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Posts Tagged ‘Scotch Whisky’

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: Tomatin Legacy

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 12, 2014

Tomatin Crusta SAM_1133The 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.

The Tomatin Legacy is the companies introductory (some would say flagship) Single Malt, and is produced from a whisky aged in a combination of ex-Bourbon barrels and Virgin Oak casks. This Single Malt Whisky carries no age statement, as the whisky is blended to a specific taste profile rather than to be a specific age statement. The use of virgin oak to age some of the whisky is a rather novel idea for a Scottish producer, but one which I heartily endorse.

Here is an excerpt (and link) to my full review of this surprisingly good whisky:

Review: Tomatin Legacy

“… The initial nose is very pleasant with a combination of clean oak spice, almond accents and hints of green grapes and green apples. There is also a meringue-like sweetness which rises up into the air with a gentle sweep of vanilla around it. As the glass breathes the oak spices gains momentum and I soon also receive impressions of willow trees and aspen with a touch of piny goodness in the mix somewhere as well. I seem to also sense springtime aromas of fresh sweet grass, and some floral lemon blossoms …”

As you can see from my photo to the left, I included a wonderful cocktail suggestion with the review, the Single Malt Crusta.

Please enjoy the review and the stunning cocktail!

Posted in 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: 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

Edmonton Whisky Festival: The Macallan Masterclass with Brand Ambassador – Dan Volway

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 8, 2014

VolwayEdmonton Whisky Festival

The Macallan Masterclass with Brand Ambassador – Dan Volway

Where: Edmonton Delta South Hotel

When: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 (6:30 PM – 7:30 PM)

Ticket Price: $25.00 each

The 2014 Edmonton Whisky Festival is proud to welcome, Dan Volway, trained Sommelier and former Instructor with the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers at Niagara and George Brown College.

For years Dan had imbibed on fine wines until a longtime friend introduced him to scotch whisky and effectively converted his grape biased palette to appreciate the nuances of fine hand-­crafted scotch. As his repertoire expanded, Dan fell madly in love with The Macallan, Highland Park and Famous Grouse – brands known across the globe for their heritage, quality and unrivaled approach to whisky making. When the opportunity arose to represent his favourite scotch portfolio in Western Canada, Dan jumped at the chance and was willing to move across the country from Toronto to Vancouver to fulfill his duties as Brand Ambassador.

Dan’s role is to connect with like-­‐minded individuals, groups and establishments from the Prairies to the Pacific, exposing the virtues of the whiskies he’s been charged to represent. His schedule is filled with meetings and events held by various whisky appreciation groups, where he works on building relationships and cultivating connoisseurs who share the very same passion for whisky that attracted him to the business. Dan is also responsible for connecting his brand with people in the spirit trade with staff from some of the country’s top bars and prestigious restaurants all the way to swanky speakeasies and stalwart pubs.

If you are already have tickets to the Edmonton Whisky Festival, why not add a voluptuary adventure exploring The Macallan Single Malt Whisky with Brand Ambassador Dan Volway!

“It’s a real privilege to be in a position to share my knowledge and passion for Scotch whisky with aspiring scotch enthusiasts and experts, alike,”  Dan says. “If I can help to bring a special epicurean experience to someone with humour, warmth and insight, then I feel as though I’ve done my job.”

For more information please contact:

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

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Tickets are now available from Vines or through the new website: (http://edmontonwhiskyfestival.ca/)

Posted in Festivals and Events | 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

The Year in Whisky (2013 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 22, 2013

RH-winner2013I tasted a lot of great whisky this year from all over the world, and I noticed a few trends which deserve noting. Whisky is growing in popularity throughout the world, and this is having consequences in both the variety of whisky available to the consumer, and the quality of the whisky available to the consumer. In terms of variety, things have never been better as I can find whiskies on the store shelves from places I would never have imagined a few years ago. The number of brands available from India and Japan keep growing, and as well brands from places like New Zealand, England, Wales, and Australia are also surfacing in my local liquor stores. A stronger selection of brands available to the consumer can only be good news; and hopefully consumers (and whisky critics) can put their prejudices aside and give these brands the chance they deserve.

However the flip side of this world-wide popularity of whisky is a disturbing reluctance from some of the major players to maintain their age statements. The simple fact is that there is just not enough aged whisky stocks to maintain the present brands due to the growing world-wide popularity of the spirit. Of course the marketing hype proclaims the spirits are as good as ever, but I guess I question the veracity of those statements. Time will tell, and thankfully there are still many brands maintaining their standards and many more great whiskies for me to discover.

It is time for my to make my yearly proclamations regarding the best whiskies which I have personally tasted in the year which is 2013. As is the case each year, all of my Rum Howler Awards are based upon side by side tastings within each category of spirit. I taste the spirit neat, and I also mix a few cocktails with each spirit. All spirit samples which I receive to review on my website are automatically considered for my awards. I do my review, and then I set aside the remainder of the spirit for the end of the year judging. I also receive additional industry samples specifically for these awards. My side by side tastings are completed, and it is time for me to reveal the recipients of my 2013 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Whisky.

These Awards are for the best Whisky Spirits I encountered in the year 2013!

The 2013 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Whisky

Posted in Awards, Extras, Whisk(e)y | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

 
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