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Archive for the ‘Scotch Whisky’ Category

Review: Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 17, 2014

ballantine-finestThe 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.

Mamie Taylor

Mamie Taylor

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:

Review: Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch Whisky

“… 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.

Slainte’

Posted in Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Tomatin 12 Year Old (Single Malt)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 29, 2014

tomatin12The 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

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:

Review: Tomatin 12 Year Old (Single Malt)

“… 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!

Slainte!

Posted in Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: The Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 10, 2014

Balvenie 12 SAM_1113The Balvenie Distillery is located at Dufftown which is of course, pretty much situated in the heart of the Speyside region of Scotland. This is a Single Malt Distillery; but one which holds the distinction of being the only such distillery where every part of the process of making whisky takes place right at the distillery. The distillery grows and malts its own barley (about 10 % of its total requirement); it has its own cooperage; and it has its own copper-smith. Owned by William Grant and Sons, the distillery is one of the top 10 producers (by volume) of Scottish Single Malt Whisky.

The Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel is one of the company’s most recent offerings to arrive in Canada, and it replaces The Balvenie 15 Year Old Single Barrel whose stocks have been dwindling such that this expression is now quite hard to find (at least where I live). The 12 Year Old (like the 15 Year Old before it) is a true Single Barrel Whisky as each bottle is drawn from a single first-fill Bourbon cask selected by The Balvenie Malt Master, David Stewart. These casks were chosen to represent a consistent Balvenie character; however, each barrel will have its own unique character, and therefore each bottling from each unique barrel will be slightly different from each other. (And yes, this whisky spent its entire 12 year aging life in one single first-fill barrel.)

You may read my full review here:

Review: The Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel

“… The breezes above the glass indicate that the whisky has a firm oak character as those breezes are filled with a firm presence of clean oak spice. This woody spiciness is accented (quite nicely) with vanilla, sawgrass and almond scents. As the glass breathes, the whisky breezes become more complex bringing forward additional hints of butterscotch, honey and some sweet beer-like malt …”

Note: Only 300 cases of this limited edition single malt are available for purchase at LCBO stores across Ontario starting February 2014. There were previously 300 cases released for purchase in Alberta in December 2013.

Posted in Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Review: Glenfiddich 12 Year Old Single Malt

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 6, 2014

Glenfiddich_8321_Original.tifGlenfiddich is credited by most whisky writers as being the distillery which brought Single Malt Scotch Whisky into prominence after World War II. According to Michael Jackson in his wonderful publication, Scotland and its Whiskies (pages 101-103, Copyright Duncan Baird Publishers, 2001), the independent operators of the distillery began to produce and sell their whisky with an emphasis on the Single Malt expression rather than depending upon selling their whisky to blenders. The result of this foresight is that Glennfiddich is now the most popular (by sales) producer of Single Malt whisky with a market share which accounts for over 30 % of world-wide sales. The flagship whisky of the brand is their 12 Year Old Glenfiddich Single Malt Whisky.

SAM_1027 Mamie Taylor

Mamie Taylor Cocktail

The 12-year-old expression is a Single Malt Whisky produced from a blend of stocks which were aged in American bourbon and Spanish Sherry oak barrels. I received a sample bottle of the Glenfiddich 12 Year Old just prior to Christmas, and I decided to share the results of my examination here on my website.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Glenfiddich 12 Year Old Single Malt

“… As the glass breathes I sense impressions of some lowland sawgrass, a few crushed gooseberries, and fruit-like hints of spicy raisin as well as sliced green apples and pears. Over time the air above the glass develops more of an herbal quality with indications of lemon balm and heather …”

Please enjoy my review which includes a nice recipe recommendation, the Mamie Taylor Cocktail!

Slainte’

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Important Note: In June of 2013, Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch announced that $2.00 from every bottle sold of the older Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Solera Whisky in Canada would be donated to benefit Canadian Forces Members as part of their continued support for Wounded Warriors Canada. This program is ongoing and I have been informed that as of the end of 2013, $161,616 have been raised for Wounded Warriors Canada through these $2.00 donations. Founded in 2006, Wounded Warriors Canada is a non-profit organization that helps Canadian Forces Members (be they full-time members or reservists) who have been wounded or injured in their service to Canada.

Posted in Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Ron Burgundy “Great Odin’s Raven” Special Reserve

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 2, 2014

Ron BurgundyRon Burgundy “Great Odin’s Raven” Special Reserve is a result of a collaborative effort between Paramount Studios and Celebrity Cellars International (CCI). The aim of the project was to create a blended scotch to capitalize on the ‘celebrity status’ of Ron Burgundy, the Scotch-loving main character of Paramount Studio’s original Anchorman movie, and to launch the Ron Burgundy Scotch coinciding with the release of Anchorman 2, The Legend Continues.

