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
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
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
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
Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 1, 2014
Angel’s Envy was founded by Lincoln Henderson (a former Brown-Forman Master Distiller) and his son Wesley in 2010. Although the company now has the facilities in place to produce their own whiskey, Lincoln and Wesley have (since opening in 2010) sourced their whiskey from another (undisclosed) distillery such that they would have finished whiskey to sell immediately.
According to Wes, when the company began to contemplate their Rum Finished Whiskey, they began by sampling over one hundred rums to find the right flavour complement for their bold style of rye whiskey. They also compared six different blends of rye which were eventually narrowed down to just one, a 95 % Rye Whiskey which (according to my emails with the distillery) was aged for 7 to 8 years in new charred American oak barrels. They chose to finish this Rye Whiskey for 18 months in ex-Plantation XO Rum Barrels.
In case you did not know, these Plantation barrels began their life as French Cognac barrels which were then were used as the finishing barrels for Plantation’s fantastic XO Anniversary Rum (See my review for Plantation XO 20th Anniversary Rum here). Thus these finishing barrels contained not only the compliment of a fantastic rum within their oak fibres, they also may have contained hints of cognac as well. The finished whiskey is bottled at 50 % alcohol by volume.
Note: Angel’s Envy is a craft producer who blends their whiskey in small batches. The Whisky is not available in Canada; however, fortunately for me, I was given a sample bottle by the good folks at UNWINED – Fine Wine, Spirits and Ales in St. Albert a few weeks ago when I served as the guest host for their El Dorado Rum Tasting (thanks for your hospitality guys).
You may read my full review of this wonderful whiskey by clicking on the following excerpt link:
“… The whiskey is a maple and spice delight with a full flavour that rocks the palate with layers of rye and wood spice coupled with the candied sweetness of maple and brown sugar. Hot wood spices full of cinnamon and clove heat the palate while sweet maple and dark brown sugar have their way with my taste buds. Vanilla and oodles rye spice crash the party joined by port dipped cigars and old-fashioned home-made cinnamon buns stuffed with walnuts and pecans …”
Please enjoy this review of a spectacular new Rye Whiskey!
Posted in American Whiskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: American Whiskey, Angel's Envy, Rum Finished, Whisk(e)y Review, Whiskey | Comments Off
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
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
Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 11, 2014
Marshall’s Bourbon Whiskey is produced in Bardstown, Kentucky for the Beveland Liquor Company. In case you did not know, Beveland is located in northern Spain, near the French border, and they are (as far as I can reasonably tell from their website) a small to medium-sized wine and spirits company which sells a variety of distilled spirits into the European market.
Northern Mint Julep
I am not really sure how I came upon this particular sample bottle. It seems to have appeared unannounced upon my review shelf in my tasting room. I tried to locate its source; however, I could not even locate a local distributor for the brand. I suspect a friend or relative came upon the bottle in their travels, and slipped it upon my review shelf with the other bourbon whiskeys as an unexpected treat for me. This should be a fun review as I have no idea what to expect from a Bourbon which I could find hardly a trace of on the internet.
You may read my full review here:
“… The initial aroma from the glass revealed spicy oak sap and woody cedar scents pushed forward by a rather firm alcohol astringency. Light butterscotch aromas and bits of vanilla pushed through this astringency as did a sort of tobacco-like grassiness. There is some spicy citrus peel in the air as well us some nutty almond …”
I hope you enjoy this review which includes a nice summertime deck drink, the Northern Mint Julep.
Posted in American Whiskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: American Whiskey, Bourbon, Bourbon Review, Cocktails, Marshall's, Northern Mint Julep, Whisk(e)y Review, Whiskey | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 6, 2014
A Brass Bonanza served with Blanton’s Gold Edition
Blanton’s is a bourbon whiskey brand created by Sazerac and launched in 1984. The brand is named for Albert B. Blanton who worked at the Buffalo Trace Distillery for more than 50 years, and who apparently spent much of his time at the distillery promoting the traditions of handcrafted bourbon. Blanton’s claims to be the first modern whiskey designed and sold as a single barrel bourbon, and indeed the original brand name for the brand was “Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon”.
