hay fields waving in the wind with a few spruce and poplar trees standing in the background. There is a gentle sweetness which grows as you sniff the glass, which as it builds, gave me indications of raisins and sugared dates …”
Included with this review is a nice cocktail suggestion which combines two high-end mixers from Q-brands with the Sheep Dip Malt Whisky, the Presbyterian Cocktail.
Note: You only get out of a mixed drink what you put into it. Better ingredients in the form of not only better mixers, but also better spirits definitely results in tastier cocktails!
Posted in Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Cocktails, Malt Whisky, Presbyterian Cocktail, Scotch Whisky, Sheep Dip, Whisky, Whsiky Review | Comments Off on Review: Sheep Dip Malt Whisky
Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 26, 2014
Just before the disruptions caused by flooding during the summer of 2013 in Southern Alberta, Highwood Distillers released a limited quantity of their new “Ninety” branded whiskies under their Century Distillers banner. The news of these whisky releases was unfortunately drowned out (quite literally) by the waters that engulfed Southern Alberta. If you followed the news regarding the aftermath of the flood (see story here) you will know that it took more than a few weeks for the company to bring itself back onto its feet. In fact, all of the bottled inventory in Highwood’s warehouse had to be destroyed due to potential contamination from the water that penetrated the distillery.
An unfortunate victim of all this disruption was those “Ninety” branded whiskies which all but disappeared from liquor store shelves as Highwood had to temporarily abandon production of this new brand in order to focus on re-establishing their other major brands across Canada. The good news is that the Ninety branded whiskies have been relaunched as both the Ninety 5 Year Old and the Ninety 20 Year Old have made a re-appearance in Alberta and British Columbia, and their first appearance in Ontario.
The subject of this review, is the Ninety (Premium cask Aged) 5 Year Old Whisky, which is produced from corn-based distillate which has been matured for 5 years in charred oak barrels and bottled at 90 proof or 45 % alcohol by volume.
Although I have previously reviewed the Ninety 5 Year Old Whisky based upon a pre-flood sample, this week I revisited a post-flood sample of the whisky. You may read the results of my efforts by clicking the following link to read the full review:
“… The initial breezes above glass reveal scents of freshly sanded oak, spicy rye, fresh cornstalks, and delicate touches of honey, butterscotch, vanilla and a light dab of corn syrup …”
For your entertainment, I have added one of my original recipes for you to try at the conclusion of my review, the Canadian Caribou.
Please enjoy both the new review and the suggested recipe!
Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: 5 Year Old, Canadian Whisky, Highwood Distillers, Ninety, Whisky, Whisky Review | Comments Off on Review: Ninety (Premium cask Aged) 5 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky
Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 23, 2014
Last April, J & G Grant launched the release of their new 60 Year Old Glenfarclas Single Malt Whisky with only 360 bottles available world-wide. According to George Grant, Glenfarclas’ Sales Director and 6th generation of the Grant family:
“At a time when more and more distilleries are going down the no age statement route for their super premium products, we are delighted to be able to release this magnificent 60-year-old Glenfarclas. My grandfather started laying down stocks for the future way back in the 50s, so it is thanks to his incredible foresight that we are able to bottle this today.I’m sure he would have been as impressed by it as I am.”
In describing his 60 Year Old whisky, George Grant tells us that the spirit was matured in a first fill sherry butt and has a very dark rich mahogany colour. George goes on to say:
“It is surprisingly vibrant with lots of dried fruits, demerara sugar and spice coming through on the nose as well as the rich, oaky tannins that one would expect from a whisky of this venerable age. The sherry influence really comes through on the palate, with rich treacle, bitter coffee and espresso notes all making an appearance. The finish is the longest I have ever experienced – 20 minutes later you will still be able to taste the subtle nuances of this incredible dram.”
Fortunately for those of us who live in Alberta, a few of these special bottles have made it into our marketplace and George Grant has arranged a very special tasting featuring not only the Glenfarclas 60 Year Old Whisky, but also 3 special Family Cask Whiskies each paired with decadent appetizers on the evening of November 3rd at 8:00PM.
Tickets are available for the November 3, 2014 Glenfarclas Rare Dram Masterclass via telephone or email from:
Willow Park Wine and Spirits
10801 Bonaventure Dr SE Calgary
Cost: $500.00 per ticket
I have been invited to the event, and if I can clear my schedule for that day, I will certainly do my best to attend!