According to Scott Roddick and Jeff Harder (Managing Partners of CCI), one of the major criteria for both parties (Paramount and Celebrity Cellars) going forward was to create a ‘good’ blended Scotch whisky which would be well received by both fans of the Anchorman character, Ron Burgundy, as well as by whisky enthusiasts. Neither side wanted the spirit to become merely a “souvenir brand”. To that end the, whisky was crafted and bottled in Scotland by Old St. Andrews Distillery, featuring a blend of grain and mature malt whiskies from the Speyside, Highlands, and Islay regions of Scotland. The whisky is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume and was released (as planned) in North America on December 1, 2013.

Great Odin's Raven's Presbyterian Cocktail

Great Odin’s Raven’s Presbyterian Cocktail

The early returns are in, and they are quite positive. Since the December 1st release, over 14,000 cases of Ron Burgundy Scotch have been sold in North America. Building upon that success, the Ron Burgundy Whisky was recently launched in the UK and Australia.

I was provided a sample bottle by the folks at Celebrity Cellars, and you may read my full review by clicking on the following excerpt:

Review: Ron Burgundy “Great Odin’s Raven” Special Reserve

“… The initial scents and smells from the glass are rather interesting. They bring a combination of  wood spices; some sweet honey and butterscotch; bits of heather and saw grass; and a mild dollop of boggy peat into the breezes above the glass …”

Please enjoy the review which includes my suggested cocktail, Great Odin’s Raven’s Presbyterian Cocktail!

Slainte’!

Posted in Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Auchentoshan 1999 Bordeaux Cask

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 20, 2014

Auchentoshan Bordeaux1999The Auchentoshan Distillery is somewhat of an anomaly amongst Scottish Distillers. It is the only Scottish Distillery that triple distills their entire core range of whisky on three separate stills. Triple distillation is common amongst Irish distillers, but very uncommon for a distillery producing Single Malt Whisky. The result of this triple distillation is a more laid back easy-going style of whisky which perhaps carries more floral elements through to the new make spirit; but which also may be a little less robust in character than traditional single malts. As such, the Auchentoshan Whisky is considered by some to be a more approachable single malt whisky with a wider range of appeal than a heavier malt whisky.

The Auchentoshan 11 Year Old Bordeaux Cask Single Malt Whisky is part of the Auchentoshan Distillery’s Freedom of Expressions Limited Edition Range of Single Malts. The whisky is (of course) a triple distilled Single Malt which has been produced from aged stocks  which were barreled in French Oak (Bordeaux Casks) for 11 years and bottled at 58 % alcohol by volume.

SAM_1029 Black Donald

Black Donald

You may read my full review here:

Review: Auchentoshan 1999 Bordeaux Cask

“… As the glass breathes I begin to detect hints of the Bordeaux wine finish. Some Turkish Delight candy bar and red licorice seem to have woven themselves into the breezes with both willow bushes and fresh-cut poplar wood also finding their way into my consciousness. Hints of vanilla, and some light nutty almond aromas round out the nose which is pleasant …”

For your enjoyment I have included a nice tall Scotch Whisky cocktail (Black Donald) which tastes great when mixed with the high-octane goodness of the Auchentoshan 1999 Bordeaux Cask.

Slainte’

 

Posted in Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Reviews of two Grouses (Famous and Black)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 15, 2014

Famouse grouseBlack GrouseThe Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky has a history in Scotland reaching back in time to 1896 when Wine Merchants, Matthew Gloag and Son, first blended their Grouse Whisky. Over the next nine years, the whisky became so popular that Matthew Gloag decided to add the word ‘famous’ to the name in 1905. Over the next century it would become one of the most popular brands of whisky in Scotland. Although the home of famous Grouse is the Glenturret Distillery, according to The Famous Grouse Website, the Famous Grouse Whisky is a blend which contains premium single malts such as The Macallan and Highland Park.

The Black Grouse is an offshoot of its popular cousin which begins where The Famous Grouse ends. The whisky is the result of a further blending of the Famous Grouse Whisky with Islay Malt Whiskies. The resulting whisky has a peated flavour profile with a reportedly dark smoky character.

It has been about four years since I examined each of these blended whiskies, and recently I had a chance to sample each blend side by side as I was gifted a bottle of each this past Christmas. I took advantage of this opportunity to revisit each of my previous reviews tweaking the tasting notes and the scores (neither changed significantly).

Here are the links to each of the revised reviews:

Review: The Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky

Review: The Black Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky

Note: The astute reader will notice that the suggested cocktails for each have been tweaked as well!

 

Posted in Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Chivas Regal 12 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 13, 2014

chivasregalChivas Brothers were established at the turn of the 19th century (1801) as a grocery store in Aberdeen, Scotland. The company gained a strong reputation for luxury goods, and as a result they began (in the 1850′s) to produce a premium blended scotch whisky to meet a growing demand from their customers for a more refined whisky than was available at that time. Chivas Brothers cemented their reputation for producing quality whisky, and even today they are considered by many to be the standard-bearer for premium blended Scotch whisky. The company is currently owned by Pernod Ricard, and the home of their blended whisky brand, Chivas Regal, is the Strathisla Distillery (founded in 1786) located at Keith, Moray in the Speyside whisky producing region of  Scotland.

