Old Pulteney 21 Year Old 17 June 2013

Old Pulteney 21Yo has been on my wish list of whiskies to taste since the early days of PWS Upper Canada.  Having been afforded the privilege of  presenting a range 4 bottle ($150+) of Scotch, I decided that it was time to pick up a bottle. I am happy to report that it did not disappoint.  Part of my interest in this bottle stemmed from the review that Jim Murray gave this bottle in 2012.  If Jim gives it the highest score of any whisky he has ever tasted, then I am definitely interested.  I can say that I have had the very odd one that Jim and I don’t agree on, but I think he nailed this one.  While admittedly I am unable to taste all of what Jim describes in his tasting notes, I certainly get the citrus, spice, and licorice. With an incredibly long finish, I find myself chewing on its big flavour minutes later.  I find that its final notes remind me of pipe tobacco.  In very limited supply, there are only about 15 bottle left within the LCBO. Although it is likely worth of the $230 per bottle price tag, this isn’t one that I am able to rush out to purchase for my own collection.  I do; however, certainly look forward to tasting it again one day. This expression was also shared by the Brothers of PWS Victoria in October of 2012.

Old Pulteney is the northern most distillery on the mainland of Scotland.  Located in the town of Wick the distillery started operations in 1826.  The distillery website features at great video which share the story of Wick.




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The Balvenie Signature Aged 12 Years – 13 June 2013

While I was quickly researching this, I was surprised to learn that this expression is now retired, as of today at the LCBO there are 946 bottles still left at the LCBO, given it was part of their core range.
( A little further back in time) Six years after creating Glenfiddich (1886), William Grant converted neighbouring Balvenie Castle into a distillery in order to meet the demands of blenders for “Glenlivet-style” malt (Glenlivet had been damaged by a fire and was closed at the time). Balvenie didn’t start marketing single malts until 1973, and despite its image as a “boutique” distillery, it produces 1.25 million gallons of whisky a year and has quite a significant place in the single malt scotch market. It also employs its own cooperage and coppersmith.

The Balvenie Signature Aged 12 Years is a classic marriage of The Balvenie matured in the three most traditional cask types, first fill bourbon, refill bourbon and finally sherry (Oloroso sherry butts). Produced in small, numbered batches (the bottle tonight comes from Batch #5, presumably the final batch), each cask used is hand selected by Malt Master David Stewart. This is to ensure he achieves Signature’s unique character of honey, spice and subtle oak and each batch is allowed time to harmonise in a traditional marrying tun. (A process in which blended whisky is left in large containers after blending, but before bottling.)

The colour is a shimmering gold-amber.

On the nose: rich and complex notes with honey, citrus fruits, cloves and other baking spices, vanilla and oak. Some might even say rather malty. Subtle hints of orange marmalade, and hint of pipe tobacco are also present.

The palate includes some of the orange/citrus notes, with a little more caramel and mint. The influence of the sherry cask comes through with the fruitiness A spiciness of cinnamon and nutmeg and a subtle oakiness have developed with time. A full, syrupy mouth feel!
The finish is warm and lingering; well-balanced.

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The Balvenie 21 Year PortWood – May 21, 2013

The Balvenie Distillery – nurtures a high level of craftsmanship. Grows its own barley, malts in its own traditional malt floorings, employs coopers to tend the casks and a coppersmith to maintain the stills.

An additional period of maturation in 30 year-old Port pipes has given this aged Balvenie an extra level of depth and concentration of flavour, adding potent fruit and smoke notes to the silky-smooth full-bodied palate. Rich, indulgent, after-dinner Speyside at it’s best.

All members of our Expression in attendance loved this whisky!

Date Tasted: May 21, 2013
Whisky / Whiskey: The Balvenie
Expression: 21 Year – Port Wood
Distiller: The Balvenie Distillery
Type: Scotch
Country / Region: Scotland / Speyside
Bottling Size: 700 ml
ABV: 47.6%
Cost (Cdn): $200.00

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Tasting: White Owl

I had the privilege of hosting the Fort Henry expression of the PWS in Feb/13. This would be my first foray into hosting a PWS gathering.  I found my bottle choice on the LCBO website, having somewhat of an attraction to owls, the striking features of the bottle label caught my attention. Perhaps not the most logical or well researched tact for choosing a whisky but I had to start somewhere. There is a second unique attribute of White Owl, which piqued my curiosity, it is clear, i.e. without colour.

Notes from the Bottle: Bottled by Highwood Distillers, formerly known as Sunnyvale Distillers, located in Alberta. This offering was brought to the market as an alternative to gin or vodka in mixed drinks.

Notes from the Highwood Distillers

Colour: Clear

Nose: The first impression is of Sprite™ or citrus cooler, followed by hints of grain, cereal and mash, limes and lemons, mild spirit, and a hint of anise. There’s a kind of creamy fruitiness to it.

Taste: Anise, citric flavours, especially lime and a slight bitterness. Hot cayenne & hot spices that linger a long time. Hints of oak tannins and cereal grain.

Finish: Medium-long, citric, and fading out on pepper

Notes from the tasting: Most attendees agreed that as a sipping whisky, White Owl comes up a little short. All in attendance agreed that they would certainly entertain the opportunity to re-try White Owl as a substitute for gin, vodka or even rum in a mixed drink.