Note: The Glenfarclas Distillery is located on the Recherlich Farm at Ballindalloch in the heart of Speyside. The Distillery was purchased by the Grant Family in 1865, and has remained in the control of the Grant Family for six generations up to the present day. In fact, Glenfarclas is one of only a few distilleries remaining in Scotland which is independently family owned and managed.
Posted in Howls, Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky | Tagged: 60 Year Old, George Grant, Glenfarclas, Rare Dram, Single Malt, Whisky, Willow Park | Comments Off on Rare Dram Masterclass Features Glenfarclas 60 Year Old
Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 16, 2014
Schenley Golden Wedding is a Canadian Whisky produced at the Black Velvet Distillery in Lethbridge, Alberta for Constellation Brands. The spirit is one of Constellation’s economy Canadian Whisky brands, and when I encounter the spirit in the local liquor stores it usually occupies the bottom shelf of the Canadian Whisky section of the store. Not only is it bottom shelf, the brand has such a low profile, that I can not even find it represented as a whisky brand on Constellation’s website. It is almost as if the company has forgotten it.
I have over the past few years received several requests from readers to review Golden Wedding, and after a sample came my way earlier this summer, I have finally found the time to fulfill this desire.
You may read my full review by clicking on the following link:
“… I notice the Golden Wedding has a light amber colour, and that the breezes above the glass contain a mixture of peppery rye spice, toffee, caramel and light wisps of corn syrup. There are also indications of fresh grain, sandalwood, chaff, vanilla, some intense honey and butterscotch …”
I hope you enjoy my latest review and the bar drink which accompanies it, the Canadian Cooler.
Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Bar drinks, Canadian Cooler, Canadian Whisky, Cocktails, Golden Wedding, Schenley, Whisky, Whisky Review | Comments Off on Schenley Golden Wedding Canadian Whisky
Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 25, 2014
Windsor Canadian is currently produced by Beam Suntory at the Alberta Distillers Limited (ADL) facility in Calgary Alberta. Beam Suntory gives the following description on their website information regarding this whisky,
“A light, delicately flavored whisky, Windsor® Canadian is Canada’s smoothest. Windsor is made from cereal grains grown near Calgary, Alberta, combined with the pure, clear glacial stream water of Western Canada and aged in the dry, mile-high Canadian Rocky Mountains. “
An interesting bit of history regarding Windsor Canadian is that the whisky was originally launched as Windsor Supreme in 1963 by the American firm, National Distillers. The brand quickly became so popular that this American firm purchased the ADL Distillery in order to secure a plentiful source of high quality 100 % rye grain whisky for bottling and blending. In 1987, Fortune Brands (Beam Global) also had an eye for quality 100 % rye grain whisky, and they in turn purchased both the Windsor brand and the ADL Distillery from National (source: Canadian Whisky the Portable Expert, Copyright 2012 – Davin De Kergoumeaux, McClelland & Stewart publishers).
Of course, if you follow the whisky news you will know that the Japanese spirits giant, Suntory, recently acquired Beam Global. I do not think that it is stretch to suggest that Calgary’s own, Alberta Distillers Limited was the diamond in the rough which Suntory was seeking to secure for themselves as ADL is currently the largest producer of 100 % rye grain whisky in the entire world, and in fact, one of the few remaining producers of high quality 100 % rye grain whisky.
You may read my full review of this typically ‘Canadian’ Whisky by clicking on the following review excerpt (link):
“… The initial nose is very typically ‘Canadian’ with firm butterscotch scents lying alongside a fruit-filled spicy rye. As I let the glass sit, some dusty ripened grain notes develop along with accompanying scents of straw and the chaff. There is a bit of dry grassiness reminiscent of timothy and foxtail and some zesty notes of orange and lemon peel. Rounding out the nose are a few bits of cinnamon and dark brown sugar …”
Please enjoy the review which includes a modern take on the classic Whiskey Crusta Cocktail, which I have called the Canadian Crusta.
Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Canadian Crusta, Canadian Whisky, Cocktails, Crusta, Whisky, Whisky Review, Windsor | Comments Off on Review: Windsor Canadian Whisky
Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 16, 2014
Masterson’s Straight Wheat Whiskey is distilled and aged in Canada, for a California company located in Sonoma, called 35 Maple Street. As a straight whiskey, the spirit must be barreled and aged in new American Oak; however this Masterson’s whiskey also holds the distinction of being perhaps the only Canadian whiskey which is distilled on a copper pot still from a mash of 100 % wheat grain. It is aged for 12 years, bottled at 50% alcohol by volume, and is apparently (like the rest of the Masterson’s line-up) named for the famous frontier lawman, William “Bat” Masterson.
You may read my full review of the 12 Year Old Wheat spirit by clicking the following review excerpt:
“… Mild butterscotch and toffee aromas mingle with the wood and spices, and subtle bits of dry fruit and orange peel drifting into the breezes for those who are patient enough to notice. As I let the glass sit, the oak builds up just a little giving us some hints of bitter sap, poplar wood and dark chocolate. I also notice very light baking spices with vanilla, cinnamon and hints coarse yellow/brown sugar …”
Please enjoy my review which includes my recipe suggestion, the Old-Fashioned Cocktail!
Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: 35 Maple Street, Canadain Whisky, Cocktails, Masterson's Whiskey, Old Fashioned Cocktail, Straight Wheat, Whisky, Whisky Review | Comments Off on Review: Masterson’s 12-Year-Old Straight Wheat Whiskey
Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 20, 2014
1878 Whiskey Cocktail with Maker’s Mark
Maker’s Mark is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky brand distilled in Loretto, Kentucky, and owned by Beam Global. Bill Samuels Sr. is credited with creating the first version of Maker’s Mark in 1954, and the folks at the Maker’s Mark Distillery have been producing the whiskey since 1958.
The process of producing the bourbon begins with pure limestone fed spring-water, yellow corn, red winter wheat, and natural malted barley (note the absence of rye grain which was replaced by red winter wheat in the mash bill). It continues with a unique milling, cooking, fermentation and small batch distillation process; and it ends with the spirit being aged in new oak barrels. Of course the final whisky is tested and tasted to make sure it is just right before being bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume.
You may read my full review by clicking on the following excerpt link:
“… As I nose the glass, I find the breezes are filled with dry oak and cedar scents with a bit of the ‘sappiness’ which I have come to expect from straight American whisky. The firm scents of wood grain and fresh sap are soon joined by orange peel, honeycomb and bits of maple and caramel. There are also indications of baking spices (vanilla cinnamon and cloves), dry grassy cigarette tobacco, and bits of almond …”
The recipe I have decided to showcase at the conclusion of the review is an old whiskey cocktail I found in Leo Engels 1878 book, American and Other Drinks. In his book, Leo simply calls the recipe a Whiskey Cocktail (for simplicity I call it the 1878 Whiskey Cocktail), and I suspect his recipe is close to the original version of what we today call, the Old Fashioned Cocktail.
Please enjoy the review everybody, and enjoy my cocktail suggestion!
Posted in American Whiskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: 1878 Whiskey Cocktail, American Whiskey, Beam Global, Cocktails, Maker's Mark, Whiskey, Whisky, Whisky Review | Comments Off on Review: Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky
Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 17, 2014
The heritage of Ballantine’s Scotch Whisky can be traced back to 1827 when George Ballantine set up a small grocery store in Edinburgh supplying a range of whiskies to his clients. In 1865, he opened a larger establishment in Glasgow where he concentrated on the wine and spirit trade and catered to a more upscale customer base which apparently included the Hindu Royal Family. It was at this time that Ballantine started the experimentation which led to the creation of his own whisky blends. By the time his son George Jr. took over the business, Ballantine’s was a growing concern and the family eventually sold the prosperous business to Barclay and McKinlay in 1919. As the business and the brand continued to grow, the brand attracted the attention of the Canadian firm, Hiram Walker Gooderham & Worts who acquired Ballantine’s in 1937. Growth continued especially in new markets in Europe. Then in 1988, the Company became part of the global beverage conglomerate Allied Domecq, and later (in 2005) was acquired by Pernod Ricard who own the brand today.
Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch Whisky is the flagship whisky of the Ballantine’s brand. It is blended from a mixture of malt and grain whiskies all of which are aged (as per Scottish Law) for a minimum of three years in oak barrels.