SAM_1022 Blood and Sand

Blood and Sand

Chivas Regal 12 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky is Chivas Brothers’ flagship whisky. The blend includes both grain and Single Malt Whiskies which have all been aged a minimum of 12 years. Their line-up also includes 18 and 25-year-old blended whisky expressions. Although the Company is owned by Pernod Ricard, in Canada the Chivas Brand is distributed by Corby.

You may read my full review here:

Review: Chivas Regal 12 Year Old

“… the initial aroma is very pleasant with notes of butterscotch entwined with vanilla and herbal notes of lemon grass and heather. As the glass breathes, I begin to notice more woody tones with scents of willow, and sandalwood mixed in. A bit of sweet maltiness comes through as well as just a small dab of grainy spice …”

For your enjoyment I have included a classic Scotch Whisky cocktail (Blood and Sand) which tastes absolutely great with the Chivas Regal.

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: The Macallan Ruby (Single Malt Whisky)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 18, 2014

Macallan 1824 RubyThe Macallan Distillers Ltd is a single malt Scotch whisky producer (distillery) which is situated near Easter Elchies House, at Craigellachie, in the Speyside region of Scotland. The brand and distillery are owned by the Edrington Group which purchased them from Highland Distillers in 1999.

Recently the brand launched a new line of Single Malt Whisky which they call, The Macallan 1824 Series. Each whisky in the 1824 Series is 100 % Sherry Cask whisky, and each whisky within the range draws its name from the colour of the whisky inside the bottle as the series moves up the ladder from Gold to Amber, Sienna, and finally to Ruby in that order. These whiskies carry no age statement. Instead, the consumer is asked to draw a parallel between the colour of the whisky in the bottle and its age, complexity, and quality. Because these whiskies are naturally coloured by the casks from which they are drawn, the implication is that the richer darker whiskies have aged longer, and/or have had more of their blend drawn from the higher quality Sherry oak casks.

The subject of this review is The Macallan Ruby (Single Malt Whisky), which is currently the darkest production whisky in the series. The Ruby is bottled at 43 % alcohol by volume, and all of this whisky was matured exclusively in European oak sherry casks (the labeling on the bottle tells me these sherry casks are all from Jerez, Spain).

You may read my full review of the Macallan Ruby by clicking on the following link and excerpt:

Review: The Macallan Ruby (Single Malt Whisky)

“… The entry into the mouth brought somewhat of an unexpected rush of oak and spice forward as the whisky carried even more oak spice across the palate than what the nose implied. The complexity is top-notch as I tasted bittersweet dark chocolate, caramel toffee, raisin filled fruit cake, canned apricots, and zesty orange peel all mingling within that spicy rush of oak sap …”

Please enjoy my review which represents my first look at the new Macallan 1824 Series. The 1824 series seems to represent a change in focus for The Macallan where they are traveling down a path where the quality of the oak is placed ahead of the age statement. It is the correct path to take in making quality whisky; but only time will tell if the marketing of the age statement has become an unstoppable monster that will destroy good intentions.

Slanite’!

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Note: I received my sample bottle for this review from the Beam Global Team here in Alberta. Beam Global is currently responsible for the distribution and marketing of The Macallan (and other Edrington Group spirits) in Western Canada.

Posted in Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Morrison Bowmore’s Global Master of Malts to visit Edmonton

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 4, 2014

Photo Courtesy Morrison Bowmore

Photo Courtesy Morrison Bowmore

Vines Welcomes Morrison Bowmore’s Global Master of Malts – Iain MaCallum

With over 20 years experience at Morrison Bowmore Distillers (MBD), first as a Laboratory Technician Trainee, then as Distillery Manager at Auchentoshan, Bowmore and Glen Garioch, and finally as Senior Blender. Iain MaCallum has now joined the sales and Marketing team as Global Master of Malts, a world-wide educational role for Morrison Bowmore.

Vines Riverbend Wine Merchants is proud to provide a unique opportunity to welcome Iain McCallum and to have him share a few drams from MBD’s three great Scottish distilleries (Auchentoshan, Bowmore and Glen Garioch), considered three of the most recognized names in Single Malt Whisky.

Where: Vines – Riverbend Wine Merchants (2331 Rabbit Hill Rd NW, Edmonton)
When:  Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at  7:00 PM
Price:  $36.99 prepaid

Limited Seating Available

Reserve your seat by contacting:

Vines – Riverbend Wine Merchants
Telephone: 434-9444
Email: info@vineswinemerchants.com

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Posted in Festivals and Events, Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

 
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