Notes from the meeting: Two new members were sworn in, Denis and Ryan.

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Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve – 30 Apr 13

Forty Creek Confederation Oak reserve is the fourth special release from Whisky maker John Hall’s Kittling Ridge Distillery. At 16,800 bottles, this is also Hall’s largest special release.  Hall produces Confederation Oak Reserve with his traditional Forty creek “Meritage” process whereby he ages the corn, rye, and barley spirits separately before blending them together. He then re-barrels the blend for a period of marrying prior to bottling. However, Confederation Oak is very much a unique whisky in that the marrying process takes place in barrels made from Canadian white oak trees that grew in a forest just forty miles (65 kms) from the Grimsby distillery.

Forty Creek Confederation Oak is the colour of old gold and is a very full bodied whisky. To the nose it is a big whisky with constantly evolving aromas and flavours. Beginning with a maple-raisin-vanilla-fig, layers of praline, banana, butter cream, honeyed nuts, marzipan, spice and orange blossoms. As it lingers, dark dried fruits and anise evolve. On the palate it has a very rich entry; soft, round and dry. Full bodied with vanilla, butter cream and pepper spice which is nicely framed with oak, walnut and smoke. An exceptional finish hat has great depth. A long lingering finish with fading spice and white pepper. Excellent balance and vibrant colour. A whisky to sip and cherish.

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Kavalan Concertmaster Single Malt Whisky

Kavalan Concertmaster Single Malt Whisky is produced at Kavalan Distillery in Yilan in the northeast of Taiwan. This bottling was first matured in selected American oak casks and then finished in port barriques using Portuguese ruby, tawny and vintage Port wine casks as the main flavour. The recipe contains different types of casks – fresh bourbon, fresh sherry and refill casks rendering the spirit a multiplayer of fruity and floral notes. It’s Nose offers an interesting aroma of port mixed with baking spices, sharp green apple and vanilla while it body is smooth and vanilla flavoured will at the same time tasting of apple candy and spices in the middle.  It has a sharpness to its finish leaving a spicy aftertaste.  The bottle needs time to open up making it much fruitier. The tasting bottle was purchased the Terry Fox and Campeau (Centrum) LCBO location for 113.00 CAD.

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Old Forester 2012 Birthday Bourbon – April 8, 2013

Old Forester 2012 Birthday Bourbon (48.5% / 97 proof) is dark gold in color, a lot lighter than some of the other 12 year old whiskies. Cinnamon and oak spice dominate the nose with an undercurrent of vanilla and marzipan. It’s a very nice nose, oaky but not nearly as oak dominant as the 2011 release. The entry is soft and slightly vanilla sweet for a moment and then the oak spice begins to quickly ramp up. Unlike the 2011, the oak doesn’t completely take over; instead, it’s accompanied by the vanilla from the entry along with a nice malt note, caramel, cinnamon, ginger, and maple nut. The combination of the wood spice and the malt note is superb and shows just how much impact even a slight adjustment to the malt in the mashbill can make. The spice comes to a peak at the end of the midpalate and then transitions into a nutty, malty caramel finish supported on a bed of oak. The integration is much better with this year’s release, and the oak, which tempts at overpowering, is nicely tamed and balanced out with some of the other flavors in this bourbon. All Brothers in attendance enjoyed this selection very much. 

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Happy Birthday PWS

Three years ago today, the Pacific Whisky Society came to life, quite appropriately, over a bottle of Robert Burns Single Malt.

Here’s to all our Brothers, Coast to Coast to Coast. Three down, many more to come.

Brother Al.

Here’s tae us
Wha’s like us
Damn few,
And they’re a’ deid
Mair’s the pity!    -Robert Burns


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26 Feb 13 – Blanton’s Gold Edition Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon

This fantastic bourbon was named after the late Colonel Albert Bacon Blanton (1881-1959), who managed the largest distillery of its day (now owned by Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort, Kentucky).  It was during that time that he created a very special and limited supply of bourbon, which he hand-picked and stored in what is now known as the famous Warehouse H which was built after prohibition to allow greater production capacity. Blanton’s Original Single Barrel Bourbon is aged in a new American oak barrel for at least 8 years.  Unlike most others, it is never blended with any other bourbon.   Our members described a nose of rye and dried fruits with subtle notes of chocolate.  The taste was an explosion of sublime buttery sweetness with elements of cognac, apples and honey followed by a big alcohol kick which quickly tapered off to a finish that revealed toffee, almonds and a hint of tobacco  – all within a lovely mouth-coating oiliness.  This bottle was purchased for $99.95 at the Rideau and King Edward LCBO location in Ottawa.

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7 Feb 13 – Redbreast Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey

‘Redbreast’ is a single pot still Irish whiskey – a style of whiskey which is unique to Ireland in general and to the Midleton Distillery, Co. Cork, in particular. Made from a mash of malted and unmalted barley, which is then triple distilled in traditional copper pot stills, Pot Still Irish Whiskeys are characterised by full, complex flavours and a wonderful, creamy mouthfeel. It has a spicey nose with some pepper and additional notes of fruit were mentioned by members. Tasters mentioned a palate of vanilla, fruit, and some toffee and all enjoyed the long, spicy, oily finish.

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