You may read my full review of the blended Scotch whisky by clicking on the following except:
“… The initial nose rising into the breezes above the glass have a firm honeyed butterscotch taint which is accented by heather and fine grain spices. I also detect light notes of raisins and cherry licorice which hints at a few sherry barrels which may have been utilized in the aging of at least some of the whisky. As I let the glass sit I notice fruity aromas of apple juice and canned peaches and apricots, as well as more grain-like scents which remind me of orange and lime zest and damp cigarette tobacco …”
Please enjoy the review and the recipe suggestion which follows, the Mamie Taylor Cocktail.
Posted in Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Ballantine's Fines, Blended Whisky, Cocktails, Mamie Taylor, Scotch Whisky, Whisky | Comments Off on Review: Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch Whisky
Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 3, 2014
The folks at MCBSW Sales in Calgary Alberta have recently expanded their Chinook Whisky line-up to include two new Signature Whiskies, the previously reviewed Chinook Signature Rye Whisky (click on the link to read the review) and a new ‘white whisky’, which is the subject of this review, the Limited Edition Chinook Signature White Whisky.
I was told by the agent responsible for the brand here in Alberta that both Chinook Signature whiskies are produced and aged in Southern Alberta from Western Canadian Prairie grain. The Signature White in addition to being aged for the minimum 3 years required by Canadian Law is additionally filtered clear to provide a mild flavoured whisky suitable as an alternate to vodka for mixing quality cocktails. Interestingly, the words “Canadian Whisky” do not appear anywhere on the label of the bottle I received. Whether this was done intentionally or whether this was an oversight is not known; however this does leave the door open for the brand owners to move production of the whisky south of the border to their own distillery in Wisconsin at some point in the future.
I was provided a bottle of the Chinook Signature White Whisky by the Alberta agent for MCBSW Sales for the purpose of this review on my website.
You may click on the following excerpt link to read my full review:
“… The aromas in the breezes above the glass are very subtle, and it would be easy to mistake this whisky for a white rum rather than a grain based spirit. I sense a mellow butterscotch scent which carries hints of honey and cotton candy, and light influences of sandalwood, orange peel zest and vanilla. There are also a few floral tones in the air which remind me of heather and lilac, and some vague hints of mint and licorice …”
At the conclusion of my review I added two nice recipes which I felt highlighted the great mixing potential of the Chinook Signature White Whisky, the White Whisky Daiquiri (pictured left), and the White Whisky Mojito.
Please enjoy my review and my recipe suggestions!
Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Canadian Whisky, Chinook Signature White Whisky, Chinook Whisky, MCBSW Sales, Whisky, Whisky Review, White Whisky | 2 Comments »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 29, 2014
The Tomatin Distillery is located in the Monadhliath Mountains near Inverness, the capital of the Highlands of Scotland. The Distillery was established in 1897. (For those who do not know, the term “established in 1897″ is a code term which represents an acknowledgement by the distillery that the company began to legally pay taxes on the spirits it produced in that year. When the Distillery actually began to produces spirits is not acknowledged.) Because of its location in the Monadhliath Mountains, Tomatin is one of the highest distilleries (elevation wise) in Scotland at 315 metres above sea level. In 1985 as the Distillery was expanded and was at that time renamed, The Tomatin Distillery Co Ltd..
The company now operates 12 stills, in a process which perhaps more closely resembles a large-scale industrial factory rather than a typical Single Malt Distillery. This is because the distillery has always been a large-scale producer of whisky for Scotland’s major blends. However, Tomatin has recently began to focus their efforts on also producing their own Single Malt Whisky as well as establishing their own brand identity.
Blood and Sand
The Tomatin 12 Year Old (Single Malt) is matured in what the company calls ‘traditional’ oak casks. However for the last 6 to 9 months of its aging life the whisky is moved to Oloroso Sherry Casks. You may read my full review which includes a nice recipe suggestion, Blood and Sand, by clicking the following excerpt link:
“… The delivery shows more wood and baking spice than the nose implied with pleasant flavours of oak sap combining with vanilla, cinnamon and hints of clove. The sherried fruit is obvious as well demonstrated by flavours of green grape accented by raisins and figs. Although the whisky is sherried, the Oloroso influence comes across as a firm flavour accent rather than as a sherry bomb. …”
Please enjoy the review!
Posted in Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Blood and Sand, Cocktails, Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Tomatin, Whisky, Whisky Review | Comments Off on Review: Tomatin 12 Year Old (Single Malt)