Blanton’s Gold Edition is produced from a mash bill of corn, rye, and malted barley which is distilled to 140 proof and barreled at 125 proof. Each bottle of Blanton’s Gold Edition is bottled from a single barrel (brought to 103 proof) after the whiskey has been chill filtered. Because even barrels which lie side by side in an aging warehouse (even though they may have exactly the same batch of distillate) will almost certainly age differently, there will be much potential for flavour variation between particular bottles of this Blanton’s bourbon. However, the general character of the whiskey should remain the same between bottlings as the master blender is selecting only those barrels which meet the particular flavour profile he is aiming for.
You may read my full review by clicking the following link excerpt:
“… The nose is very nice with honey, sap and wood spice rising into the breezes alongside subtle notes of Christmas cake (chocolate, raisins, dates and walnuts). There is a bit of an alcohol push along with a few grassy notes and some youthful astringency. As I let the glass sit I notice baking spices building (vanilla, dark brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg) in the air along with some baked apples and canned pears. There are also some nice sweet and spicy notes of pipe tobacco …”
Included in the review is a nice bar drink which mixed the Blanton’s Gold Edition with a few drops of bitters and a splash of ginger-ale. I called the resulting cocktail, the Brass Bonanza.
Please enjoy the review and the provided mixed drink recipe!
Posted in American Whiskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Blanton's Gold Edition, Bourbon, Brass Bonanza, Cocktails, Review, Sazerac, Whisk(e)y Review, Whiskey | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 29, 2014
Last, year Highwood Distillers was severely impacted by a massive flash flood which devastated Southern Alberta on June 20th, 2013. The folks working at the distillery had only minutes of warning before the flood hit, and the severity of the event was such that some distillery staff had to be rescued from the tops of their cars by helicopter. If you followed the news regarding the aftermath of the flood (see my story here) you will know that it took more than a few weeks for the company to bring itself back onto its feet. Fortunately for those of us who love Canadian whisky, the distillery picked up the pieces and literally came roaring back to life. In fact, this past Christmas when my tasting panel and I blind-tasted and judged over 45 of the best Canadian Whiskies, Highwood Distillers placed more bottlings in the top 25 than any other Canadian Distillery (see the Top 25 list here).
This should not be considered a recent success, as Highwood has for years now been producing some of the most unique (and under-appreciated) whisky in Canada. In fact, in 2010, they broke new ground, (and a few sales records too), when they introduced their premium clear cocktail whisky, White Owl Whisky (see review here). To say this product was s success is a vast understatement, as the only problem that surfaced with respect to the White Owl Whisky was that Highwood could not make it fast enough to satisfy the demand across Canada. In 2012, the distillery extended the White Owl brand with White Owl Spiced Whisky (see review here), and this year they extended the brand once more with their White Owl Ginger Lime Whisky. Like the previous spirits which have carried the White Owl brand, this is a cocktail whisky carrying at its heart, Highwood’s famous clear White Owl Whisky, but in this case, it is enhanced with zesty lime and ginger flavours.
You may read my full review of the White Owl Ginger and Lime Whisky here:
“… when you bring the glass to your nose you cannot mistake the mild butterscotch, sandalwood and rye notes which rise into the breezes telling you that the base of this flavoured spirit is a gentle rye whisky. As the glass breathes, spicy notes of ginger begin to increase in strength, and building with them is the unmistakable zesty, but retrained note of lime and citrus peel …”
This is a cocktail whisky, and so of course I had to try a few mixed drink recipes during the review process. At the conclusion of the review I decided to feature a recipe of my creation, Cucumber Delight.
Please enjoy the review and the cocktail recipe provided. :)
Posted in Canadian Whisky, Flavoured Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Canadian Whisky, Canadian Whisky Re, Cocktails, Cucumber Delight, Ginger and lime, Highwood Distillers, Rye Whisky, White Owl Whisky | Comments Off